As of now, approximately 230 of Australias top cricketers (both men and women) are unemployed

A disaster has struck Australian cricket.

For the first time in their history, Australian cricketers are on a strike and are at loggerheads with their board. About 230 Australian cricketers are unemployed at the moment and in all likelihood, their A team’s series in South Africa, Australia men’s team’s tour of Bangladesh and Ashes later this year could be cancelled if both the players and board don’t bury the hatchet at the earliest.

Here is all you need to know about the stand-off between the players and the board.

Also read: Aaron Finch takes a jibe at Cricket Australia

What is the reason behind the dispute between the board and the players?

The whole saga revolves around the salaries of Australian cricketers. The players are refusing to accept what the board is willing to offer while the board has rejected the players’ proposal as well.

What do the players want?

In 1998, Tim May proposed a revenue sharing model, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), based on which the Australian players were paid for the last 19 years. According to the first revenue sharing model, a fixed percentage of revenue generated by CA (currently 26%) was distributed to the international and domestic players, instead of having a fixed annual salary cap.

The players’ annual salary is directly proportional to the success of Australian cricket in that particular year. In simple words, If Cricket Australia (CA) make more money in a particular year, the players will be paid more and if CA makes less money, the players will be paid less.

What does the CA want?

The CA wants to break up the current revenue sharing model because they believe the model does not provide the board with any adequate opportunity to grow the game. The CA also wants to invest more in cricket at a grassroots level.

Therefore, the board proposed a new revenue model which states that the top players will get fixed annual salaries so that more money can be spent on the grassroots level.

How much will the players get as per the newly proposed model? 

Initially, the CA suggested that only the top 20 players should be allowed a percentage of surplus CA revenue while the rest would settle for fixed salaries. Also, CA didn’t want the domestic players to be included in any revenue sharing agreement because they don’t contribute to financial earnings like the international players.

On December 12, CA sent its first proposal to the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) and players, detailing the plans to break up the revenue sharing model and “offer fixed wages to domestic male and female players, while only offering surplus profits (A$20 million to international men cricketers)”.

The ACA rejected the newly-proposed revenue model stating that it disrespects the value and role of domestic cricketers in Australian cricket and denies the women an opportunity to have a share in the game’s revenue.

This is what the CA proposed to the players in the month of March.

– A $20 million pool of ‘surplus’ revenue to be shared by the top 20 players out of which $16 million will be for men and the remaining for women.

– The players will be getting a projected total of $419 million between 2017-2022 instead of the $311 million that they are allotted now.  

– Average international men’s annual central contract to rise to $816,000 by 2021-22.

– A domestic cricketer’s (men) payment will increase to $235,000 by 2021-22 from $199,000 in 2016-17.

– An average woman’s pay increases by approximately 150% from $79,000 per year to $179,000 per year.

– A domestic women’s cricketer’s annual pay increases by nearly 150% from $22,000 to $52,000 for domestic players.

– Both men and women will get identical match fees and hourly pay in state cricket.

While skipper Steve Smith has remained quiet, his deputy, David Warner has been vocal throughout the pay dispute
CA’s proposed model (Image Courtesy: Cricket Australia on Twitter)

Once again, the ACA rejected it. In June, CA also made some last-minute efforts to put an end to the standoff between the board and the players by modifying its proposal by “including all male and female state cricketers (not just the top 20 players) in the new model and also offered pay rises to male domestic players”.

Once again, the efforts of CA went in vein.

In spite of getting more money, why have the players declined the new revenue model?

The players want to keep the model that has been in place for almost 20 years. Also, the CA is expected to strike a new broadcast deal next year and there are possibilities that there could be a huge upswing coming their way, thanks to the success and popularity of the Big Bash League (BBL).

The players also want a slice of the pie from the broadcast deal, but, CA’s proposal is in such a way that it favours cutting the players out of the profits they work to generate.

In May, CA released a video featuring their lead negotiator Kevin Roberts explaining CA’s pay offer to players, with another released the following week (during the Champions Trophy), something that was heavily criticised by Australian vice-captain David Warner, who has been representing the players on most occasion.

Along with the video, a graphics stating that the Big Bash League lost A$33 million for CA over its first five years was attached. Former Australian cricketer and one of ACA representatives, Simon Katich attacked the claim stating that CA is trying to divert the players from looking for profit from the new broadcast deal.

The players are refusing to accept CA’s demands because they’re looking out for lower-profile players, who are on the domestic scene, in and out of state sides, who probably won’t ever rise to national prominence.

The players feel that CA’s new proposal hurts the players at the bottom and they’re sticking together because they believe the old revenue sharing model looks after everyone, whereas CA’s new plan cares only about the players who are at the top.

Did the cricketers propose any plan to the CA? 

The ACA presented a revenue sharing model and the CA was not ready to accept it. According to the model proposed by the players and ACA, out of the 55% of revenue going to CA, 22.5% will be going to grassroots cricket and the remaining 22.5% going to male and female players.

What’s next for Australian cricket?

Australian cricketers’ previous five-year contract came to an end on June 30 and the women’s contract will come to an end after the completion of the ongoing World Cup. CA declared June 30as the deadline for the cricketers to accept the new revenue model and sign the MoU.

But, the cricketers were firm, as they were throughout the saga, and refused to accept CA’s new model.

CA high-performance manager Pat Howard sent a letter to all states and the ACA stating that if no MOU was agreed upon, players whose contracts expired on June 30 would be unemployed. He wrote, “If your contract expires on 30 June, you will not be an employee of CA, a State Association or a W/BBL Team from 1 July.

“This means that you are not required to play, train, perform player appearances or media commitments, and you will not be paid a retainer until such time as an MOU is agreed and a player contract is agreed with you in writing.”