Share:
 
JULY 2017
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 33 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 11077-11211)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below
 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,185

Saturday, 1 July 2017


• Australian players wake up unemployed, grassroots facilities to benefit [2185-11077].

• Learning to live without a national cricket team [2185-11078].

• Live T20 for the BBC post 2019, but ‘Sky’ retains Test, ODI rights [2185-11079].

Australian players wake up unemployed, grassroots facilities to benefit.

Jon Pierik and Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 30 June 2017.

PTG 2185-11077.

Most of Australia's 230 top cricketers will wake up unemployed on Saturday, amid an extraordinary declaration from Cricket Australia (CA) that just over $A1 million (£UK592,640) it saves in player wages per fortnight would be redirected to grassroots cricket.  CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association remain at loggerheads - but still feuding publicly - over a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) nine months into battle, the deadline for a new deal expiring at midnight (PTG 2184-11073, 30 June 2017).

The key issue remains CA's determination to no longer have players share in the game's gross revenue. They have done so since the initial MoU in 1997 but CA says the sport, particularly at a grass-roots level, can no longer prosper from this model, and is willing to only allow a percentage share of surplus funds.

CA says it will allocate, on a fortnightly basis, all of the money it would otherwise be paying to out of contract players, a total of around $A1.2 million (£UK711,170), to its National Community Facilities Funding Scheme (NCFFS). That is an existing fund CA established in 2014 in conjunction with State and Territory Cricket Associations, that supports the establishment of new and refurbished playing and training facilities at grassroots level across Australia. CA says it has "utilised the NCFFS to partner with local councils, state and territory governments, and local cricket clubs to make a significant impact in the quality and provision of community cricket facilities".

In the three years of its operation to date, CA says $A4.5 million (£UK2.7 m), an average of $A1.5 m (£UK888,960) a year, has been invested in a total of 410 projects worth $A41.6 m (£UK24.7 m), or an average per project of $A11,000 (£UK6,520), which have "significantly enhanced cricket infrastructure across Australia and supported increased participation in cricket”.  That presumably means that in the main governments of various levels contributed $A37.1 m (£UK22 m) or 89 per cent of the total of those overall project costs.

CA gives just three examples of successful projects.  The first is a $A30,000 (£UK17,780) investment to deliver a $A370,000 (£UK219,275) five-lane indoor training facility at Caloundra Cricket Club, Queensland.  That project was recently awarded 'Community Project of the Year' at CA’s 'A Sport for All Awards’.  Another example provided is $A40,000 (£UK23,705) to help deliver a $285,000 (£UK168,900) oval upgrade project at Foster Reserve in Craigieburn, Victoria, to provide a high-quality playing facility and turf wicket block for male and female club participants.  Third is $A22,000 (£UK13,040) towards a $90,000 (£UK53,335) multipurpose training facility with retractable netting at the Bull Paddock Sporting Complex at Tumut, New South Wales.

Thus CA’s information indicates a total of $A92,000 (£UK54,520) was provided by it to support those three projects, an average of $A31,000 (£UK18,370) across each, or 12 per cent of their overall cost of $A745,000 (£UK441,515).  CA did not provide on Friday, or it seems elsewhere before that, any information as to what projects the remaining $A3,755,000 (£UK22.3 m) of CA’s stated NCFFS $4.5 m (£UK2.7 m) expenditure has contributed to.  

In late May, CA chief executive James Sutherland said grassroots cricket in Australia needs up to $A30 million (£UK17.8 m) immediately and much more in the long run if the game is not to wither in Australia.  That’s in part because CA’s first national audit of Australian cricket infrastructure, which assessed some 6,000 cricket facilities around the country, had shown cricket was lagging in facilities and player numbers, especially those of girls (PTG 2146-10893, 26 May 2017).  Sutherland said a month ago that details of the audit, which he called "the most ambitious audit of sporting facilities in Australian history”, will be shared "with the public and governments of all levels soon” (PTG 2149-10904, 28 May 2017).  That is yet to occur.

