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Cricket Australia’s methods not different from Donald Trump’s leadership style: Ian Chappell

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell offers his take on the ongoing pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the players’ association

cricket Updated: Jul 09, 2017 09:30 IST
Australian cricket has been hit by crisis following a pay dispute between the players’ body and the governing body.
Australian cricket has been hit by crisis following a pay dispute between the players’ body and the governing body.(REUTERS)

It appears the two main objectives of Cricket Australia (CA) in its increasingly acrimonious dispute with the players is to reduce the amount of money being paid to first-class cricketers and to split their association.

If that’s not the objective then why offer more money to the elite players and at the same time try and do away with the revenue sharing clause in the MoU?

Firstly, the issue of the amount of money paid to first-class players. CA says it wants to reduce this to overcome the shortfall in funds available to the grassroots level of the game. Its main concern is to stop the good young athletes choosing other sports, attracted by the greater odds of getting a contract and the higher remuneration available.

READ | Allan Border offers to mediate between Australian cricketers, board on pay dispute

The CA case doesn’t stand close scrutiny.

If other sports are more attractive to good young athletes then why would they reduce the money available to Australia’s first-class cricketers?

Surely the lure of earning a lucrative wage is one way of stemming the flow of good athletes to other sports. Decent sized rookie contracts in particular and worthwhile money for first-class cricketers in general is one way of making the decision for young athletes choosing a career path, more of a level playing field.

Why complain?

Then there’s the matter of who devised the current system. It was the administrators of CA and the state associations.

They introduced the academy system and appointed the numerous coaches who now proliferate in the game. It was the need to provide serious cricket opportunities for young players graduating from the academy and coaches wanting greater access to the first-class players’ time that took the game down the path of becoming fully professional.

Now CA is complaining that first-class players are over-paid.

There may well be cases where first-class players are over-paid --- the same could be said of most businesses, CA included.

READ | Australia A cricketers boycott South Africa tour amid pay dispute

However, it’s that same first-class system that produces players who go on to become elite internationals. It’s the elite internationals who create the wide interest in the game that produces lucrative media rights deals, large crowd attendances and eager sponsors, not to mention inspiring youngsters to either become players or followers of the game.

In essence, it’s the elite players who are responsible for providing administration jobs and in many cases, well paid ones.

The business of Australian cricket should not be a boss and employee arrangement. It has to be a partnership where both sides have a vested interest in growing the game. There has to be a certain amount of trust and respect on both sides for it to work successfully. Neither the trust nor the respect is visible at the moment.

Plenty at stake

Now that the June 30 deadline for a new MoU has passed and the Australia A invitation to tour South Africa has been declined by the players, there are three events that could cause a deal to be agreed.

Firstly, there’s the Channel Nine sponsors’ lunch on Tuesday in Melbourne. Unlike the recent Sydney event, there will be CA officials in the room and it could be rather uncomfortable for the attending administrators if a deal isn’t imminent.

The next period of interest will be the ODI tour to India in October. It’s highly unlikely CA will want to aggravate the BCCI by cancelling that tour, so look for a deal to be in place by then or else the tour is likely to be re-scheduled.

READ | Australia cricketers get FICA backing over pay dispute with Board

Then there’s the Ashes series. This is a highly lucrative tour that creates great interest among the public and usually causes a spike in the playing numbers at junior level.

CA won’t want to forfeit any of those lucrative Ashes opportunities and I also can’t imagine them just handing the series to England on a platter by choosing a sub-standard team. If CA doesn’t have a deal in place before the commencement of the Ashes series, then Donald Trump’s won’t be the only leadership style I find mystifying.

(Ian Chappell, former Australia cricket team Test captain, writes for Hindustan Times exclusively.)