There is a growing rift developing
between Cricket Australia and its top players and their union – the
Australian Cricketers’ Association – over the hardline stance taken by
CA in its current contract and pay negotiations with the ACA.

has reached the point of undermining confidence in the game’s
administrators. Or more particularly the CA board made up of state
association representatives who want to clip the wings of the players
by refusing to offer them basically the same financial partnership
under a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets out the
employment conditions and basis for remuneration for all first class
Australian players.

With the announcement yesterday by ACA
chief executive Tim May of a stalemate in the negotiations, it’s as if
CA seems oblivious to the damage being inflicted on its partnership
with the all-conquering Australian Test and one-day international
players who are feeling betrayed by recent events.

instructive that over the summer, CA has been releasing various reports
and surveys that cast doubt on cricket’s enduring appeal and other
factors that could inhibit cricket’s popularity, development and
financial well being. This included one “leaked” confidential CA
estimate that had it budgeting for something like an $18 million
shortfall in its current domestic season. Given the cyclical nature of
cricket scheduling over several seasons, this was a mischievous and
misleading alarm bell.

The nub of the problem is that when the
new MOU is agreed between CA and the ACA, which under the current
agreement expires in June, CA either wants to dilute the current 25% of
its income split to the players, or in the case of contracted
Australian players, effectively tie them to fixed sums to their obvious
disadvantage. Either way this is all about the politics of state
associations wanting a bigger slice of the pie and less to the players,
while Tim May is resolute that his association is not going to give up
its hard-won partnership under which its 25% income sharing will
continue to see players rewarded for any growth in the game’s revenue

In an interview last week, Tim May assured me his
association would not allow the players stakeholding in the game to be
bargained away by the intransigence of the board. “We have taken a very
firm position and will continue to do so where we merely seek to
continue to maintain our revenue portion, and we also know that the
revenue coming into the game in the next few years will be increasing
significantly and the states association get to share in 75% of those
incremental increases,” he told me. “That’s a great result for Cricket
Australia and the state associations.”

Cricket fans should be in
no doubt the Australian players are now feeling seriously disheartened
by what they see as a lack of gratitude by their employer. “We’re
essentially no longer partners in the game… it’s just a smack in the
face. If I was running a business I wouldn’t be treating my employees
like that,” May observed of the CA position.