CA backs down from contract offer threat

It is learnt that some of the state players have been asked to train with their respective states until more is known about how many places and how much money will be available to each state. Rookie contracted players, the entry level for many domestic cricketers, are in a similar uncertain position.

Australian cricket remains on a sticky wicket, with the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association still in play.   -  Getty Images

In what could be seen as a more moderate approach from Cricket Australia (CA) to resolve the ongoing pay dispute with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (CA), the country’s cricket board and the states have backed down from a threat to send out contracts under the terms of the new pay proposal already rejected by the players.

Cricket Australia and the ACA are beginning the difficult task of reaching an agreement ahead of the June 30 expiry of the current pay MoU. As per ESPNcricinfo, letters of intent have been sent to Australia’s domestic players, indicating whether their state plans to contract them for 2017-18 and for how many seasons beyond.

The letters of intent, however, don’t include any financial details or the contracts which usually arrive at the same time. This move is a marked departure from the James Sutherland’s (CA chief executive) May 12 letter to the ACA, in which he said the contracts would be “consistent with CA’s proposal, and they will be conditional on a new MoU being in place.”

It is learnt that some of the state players have been asked to train with their respective states until more is known about how many places and how much money will be available to each state. Rookie contracted players, the entry level for many domestic cricketers, are in a similar uncertain position.

The cricket board has already publicized the list of players who will be offered central contracts for the 2017-18 season with Pat Howard, Cricket Australia’s newly re-signed executive general manager of team performance, individually approaching Test skipper Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner, fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins with verbal offers of three-year deals rather than standard one-year central contracts on the condition that they skip the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The terms of the three-year-deals, discussed informally with Howard, were regarded by the players as underwhelming, with the only perceived incentive for them being the security of a three-year contract.

Sutherland had last month insisted that the players will receive around 15 percent hike in pay under the governing body’s new model, while emphasising that there are not many people in the country getting something like that.

However, the ACA had earlier rejected the new pay offer, saying the proposal will be a win for cricket administrators but a loss for the game.

In March, CA made an offer, proposing that the average pay of Australia’s international women players would rise from $A79,000 to $A179,000, while the average remuneration of state cricketers would more than double to $A52,000.

Under CA’s proposal, only male international players would have a share in any surplus revenue, while other domestic male players and women at both domestic and international level would have to settle for fixed amounts which would not fluctuate according to the game’s income.

However, the ACA pointed out a series of concerns with the proposal, saying that it “disrespects the value of domestic cricketers and the role they play in Australian cricket.”

Cricket Australia’s move to scrap a shared revenue model for player payments, which has been in place for nearly 20 years, has been the major bone of contention in this deadlock. CA had in May threatened that players would not be paid beyond June 30.

Hitting back at the threat, Warner had said the players will unanimously reject the new proposal and that they would not “buckle at all” in their pay row with the national board.

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