Sutherland opens up on CA-ACA deadlock

Australian players in the recent past have publicly opposed the proposed changes, with Australian vice-captain David Warner going to the extent of claiming that the players were ready to forego a home Ashes series to retain the longstanding fixed revenue-percentage model.

Sutherland said that the Australia cricketers’ association was working without sufficient information.   -  Getty Images

The pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and Australia Cricketers’ Association (ACA) has soured relations between the players and the country’s cricket administration. Now, as Steven Smith and his men gear up for the Champions Trophy in England, Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland has opened up on the impasse during an interview with Guardian Australia.

"In some quarters we're being perceived as being hard or unfair on the players in this situation," Guardian Australia quoted Sutherland as saying. It is noteworthy that CA, in an explosive email, had apparently threatened that the cricketers won’t be paid beyond June 30 should they fail to abide by CA’s proposed overhaul of the player remuneration model.

But Sutherland clarified, "It's important to note that we have a player payment pool in this current year of $79m, and our proposal for next year is for a player payment pool of $91m. That’s a 15% increase. There aren’t many people in Australia getting an increase like that, or have an offer like that on the table."

Australian players in the recent past have publicly opposed the proposed changes, with Australian vice-captain David Warner going to the extent of claiming that the players were ready to forego a home Ashes series to retain the longstanding fixed revenue-percentage model.

Warner told The Age, "We won't buckle at all, we are standing together and very strong, and as you can see from all the people that have spoken so far, we are all on the same wavelength. We want a fair share and the revenue-sharing model is what we want, so we are going to stick together until we get that."

However with the pay talks moving forward, the reasoning behind this move by the governing body appears to have been lost in the cacophony of voices, and Sutherland reckons CA was coerced into addressing "certain things put into the public domain that needed to be discredited or at least corrected."

Explaining the rationale behind the new model, Sutherland said, "We understand that 71% of what we spend our money on basically relates to elite and high performance cricket." "Another 17% relates to what we call running the game. Just 12% goes to grassroots cricket. We need to find ways to increase that. It’s not enough. We've identified that through a lot of reviews we’ve done leading into this new strategic planning cycle."

Sutherland said that the playerss association was working without sufficient information, adding that, "While the ACA has addressed (grassroots cricket funding) to some extent, they don’t know anywhere near the detail we do in terms of what is involved in managing these issues both at an operational level and at a strategic and policy level."

He further justified the CA plan by proclaiming, "I doubt we would have spent a couple hundred thousand dollars, or more probably, doing our facilities audit if we weren’t genuinely serious about trying to understand where the deficiencies are and what we need to do about them."

"Change is difficult. People are used to the model and feel like they’re losing ground. Status is not a bad word for it actually. I understand that there’s an element of this that’s about preserving the status and tradition of Sheffield Shield, for example, in the whole makeup of Australian cricket," he said.

Australia will face New Zealand in its tournament-opener on June 2 at Edgbaston and it is in the best interest of everyone, to ensure that this off-field spat doesn’t thwart the team’s performance on the field. That said, with no deadline extension in sight, the storm continues to rage around the CA-ACA wrangle.

  Dugout videos