With an Ashes test series approaching down under later in the year we might be heading for an unprecedented situation where the Australian cricket stars we all know and hate (only if you’re English of course) won’t be putting on their cricket whites, applying sun cream and preparing their cricket bats for battle. Instead a pay dispute with cricket Australia has left the cricket board facing a crisis that without a resolution will effectively mean the Australian test sides (for both men and women) will be free agents from 1 July 2017.
Opening batsman David Warner has a no-nonsense approach to the game and has become the vocal spokesman for the players’ side of the argument in the pay dispute with Cricket Australia. He has stated that “If it gets to the extreme they might not have a team for the Ashes, We won’t buckle at all; we are standing together and very strong.”
The statement from Warner comes in the wake of Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland reportedly threatening that after June 30 2017 no players will be paid. In an email that was sent to Alistair Nicholson, the chief of the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), Sutherland stated that unless the players union accepted the proposition of an overhaul to player contracts there would be no payments after this date, effectively leaving the upcoming tests against Bangladesh, and more importantly the Ashes series against England, in serious doubt.
The email was forwarded on to players around Australia and includes both male and female test teams. Although Sutherland has not been himself involved in the talks over the pay dispute his intervention could be seen as throwing fuel onto an already open fire, with players angry over proposals that include a new pay structure and a scrapping of the existing model that sees all cricketers in Australia share in the profits made by Cricket Australia.
Sutherland’s email said: “CA is not contemplating alternative contracting arrangements to pay players beyond 30 June if their contracts have expired. In the absence of the ACA negotiating a new MOU, players with contracts expiring in 2016-17 will not have contracts for 2017-18.
“Players with existing multi-year state or Big Bash contracts would be required to play in 2017-18 even if a new pay deal is not struck.”
The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) has no offered to mediate with Cricket Australia (CA) on behalf of the players as the dispute seems to have hit an impasse, with neither side willing to budge in negotiations. The alleged threat from Sutherland is unlikely to go down well with the Australian test cricketers who fairly see themselves as a major reason behind the profits that they are being asked to leave a share of in a new deal.
It’s hard to envisage an Ashes series without the current crop of Australian cricketers, or even having to cancel the tour altogether because of a pay dispute, but it is a sobering tale and a familiar battle between the sportsmen and those in administrative power.