Earlier this week CA announced it is seeking "government support” to help it "realise its vision of an $A18 million (£UK10.7 m) National Cricket Campus in Brisbane”.  The CA Board and its Queensland Cricket counterpart recently committed $A4.25 million (£UK25.2 m) to that project (PTG 2178-11038, 26 June 2017), or close to the amount it says it allocated to the NCFFS over the last three years.

Learning to live without a national cricket team.

Malcolm Knox.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 1 July 2017.

PTG 2185-11078.

Good morning, Australia. How does it feel to not have a national cricket team? Are you diminished? Is there an emptiness in your ribcage where your heart used to be? Is your inner Baggy Green all cold and shrivelled?  Didn't think so. But, barring a dramatic last-minute peace deal  Australia's top cricketers and administrators will have hit the accelerator and, like Thelma and Louise, driven off  'the cliff'.

But this is not the final scene. In fact July 1 is only the beginning of the real year that matters on the cricket calendar – the financial year — and the situation will not get serious until we enter the second quarter. Most of us are sanguine, expecting something to be sorted out. There is as much a chance of England contesting the Ashes against a team led by the cream of Cricket Australia's (CA) current office employees as there is of, say, Cardinal George Pell facing criminal charges before a judge and a jury. It's impossible, right?

A compromised Ashes series remains at the outer end of probability, but with the 30 June deadline for a deal between CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association passing, the stalemate would enter a new realm. Much more stale, much less mate.  The players are solid, which is helped by the fact that nobody is going to be in the dole queue on Monday. No state or Test cricketers are going to need, as the likes of Dennis Lillee did in the early 1970s and all cricketers did for half of the twentieth century, their schoolteacher wives to become the principal breadwinners. But with July upon us, the clock is now ticking loudly and with increasing speed.

It is time to disentangle the threads of what we think should happen from what we think will happen. Personally, I am sympathetic to the players' cause, which is not about enriching a few but carving out a viable career for a few dozen. In my view, they are not being greedy, and the refusal of the Test-playing elite to be bought off or otherwise split from their rank and file is to be admired. 

The revenue-sharing model has brought industrial peace and increased fairness to the top level for 20 years, and it has not impoverished the broader game. CA may warn that this model will not be sustainable into the future, but, coming from a peak organisation bristling with full-time staff, consultants and employees who refer to themselves by their initials – just like a real big-time corporation does – the warnings of a dire future, the kiddies fleeced by mercenary millionaires, sound much more like ideology than candour. As I have written before, CA's approach indicates a will to overstate player power in order to break it.

That said, whatever anybody thinks ought to happen is irrelevant. Whether CA's approach is motivated by finance or ideology; whether or not the administrators are making us 'the laughing stock of the world', as a Sydney radio ‘shock jock’ declared in one of his worryingly frequent forays into sanity; whether CA has behaved reprehensibly or intentionally in sabotaging its own negotiation process; all of this makes it more rather than less likely that CA will be the side to blink last.

Past behaviour is the best guide to future action. It's often forgotten about the World Series Cricket (WSC) era that the 'rebel' Australian players wanted to keep representing their country in traditional Test and Sheffield Shield cricket, but were banned by the then Australian Cricket Board, which preferred to send out a third-rate national team rather than compromising with the WSC signatories. In the players' initial hopes, WSC was to run parallel to traditional cricket. It was the board that stopped that happening and turned the players into outlaws.

But WSC is not the most relevant precedent. In 1977, Australia's best cricketers were receiving little more than the average  wage,  often less. They were amateurs, representing their country for honour and glory, and as board secretary Alan Barnes infamously warned them, tens of thousands of Australians were willing to swap places with them.

Today's male Test cricketers are wealthy young people with a stake in the game's success and the status of partners with the administrators. This reflects the game in 1912, when the players owned and ran cricket's principal cash cow, Ashes tours to England. They shared some of that revenue with administrators, who trickled their revenue down to the grassroots. The stakes are higher now but the basic elements are the same: administrators trying to break the solidarity of Test players who, before 1912, earned enough from a single Ashes tour to buy three houses in Rose Bay, a harbour side, up market area of Sydney (think about that in today's dollars). Then, as now, the players and the board had to share the wealth. 

