Cricket Australia are currently involved in an ugly pay dispute with their players which threatens to derail the upcoming home Ashes series against the old enemy England.
At the heart of the argument is the current pay system which ensures the players gain a percentage of Cricket Australia’s revenue. That share, around 26 percent of revenue each year, is divided up between International, State and Big Bash players.
Cricket Australia are happy enough to pay the top tier stars, and even spread some of the love to the best female cricketers, but they don’t think Sheffield Shield players are earning their keep. Of course they have a point, no one watches Shield cricket anymore, certainly no one wants to pay to televise it. It just doesn’t have the pop appeal of the Big Bash. I mean who has time to watch four days of domestic cricket?
Why should anyone outside the top 20 international level players (and the Marsh brothers) expect to make a living out of the game? Shield players should be willing to put in all the hard yards, training and developing their skills, at the end of a decent day’s work elsewhere. They shouldn’t be putting all their career hopes into the one cricket basket anyway. Go get a real job, learn a trade, attend university, and maybe even study law so that if you do fail miserably as a player, you might still someday be on the Cricket Australia board.
Everyone knows that Cricket Australia hold the upper hand here. David Warner’s threat to sit out the Ashes isn’t scaring anyone. There are literally hundreds of thousands of cricketers across the country who would give their left pad for the opportunity to pull on the Baggy Green. It’s not as though the current Test team have been all that successful of late, they’re certainly not irreplaceable.
Cricket Australia need to draw a line in the sand as soon as next week. They need to notify all currently contracted players that they are being made redundant and advertise for a new Test team. Skip straight past the current Shield players, they’re too busy looking for jobs at the moment anyway, and throw it open to the general public.
We’ve all known park cricketers who were more than capable of taking on the Poms. Those tough, freakishly talented blokes who couldn’t be bothered working their way through the politics of grade cricket, started a career elsewhere and only slapped on the whites each weekend to get away from the wife and to have a swear and a spit on the ground with their mates. They are out there and they are more than ready to take up the Ashes challenge, as long as the wife doesn’t have family coming over on Boxing Day.
Why not make a reality show out of the whole process? That would be another revenue stream Cricket Australia won’t have to share with the selfish, greedy players. I’ll even throw out a name or two for the show: “Australia’s Got Cricket Talent!” “Cricket Australia Wants a Team” or “The Block” (opening batsmen the world over will appreciate that one).
Once the exhaustive, ratings winning process is completed and the team is assembled, Board member Mark “Tubby” Taylor can do what Bob Simpson did during the darkest days of World Series Cricket – come out of retirement to captain the side.
I’d even throw my hat into the ring, if only to dream of the opportunity of staring Joe Root in the face and giving him an absolute gobful.