SYDNEY: A defiant Australian captain Steve Smith said on Sunday players would not back down in their bitter pay dispute with Cricket Australia (CA).
Days after the players boycotted an Australia ‘A’ tour to South Africa, Smith said the nation’s cricketers were resolute in wanting to keep the longstanding revenue-sharing pay deal, linked to the game’s overall financial fortunes.
“I’ll say what we as players have been saying for some time now: we are not giving up the revenue-sharing model for all players,” Smith said in an Instagram post. “But, through the ACA [Australian Cricketers’ Association] we are willing to make important changes to modernise the existing model for the good of the game.
“We are and have always been willing to make those changes.
“Changes for how the model can be adapted for the even greater benefit of grassroots cricket, which is after all where we all started.”
After months of negotiations, the players and CA failed to reach agreement on a new pay deal, leaving 230 cricketers unemployed since the end of June when their contracts expired.
In an escalation of the protracted pay dispute, the players, through their union the ACA, last Thursday decided to boycott the Australia ‘A’ tour of South Africa, which was due to start on July 12.
There are fears now that the pay row could scupper next month’s Test tour to Bangladesh, the one-day international series in India in September and even the Ashes against England.
The Ashes are due to begin with the first of five Tests in Brisbane in late November.
Smith said players were resisting CA attempts to adopt changes to the revenue-sharing model which was introduced 20 years ago.
“We are determined to keep revenue sharing for all because we must take care of domestic players in Australia,” Smith said. “As leaders that is what David [Warner], Meg [Lanning], Alex [Blackwell] and I have been fighting for: a fair share for state players who are also partners in cricket.
“I know from my career that when I was dropped in 2011 if I didn’t have a strong domestic competition to go back to, I certainly wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in today.
“State players need to be taken care of financially so the domestic competition will always be strong which in turn keeps us strong at the international level.”
Smith said Australia’s female cricketers also had to be covered in the same deal as their male counterparts.
“As women’s cricket gets bigger and bigger in Australia women players must also be able to share in what they will be earning,” he said. “They must have the same chances and incentives to grow the game as the men have had since revenue sharing started.
“And I know I speak for all of the men that we want women cricketers in the one deal with the men as well. It’s time to get a deal done. It should be and can be an exciting time for the game.”
The CA website said talks were expected to resume between the two parties on Monday.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2017