My belief is that the ACA, on the main principle, is in the right. My prediction is that the ACA will be forced to back down. As in any family breakdown, the fight will not be won on reasoning or persuasion or logic, but on pure bloody-mindedness.

In the meantime, as it's only July, the poor Australian cricket public can hope for the best and take some solace in being envied by the Australian rugby public. With the Bledisloe Cup approaching even faster than the cricket season, there are rugby fans who would do anything to avoid having a Wallabies team trot out to certain annihilation next month. A player strike, causing the cancellation of the series against the All Blacks? What a great escape. As Louise said to Thelma, we're not in the middle of nowhere, but we can see it from here.

Live T20 for the BBC post 2019, but ‘Sky’ retains Test, ODI rights.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 30 June 2017.

PTG 2185-11079.

English cricket will return to the BBC for the first time in more than two decades, with 'Sky Sports' holding off the challenge of fellow pay-TV broadcaster 'BT Sports' to extend its coverage of the sport for at least another seven years, after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced the results of its broadcasting auction for 2020-2024 on Friday (PTG 2184-11076, 30 June 2017).  The new deal, worth £UK1.1 billion ($A1.8 bn) over five years, or £UK220 m ($A371 m) a year, cements Sky Sports' position as the home of live cricket broadcasting in England and Wales, a role they have held since becoming the ECB's exclusive broadcast partner in 2006.

Sky will retain the live rights for Test matches, One Day Internationals and most county cricket.  However, the return of the BBC to live cricket broadcasting for the first time since 1999 is a recognition of the sport's need to re-engage with a wider audience.   From 2020, they will broadcast a total of 21 Twenty20 format games a year on free-to-air television made up of two men's and one women's T20 Internationals, plus ten matches from the ECB's new domestic T20 competition, and eight from the women’s equivalent. They have also extended their radio broadcasting deal, and secured primetime evening highlights and digital clip rights.

Earlier this year BBC’s director general Lord Hall promised that his organisation would give cricket the same standing “as the FA Cup” (PTG 2089-10578, 29 March 2017). Viewing figures for FA Cup matches on the BBC regularly outstrip those for Premier League games shown on ‘Sky'.

 

Tom Harrison, the ECB chairman said: "This is a great result for cricket [as the] ECB has secured the reach, revenue and relevance the game deserves, to help it to grow.  Together, these new deals will deliver the partnership, distribution and investment that will fuel the future of our game, driving recreational, professional and international cricket for years to come.  Right through this process we've been excited to witness a fresh approach to the game and what it offers. This has transformed our relationships and our media deals. I want to thank everyone who has talked with us, shown their enthusiasm and added to our vision for the future”.

ECB Chairman Colin Graves added: "Through these exceptional new partnerships with Sky Sports and BBC we have a unique opportunity to give cricket a very bright future.  It is vital that the game now takes time to plan ahead and invest strategically in all the right places. The ECB Board will lead on this, working closely with all of our stakeholders at every level of the game.  The professional players - the men and women who entertain us, inspire people to play and draw us to the grounds - will rightly be part of these conversations”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,186

Sunday, 2 July 2017

• Legacy of pay dispute ill-will could last a generation [2186-1180].

• Wicketkeeper fined for stumping ’spirit’ offence [2186-1181].

• TV deal a potential game-changer for English cricket [2186-1182].

• Barricades at Lord’s after terror attacks [2186-1183].

Legacy of pay dispute ill-will could last a generation.

Gideon Haigh.

The Australian

Saturday, 1 July 2017.

PTG 2186-11080.

The waiting, at least, is over. The last nine months of interchange between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) have moved at the pace at which glaciers proverbially used to run; from here it may be more like they run now with climate change, which is ­suddenly, unpredictably and ­destructively.  As a result over 200 professional players are now ‘unemployed' (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017). 

Perhaps it had to get to this point. Certainly that appears to have been the perspective of CA, seemingly content to run the clock down, indulging every so often in a stagey reveal or barely veiled threat.  And maybe the cricketers grew to mirror them.  Whatever the case, the parties could be about to waste more money than this dispute is worth to either of them.

