‘More money is fine, but Australia cricket team’s performance still the bottomline’

Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) have finally come to an agreement that will end the long-running pay dispute between the two bodies. The row effectively left the country’s top stars unemployed.

cricket Updated: Aug 06, 2017 09:54 IST
Cricket Australia,Australian Cricketers’ Association,Australia cricket team
Cricket Australia on Thursday agreed in principle to a Heads of Agreement with the Australian Cricketers’ Association that resolves key issues and provides the basis for a full MOU for 2017-22.(AFP)

Now that the acrimonious dispute between the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) and Cricket Australia (CA) is finally over, the feeling is one of relief and the nagging question – “Why did it take so long to resolve?”

As much as you felt deep down that CA would never let the situation deteriorate to the point where an Ashes series was cancelled, there was palpable relief to hear it actually will go ahead. And as much as you knew in your heart that CA would never – knowing the financial punishment inflicted by the BCCI on the West Indies Board when they abandoned a tour -- not fulfil their ODI commitment in India, it was uplifting to know the matches would be played.

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However, knowing that CA was so anti-revenue sharing in the lead up to and during the negotiations, and to then find out that the new MoU will contain a “modernised” form of revenue sharing, it was only natural to wonder why this agreement wasn’t reached long before it alienated the fans?

Revenue-sharing dispute

Revenue sharing is important to the players because it signifies a partnership rather than a boss-employee arrangement. To CA it was a curse because they felt including it would leave them with too little ammunition to fight the ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of young ‘first choice athletes’. Those talented kids who go on to become the elite players critical to keeping Australian cricket teams successful, which in turn helps to build the sport’s popularity.

The end game is to ensure the Australian cricket teams - men and women - are strong. If those teams keep winning then administering the sport becomes a lot simpler.

This has never been more so than in the current atmosphere. If Australia was to lose the Ashes series, then an already angry public will take out their frustration and cricket will experience a recession.

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As it is, cricket will take time to recover its elevated place in the hearts and minds of the Australian public but suffer a loss to England and it will take a damn sight longer to recapture the faith.

David Warner has been the face and mouthpiece for the players’ grievances during the protracted dispute. Warner is a strong individual, but he’s going to need all the will power he can muster if he starts the summer slowly.

The kids love Warner but if he fails against England they’ll hear – loud and clear – from their fathers about this “greedy, loud-mouthed so and so” and they’ll begin to wonder if they were right to idolise the ebullient opener. In those cases it’ll confirm; “There are no delinquent children, only delinquent adults.”

Seeking role models

While questions abound for CA - why did an agreement take so long; why try and fracture the ACA; why did the CEO only get involved late? The question for the players is simple; “Will you leave the game stronger than it was when you began your career?”

Most young cricketers take up the game because they adopt a hero. They watch cricket firstly because it’s a popular sport and then one player in particular catches their eye. They begin to wonder if they could emulate his or her feats and they head out to the park to begin a journey of discovery.

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As long as there are cricket heroes for kids to follow, the game will remain strong. However, there’s a new ingredient to this recipe; it now requires more money to ensure the kids have the facilities and assistance to follow their heroes onto the playing fields.

It is said the best deals always leave a dollar on the table for the next guy. If the latest MoU means there’s enough left in the kitty to ensure today’s kids are able to emulate their heroes, then this will be a good deal and cricket in Australia will prosper.

First Published: Aug 06, 2017 09:54 IST