The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) called on Cricket Australia (CA) on Sunday (May 14) to mediate over intractable wage negotiations instead of threatening not to pay the players.
On Saturday, James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, threatened not to pay contracted players beyond June 30 unless the proposed remuneration overhaul was accepted. Sutherland demanded in a blunt email that the players accept the offer, as the impasse with the players’ union looked no closer to resolution.
The latest flare-up casts doubt on what team Australia could field after June 30, with a two-Test series scheduled in August in Bangladesh ahead of the home Ashes showdown against England later in the year.
Alistair Nicholson, the ACA’s chief executive, criticised CA’s “incoherence and aggression” in the negotiations. “Clearly, we are disappointed that CA are threatening the players,” said Nicholson in a statement. “It’s also a window into the nature of CA’s behaviour in these negotiations so far. There is incoherence and aggression in what we have experienced at the negotiating table from CA.”
Nicholson said this was shown by CA’s attempts last week to offer some top players multi-year deals only to threaten them the following day.
Mark Taylor supports CA:
“I’m not surprised that James has done what he’s done. Things have not been going anywhere for months now, and I know that Cricket Australia – and I’m a board director, so I’m biased that way – feel the ACA aren’t negotiating at all. Cricket Australia want to change the MOU, they want to get away from what they call the revenue sharing model, although the one being offered to the players is still revenue sharing to a certain extent. No-one is worse off, women are going to be very well paid under the new model. But right from the word go, the ACA – I’m not so sure the players – the ACA have not wanted to engage at all on this deal that’s being offered. It’s all about (maintaining the) status quo or the highway, and I don’t think you can negotiate that way.”
“However, despite these threats, the players affirm their offer to participate in independent mediation,” he went on. “Quite simply, one side entered these negotiations in good faith with an intent to provide a win-win result, and the other is trying to remove player unity and drive a wedge in Australian cricket.
“The point lost on CA is that the players will not respond to threats, whilst broadcasters and sponsors need certainty.”
Nicholson said it was time for CA to sit down in mediation for the good of the game, instead of making unnecessary threats and creating uncertainty. He added that his organisation had been in touch with cricketers on Friday to brief them on the latest situation.
Peter Handscomb, on county duty in England, said all players should be treated equally.
He raised fears that long-form players could be lost to Twenty20 cricket if the current financial model was not retained. “It’s about being a partner in the game. It’s huge for the players. We all feel we have a genuine role in growing cricket,” Handscomb told the Sunday Age newspaper.
“We’re putting ourselves out there in public, playing and promoting the game all the time. The revenue-share model helps us feel that we’re really part of the successes or failures.”
Players also took to Twitter to show their solidarity with the ACA.
— Pat Cummins (@patcummins30) May 13, 2017
— Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) May 13, 2017
— Mitch Starc (@mstarc56) May 13, 2017
— Shane Watson (@ShaneRWatson33) May 13, 2017