Blame for that lies largely with CA, on whom it was incumbent to explain the need to alter the status quo, and to do better than airy and faintly opportunistic invocations of “grassroots”.  Yes, cricket’s “grassroots” are under pressure. But that’s because of a vastly complex nexus of forces, from atomised working weeks and changing demographics to ­inflated property prices and the ideological drift of local government, and only at the margin because professional cricketers derive their ­rewards from a cut of cricket’s ­revenue.

Perhaps it would be different were CA intending, for example, to use an expanded kitty to grant every Australian cricket club $A10,000 (£UK5,835) — not, by the way, the ­silliest idea, essentially a kind of microfinance initiative.  Yet CA’s intended strategy for tending said “grassroots” has been no better articulated than involving a significant expansion of its own headcount. Bureaucracy always thinks it knows what’s best.

Arguments against the current cricket pay model are not without force — and it’s as well to observe here that there is no “right’ way, no “optimum” international model against which to benchmark. If one was redesigning Australian cricket on a clean sheet of paper, paying players from revenue might well not be how you would do things.  But, like it or not, it is the starting point — a simple, robust, ­mature and flexible mechanism with a 20-year record of demonstrable effectiveness in aligning the interests of players and administrators, with the former granting a certain dignity after 90 years of their predecessors being treated like the hired help.

Players also object, quite understandably, to being presented as impediments to the game’s progress, especially by individuals whose connection to the interests they purport to champion is so tenuous.  Some more sophisticated observers have summoned up the bugaboo of the $200,000 (£UK116,745) domestic cricketer playing Sheffield Shield in front of yawning stands.

This is misleading. Firstly, barely one in 20 Shield cricketers earns anything even in this neighbourhood; the median income is less than half that.  Secondly, Shield cricket’s output is not spectacle, or entertainment, or media property. It is cricketers. And in this respect it is hardly “unsustainable”. Domestic cricket has nurtured future internationals and so it has worked immemorially.  Thirdly, a point so obvious as hardly ever to be made, cricket is a risky occupation. 

What proportion of practitioners grow genuinely wealthy by it? One allots it one’s youthful prime; one builds one’s life around its pursuit; its end leaves, eventually, a sizeable hole, in income, qualifications, health, other life experience.  What risks do CA’s pampered executive incur while running their lucrative monopoly? Apart from those they’re creating themselves, I mean.  For, at least at this point, that’s the rub of it. Many figures have been bandied out in the dispute, but the figure that should concentrate the minds of all involved is the figure we don’t know: the cost of trashing cricket’s biggest assets, and leaving a legacy of ill-will that could last a generation.

Two decades’ earnest and ­constructive endeavour have gone into persuading Australian cricket and cricketers to at least look in the same direction, if never quite march in lock-step.  All it has taken to reawaken the race memory of overmighty administrators lording it over players has been some sour emails from James Sutherland and Pat Howard, and CA chief negotiator Kevin Roberts’ ­funniest home videos.  All it has taken to squander years of zealous, idealistic work in women’s cricket is that from next week every one of the players patiently built up in the public mind through the Women’s Big Bash League will be out of contract.

Last year, Cricket NSW gave ­itself a huge pat on the back for raising the NSW Breakers womens’ side to professional status, encouraging players to forsake their existing jobs (PTG 1940-9758, 7 October 2016). Next week they are without work.  Have you heard a peep of regret about this? You won’t, because to CA this is good. It is a strategic advantage, a negotiating pressure point. Make the female players sweat a bit, and you might breach the ACA’s lines of resistance. So clever! Or maybe too clever by half. Because eventually everyone will revert to their former roles. With what attitudes, regrets, distrusts, bitternesses will they do so?

Every minute this dispute ­continues, meanwhile, years of public goodwill, dollars of commercial value and hours of manpower are wasted. For what point the expensive infrastructure of the game if there are no players to tend, coach, pick, sell? To what end all the spin doctors, marketers, executives, even directors?

The suspicion lurks that CA’s board is drawn on by the vision splendid of a sleek, shiny, top-down controlled, matrix-managed corporate machine in which obedient automata meet hurdle rates of cricket return while a ­captive media yells rah-rah. Kevin Roberts apparently refers to cricketers as CA’s “internal customers”.  There’s one for the ’new speak’ award of the year!

