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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Steve Smith emerges as key player in talks over Australian cricket pay dispute

Australian cricket team captain Steve Smith is reportedly playing a key role behind the doors to get the warring parties, Cricket Australia (CA) and Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), on a platform to find a solution to the ongoing pay dispute

cricket Updated: Jul 29, 2017 16:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Steve Smith has reportedly had a series of meetings with both Cricket Australia (CA) and Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA).
Steve Smith has reportedly had a series of meetings with both Cricket Australia (CA) and Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA).(REUTERS)

Australia captain Steve Smith is believed to be playing a key role between the warring parties in Cricket Australia (CA) and Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), as they struggle to find a solution to the pay dispute issue which left as many as 230 male and female cricketers ‘jobless’ at the end of June.

The 28-year-old Smith has reportedly had several telephonic conversations as well as meetings with the ACA and CA over the past few days.

Notably, Smith, who was on a long vacation with girlfriend Dani Willis in the US where he proposed her as well, was criticised for not speaking publicly over the matter.

READ | David Warner hits back at Cricket Australia in bitter pay row

According to the Daily Telegraph, Smith is a ‘players man and has repeatedly expressed his backing of the ACA and its core belief in the revenue share model, as well as endorsing its “peace plan”.’

The report claimed that Smith has been in touch with ACA chief Alistair Nicholson for past few months, he has been talking over phone recently with him as well as with Pat Howard — the General Manager Team Performance.

A tricky position

In 1997, Mark Taylor brokered a deal just a few days before ‘strike action’, and went on to describe that period as ‘one of the most trying of his career’. Smith finds himself in a similar situation.

The talks between Nicholson and CA chief James Sutherland continued on Saturday in Melbourne, with the Bangladesh tour for two Tests impending.

On his part, Sutherland praised Smith for his role and the challenges he has faced. “Steve would find himself in a difficult position. Someone like Mark Taylor, who was really in the middle of those negotiations when that first MOU was struck in 1997 — at times he reflects on how difficult and challenging a period that was,” Sutherland was quoted as saying to The Sunday Telegraph.

READ | Cricket Australia ready for arbitration in pay row

“I have nothing but the highest respect for Steve Smith and his values and ideals. He loves the game and I know he as much as anyone in Australian cricket wants to see the Australian cricket team back playing and him leading them back onto the ground in Dhaka (in August),” he added.

“Steve has been an outstanding leader throughout this entire negotiation as you would expect,” Nicholson said on his part.

In regards to understanding the scenario completely, Smith has also asked for ‘numbers and rationales’ from both CA and ACA.

READ | Australian cricketers’ pay dispute continues, no agreement on new deal

Clarity from Cricket Australia

After Sutherland revealed the possibility of the involvement of an arbitrator, the ACA had sent an email to the players saying a solution could arrive only after the start of the Ashes 2017-18.

CA responded saying that players would be ‘contracted throughout any arbitration process and therefore the Ashes wouldn’t be impeded in that scenario’.

First Published: Jul 29, 2017 16:41 IST