Explaining the Aussie cricket pay disputeSave
Cricket Australia and the country's players' association appear on course for strike action, putting the Ashes series in jeopardy.
How has the situation reached the stage where the game's most celebrated biennial series is under threat?
David Leggat answers the key questions:
1: What is at the heart of the dispute?
Cricket Australia want to move away from the revenue sharing model under which the players receive 20 percent of the CA money. The Australian Cricketers' Association, which now includes women players, want to retain it. In March, CA made an offer, proposing the average pay of Australia's international women's players would rise from $A79,000 to $A179,000, while the average remuneration of state cricketers would more than double to $A52,000.
CA proposed Australia's international men's payments would rise by 25 percent by the 2021-22 season. Domestic player payments would jump by 18 percent in the same period. The offers were rejected, the ACA tabled a counter offer, which was also turned down.
2: How did the dispute get public?
A letter by CA chief executive James Sutherland was leaked to the media last week. In it, he warned the ACA players might not be paid after June 30 unless they agreed to a new pay structure. Sutherland said CA "is not contemplating alternative contracting arrangements to play players beyond June 30 if their contracts have expired." Sutherland described the CA rejigged proposal as "relatively minor but necessary changes" to the existing pay model.
3: Is there a hidden subtext to this?
The sport's revenue over the last four years has tripled. CA listed its operating income for 2016 at $A333 million - of which the players received about $A66 million - fuelled by the hugely successful Big Bash League. It's swimming in cash. There's an argument that if the players receive 20 percent, that's more than is warranted, in that salaries of the leading players are going to get seriously out of proportion.
CA board member, and former Australian captain, Mark Taylor believes the Players Association aren't negotiating in good faith. He suggested the association's strategy was well in place before they knew what CA was even going to offer.
"I had players say to me in January of this year that we could well be on strike by July. This is well before this MOU (memorandum of understanding) was even presented."
4: So what are the players saying
David Warner, raking it in in the Indian Premier League, has placed the ball squarely in the CA court.
"If we don't have contracts, we are going to have to find some cricket to play somewhere else...otherwise we don't get paid," Warner said. "A few of the boys might go over to play the Caribbean Premier League and there could be some of the England (domestic) T20s on as well. We won't buckle at all, we are standing together and very strong."
And then the definitive jab to follow up: "If it gets to the extreme they might not have a team for the Ashes."
5: Where does broadcasting sit in all this?
CA has yet to sign off on a new broadcast deal for next year and beyond. The new contracts could provide a windfall for the game. The players understandably want their slice of that pie.
6: So there's no impasse in sight?
Right now there's lots of huff and puff but no mediation, which the ACA want and which CA haven't responded to. Australia have a proposed tour to Bangladesh before the Ashes. That clearly is in jeopardy. But it's the Ashes which is the elephant in the corner of this room.
ACA chief executive Alastair Nicholson is not thumping the table calling for a strike, yet.
"The players are behind us and our position. If we get to June 30 and we haven't got to where we need to be, then we will work through that as a playing group," he said.
7: So what's the tip for the Ashes?
Warner will be walking out for the first ball on November 23 at Brisbane. There will be a resolution, of some sort. Short term contracts might be one possible outcome, but that's a band aid, not a solution. The Ashes is too big, to both countries, to fall over, but there's still time for more frothy exchanges.