Does this sound like a game you’d love? Cricket actually needs its rough edges, its push and pull, its checks and balances, even its inefficiencies and anomalies; it needs a high-profile player like David Warner to drive whatever car he wants, because it stimulates, glamorises, annoys; and it needs administrators to grasp that, in this instance, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Wicketkeeper fined for stumping ’spirit’ offence.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Saturday, 1 July 2017.

PTG 2186-11081.

Niroshan Dickwella of Sri Lanka has been fined 30 per cent of his match fee for “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game” during his side's opening One Day International (ODI) of the series against Zimbabwe in Galle on Friday.  Wicketkeeper Dickwella gathered the ball, and waited many seconds for Solomon Mire to leave the crease, before finally breaking the stumps, long after Mire had completed the shot.  

When Dickwella made the appeal, the decision was sent to third umpire Nigel Llong, who found the batsman to be in his crease at the time the bails were dislodged in any case.  The charge against the Sri Lankan was laid by on-field umpires Ian Gould and Ruchira Palliyaguruge, third umpire Llong and fourth umpire Ranmore Martinesz. They are likely to have taken exception to the length of time that elapsed between the stroke's completion and the stumping attempt.  Dickwella admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Chris Broad and, as such, there was no need for a formal hearing.

Dickwella went into the match with five demerit points against his name and he was given another two for his actions on Friday.   He is therefore now on seven demerit points and if he reaches eight or more within a 24-month period, they will be converted into four suspension points and he will be banned.  Four suspension points equate to a ban from one Test and two ODIs or two Twenty20 Internationals (T20I), two Tests or four ODIs or four T20Is, whatever comes first for the player.

In February, Dickwella was suspended for two limited-over internationals after his accumulated demerit points reached five as a result of two breaches in a space of two weeks (PTG 2056-10414, 22 February 2017).

TV deal a potential game-changer for English cricket.

Mike Atherton.

The Times.

Saturday, 1 July 2017.

PTG 2186-11082.

In 2014, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had a shortlist of three candidates for the vacant chief executive’s position: an entrepreneur, an established county chief executive and Tom Harrison, whose background was marketing initially but more recently in television rights. With a new broadcast deal on the horizon it was Harrison’s expertise in that second field that won him the job.

Harrison’s primary job as chief executive was to exploit the tension between broadcast contenders and deliver a winning deal for the game. On Friday, having announced a partnership with ‘Sky' and BBC worth £UK1.1 billion ($A1.8 bn) to cricket for 2020-24, he did just that (PTG 2185-11079, 1 July 2017). That figure was boosted significantly by a mammoth bid from ‘Sky', who had already extended its deal to 2019, to secure the rights for the following five years.

As Harrison began to lay the groundwork for the negotiations, which involved the creation of a new T20 competition in 2020 to boost interest and investment, it became clear to him that money should not be the only determining factor. All potential bidders were made aware that reach, engagement, and exposure would be critical — as well as the size of the cheque. The mantra “reach and revenue” was the key driver behind the negotiations.

Cricket is a sport that has faded badly in the public consciousness. An ECB survey three years ago indicated that the number of people playing the sport in England and Wales dropped from 908,000 in 2013 to 844,000 in 2014.  Those numbers led the ECB then to "promise an increase in funding for grassroots cricket” and to encourage county boards to change start times and play shorter matches to fit in with modern lifestyles including work pressures (PTG 1463-7085, 20 November 2014).

That is why Harrison was keen to stress that the agreements with Sky and BBC were “strategic partnerships” rather than simply “transactional relationships”. Both organisations will exploit their rights, but they will be expected, to use Harrison’s phrase, to “put their shoulder to the wheel” to help to drive participation and growth. This is why the ECB was keen to be partners with what Harrison called “the two biggest audience generators in this country”.  Now, the responsibility for growing the game will be shared, as cricket tackles a key puzzle common to all sports: how to engage young people and the audience of the future.

