Everybody who plays the game can’t be an Ian Chappell, Shane Warne or Ricky Ponting. A majority of them will lead a low-key life, seeking security and support from their sport.
In this country, the support of the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) is godsend, a body the players can trust to safeguard their interests. Similarly, for every Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, there are thousands of players in India who have no voice. Thus, the Justice RM Lodha committee recommendation to form a players’ association can become a game-changer.
With cricketers being the most important stakeholders in the game, looking after their welfare is vital. The Lodha panel though has said the India body won’t be a union, but lend its expertise for the game’s improvement.
The Australian model though has worked well for the players. Having made a modest beginning in 1997, the Melbourne-based body now has 20 full-time staff.
“We have 100 per cent support of the playing group, with about 1,300 members. It’s a fundamental part of Australian cricket; it means the game has been able to grow,” ACA chief executive, Alistair Nicholson, told HT.
“When the ACA started, there were no contracts for domestic players, and remuneration was low. There was no assistance to what players would do post retirement. The terms were dictated mainly by the Board. Now, a number of things have been formalised regarding contracts, and that has resulted in stability in Australian cricket.”
The ACA has 300 current players --- internationals, women and all first-class players --- and around 1,000 past players as members. It’s run by a board comprising four current players and three professionals. Australia T20 captain Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Moises Henriques and Lisa Sthalekar are on the board.
While it negotiates with CA on behalf of players, its crucial responsibility is to ensure sensible scheduling to avoid player burnout. Asked about the challenges for the new body in India, Nicholson said: “You need to set up a governance structure, engage membership, be the platform to address key player issues and act as the industrial agent, like what happens in New Zealand, England.”
The ACA, like other national player bodies, is affiliated to the international players’ association (FICA). “FICA can be a valuable stake-holder in world cricket and having Indian participation will be worthwhile. But first and foremost, it’s about establishing it (Indian body) in its own right.”
The West Indies body is constantly at loggerheads with the Board. “The issue is not about the players association, but WI cricket in general. The challenge they have in domestic set up and the fragmentation that has happened.”