To that end, the English game’s governing body was impressed with the 'Sky Ride' initiative that has created interest and increased participation in cycling among millions of people of all ages, and which will be used by the broadcaster as a template to generate more interest and engagement in cricket. As for the BBC, Harrison expected “a multi-pronged” approach, with the “full weight of the national broadcaster” being put behind their digital, audio and visual content. We have to be careful though not to become complacent and think just because cricket is back on the BBC the game will grow remarkably.

Sure, live cricket will return to BBC television in 2020 for the first time in 21 years.  Despite that, there remains no appetite from terrestrial broadcasters to show Tests live because of the length of time it takes and uncertainty over the hours of play. Nevertheless, the level of interest from potential bidders, given the amount of Test cricket on offer, moved Harrison to declare it “a great day” for supporters of Test cricket.

So the first plank of Harrison’s job is complete. Now, his tasks will be to put some flesh on the bone as to how Sky and BBC will help to drive growth, how the new T20 competition, about which the rights-holders will have some input, will look and feel and how the money will be spent. When asked the latter question, he paused, smiled and said: “Wisely”.

There is ample time to put plans in place to ensure that the game spends the money appropriately. Clearly, it was a good day for the professional players around the country and it was a good day for county clubs, too, some of whom are heavily in debt, short of cash and who can now look forward to seven years of secure revenues. This is a chance to put the game on a more secure footing for the future.

The ECB must also remember that it is responsible for the whole game, professional and amateur. Harrison promised to “learn the lessons” from other sports, where the top end has benefited disproportionately to the bottom. While the responsibility for spending the money will be the ECB’s alone, it should be held to account in due time over its commitment to the recreational game. It is a game for all.

There was no hiding Harrison’s sense of relief, though, that he has delivered what he was put there three years ago to do. The media landscape is changing and it was a deliberate decision to go to market early, as a football-free window appeared. He hailed the deal as a “game-changer for cricket in this country”.

Barricades at Lord’s after terror attacks.

Martyn Ziegler.

The Times.

Saturday, 1 July 2017.

PTG 2186-11083.

Giant concrete blocks have been installed outside Lord’s in a bid to stop terror attacks in which vehicles have been driven into people.  The hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) barriers are approximately three metres high and will remain at the ground for the rest of the English summer.  Heightened security will also see armed police officers inside Lord’s itself and extra monitoring of the queues as people enter the ground.

The concrete barriers, along St John’s Wood Road, will remain there until the end of the England-West Indies Test in mid-September.  A spokesman for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) said: “Security has got to be our top priority and the MCC considers the measures that have been put in place to be a proportionate response. We have a very strong relationship with the Metropolitan Police and have discussed all the options”.

Spectators attending Lord’s matches, starting with Saturday’s One-Day Cup final between Nottinghamshire and Surrey, can also expect “robust searches of bags”.  “Clearly there is a tradition at Lord’s for spectators to bring picnics and drinks but there will be searches of bags”, added the MCC spokesman. “We are confident the measures will ensure everyone has a safe, enjoyable day”.

The HVMs were installed using forklift trucks to create a barricade between the surrounding roads and Lord’s. Similar protections have been installed in popular areas around the capital since the deaths that resulted when vans were deliberately run into pedestrians in the London Bridge area, Westminster Bridge, and Finsbury Park over the last few months.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,187

Sunday, 2 July 2017

(Second edition)

 

• ICC names unchanged senior umpire, referee panels for 2017-18 [2187-11084].

• Aussie players won't tour without MoU, but offer Ashes ‘lifeline’ [2187-11085].

• How cricketing quota policy has impacted South Africa [2187-11086].

ICC names unchanged senior umpire, referee panels for 2017-18.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 2 July 2017.

PTG 2187-11084.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) named an unchanged twelve as members of its Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) for 2017-18, suggestions from the world body earlier this year that it hoped to add two additional umpires to the group for the year ahead not coming to fruition (PTG 2044-10353, 10 February 2017).  The ICC's seven-man Elite Match Referees Panel (EMRP) also goes into the new year unchanged.

The EUP for 2017-18 will therefore be made up of: Bruce Oxenford, Paul Reiffel and Rod Tucker (Australia), Richard Kettleborough, Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong (England), Aleem Dar (Pakistan), Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka), Marais Erasmus (South Africa), Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand), and Sundarum Ravi (India).  Four of the current members, Dar and Kettleborough both three times, and Dharmasena and Erasmus each one, have been named the ICC’s 'Umpire of the Year’ this decade (PTG 2011-10172, 23 December 2016). 

The seven match referees are: David Boon (Australia), Chris Broad (England), Jeff Crowe (NZ), Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka), Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe), Javagal Srinath (India) and Richie Richardson (West Indies).

For Dar it will be his fourteenth year on the EUP, a record, Gould his ninth, Erasmus and Tucker eighth, Dharmasena and Kettleborough seventh, Llong and Oxenford their sixth, Illingworth and Reiffel fifth, and Gaffaney and Ravi the third.  Their ages as the new ICC year starts range from Gaffaney at 41, to Kettleborough 44, Dharmasena 46, Llong 48, Dar 49, Ravi and Reiffel 51, Tucker 52, Erasmus and Illingworth both 53, Oxenford 57 and Gould 59.  

The coming year will take Madugalle’s time and an international referee to 26 years, Broad 16, Crowe 14, Srinath 12, Pycroft 9, Boon 7 and Richardson 2.  Their ages run from Richardson at 45, to Srinath 48, Boon 56, Crowe and Madugalle both 58, Broad 59 and Pycroft 61.

During the next 12 months it is likely that Dar will stand in his 350th senior international, a record for an umpire, Llong his 200th, Dharmasena, Erasmus, Kettleborough and Oxenford their 150th, and Gaffney, Illingworth and Reiffel their 100th.  A 50th Test beckons for Dharmasena, Erasmus and possibly Llong, and the 200 One Day International (ODI) mark for Dar.  Madugalle looks like passing the 600 senior international mark as a referee, Broad and Crowe 450, Srinath 300, Pycroft 250, Boon 200 and Richardson 50.

Dar starts the new contract year on 337 matches on-field (111 Tests, 185 ODIs and 41 Twenty20 Internationals), Gould on 227 (60/120/37), Llong 184 (42/110/32), Tucker 157 (53/69/35), Dharmasena 148 (45/81/22), Oxenford 143 (41/82/20), Erasmus 140 43/71/26, Kettleborough 138 (44/72/22), Illingworth 98 (29/53/16), Reiffel 97 (30/51/16), Gaffney 86 (13/53/20) and Ravi 68 (20/30/18).  For the referees the figures are: Madugalle 569 (175/309/85), Broad 444 (87/286/71), Crowe 417 (81/259/77), Srinath 293 (35/198/60), Pycroft 248 (54/137/57), Boon 177 (41/97/39) and Richardson 45 (8/19/18).

A total of 28 individuals have taken up EUP positions over the last 15 years, seven of them being Australians, six Englishmen, three each from New Zealand and South Africa, two from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, and one from Zimbabwe; Bangladesh being the only ICC Full Member to date not to have had anyone on the panel.  Given the ICC’s neutral match officials policy, Dar, Dharmasena, Erasmus, Gaffaney, and Ravi can all be expected to be on duty across the five Ashes Tests currently scheduled for Australia next austral summer.

Of the 28 EUP members to date, 17 played first class players before turning to umpiring: Dar, Mark Benson, Dharmasena, Asoka deSilva, Erasmus, Gaffaney, Gould, Illingworth, Kettleborough, Llong, David Orchard, Oxenford, Asad Rauf, Reiffel, David Shepard, Tucker and Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan.  Six of those also played at Test level: Benson, Dharmasena, deSilva, Illingworth, Reiffel and Venkat.  All the current and past members of the EMRP played at Test level prior to being appointed to the panel.

Aussie players won’t tour without MoU, but offer Ashes ‘lifeline’.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 2 July 2017.

PTG 2187-11085.

Australian players resolved at an emergency meeting in Sydney on Sunday to stand united and boycott all forthcoming tours if no Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cricket Australia (CA) is forthcoming, however, they left open the possibility of a 'special licence arrangement' that would cover series such as the Ashes late this year; but whether CA will accept that approach remains to be seen.  The Sydney meeting, which many players took part in via a phone hook up, was called as a result of the impasse in the long dragged out pay dispute between the players’ union, the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA,) and CA, that has left almost all elite players unemployed (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017).

Alistair Nicholson, the ACA's chief executive said after the meeting: “[CA] has made good on its threats such that Australia’s top men and women cricketers are unemployed.  What has become clear is that a divisive industrial relations push has affected the national past time.  This has manifested in attempts to divide men and women and then divide international and domestic players, which have failed.  Indeed, these attempts have forged even stronger bonds between men and women who play cricket at every level. Without them, there is no ‘cricket’ Australia”.

As a result of discussions the entire Australia A squad, the national ‘seconds’, who are due to fly to South Africa on Friday for a tour, agreed not to take part in it unless there is a resolution to the dispute (PTG 2181-11058, 29 June 2017).  Usman Khawaja, the side’s captain said: "It is not an easy thing to do because I want to play cricket and so do all he other guys.  I haven't played cricket for a long time, and I still do and so do all the other guys. But we're very united”. Players also resolved to abandon August's Test campaign in Bangladesh in the absence of a new pay deal.

While Khawaja and other internationals are out of contract, the majority of the A squad are on multi-year state contracts that CA wants them to honour.   However, the players say they have recieved legal advice that the state deals do not legally compel them to tour overseas with a CA team.  "The tour contract is separate to what the actual [state] contracts are. You get invited to play on any tour for Australia and you either accept the invitation or you don’t”,  Khawaja said.   "As a team, at the moment, we have not accepted that invitation. We'll see what happens at the end of the week”.

As to the so-called “politically important” one-day series tour of India in October, and then the Ashes from November, tens of thousands of tickets for the latter having already been sold, the players' union announced it had devised a rescue plan to sell players' cricketing rights back to CA for such events.   The players resolved to assign an exclusive option to the ACA which would allow it to “facilitate the availability of players on the right terms to assist those games and series that we wish to see played”, a deal that might "extend to the ACA offering the players back to CA”.  

Explaining that arrangement, Nicholson said: "Obviously, the venues [for the Ashes] are all booked and the schedule is there. So it's just a different way to get the players playing cricket contractually. That is something that further work will have to be done on if we don't get to a resolution soon but that's something we'll have to start thinking about now that [the out-of-contract situation] has come along”.  Reports say the idea of the players body controlling cricket in such a manner is not expected to sit well with administrators.

As those players without CA contracts or multi-year state deals are unemployed, they have the right to accept sponsorship deals with rivals to CA's official partners. They have even begun discussions on the possibility of establishing their own tournament. They could also join alternative tournaments but have been warned by CA that International Cricket Council regulations mean they could face six-month sanctions for doing so (PTG 2182-11066, 29 June 2017). If they were to join an unsanctioned tournament this month, they could be miss the entire Ashes series.  The players have vowed to test these rules in what they believe would be a restraint of trade (PTG 2180-11053, 27 June 2017).  They also agreed on Sunday to the making of payments from the union’s “hardship” funds where needed (PTG 2139-10840, 19 May 2017).

ACA executive member Shane Watson said he was disappointed CA kept rejecting offers of mediation (PTG 2177-11036, 25 June 2017), and that he believed the fans backed the players.

CA responded via a brief media release late on Sunday afternoon that simply “notes” that players are "unavailable to tour South Africa in the absence of a new [MoU]”. The statement said somewhat dismissively: "Australia A is a development tour which gives players an opportunity to perform at a high level.  It is therefore surprising that players would elect not to tour, however CA has never, and would never attempt to force anyone to play for an Australian team who is unwilling to do so”.  CA said it "remains ready to negotiate a new MoU" and "again called on the ACA to show genuine flexibility and commence negotiations in the best interests of the players and the game”.  No mention was made of the Ashes contract proposal.

How cricketing quota policy has impacted South Africa.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Sunday, 2 July 2017.

PTG 2187-11086.

Cricket is a numbers game. Runs, wickets, averages and strike rates are the currency of the sport. But in South Africa the numbers mean something very different altogether and the team that plays against England at Lord’s in the first Test this week has had to meet a numerical target way beyond the bat and ball (PTG 2129-10794, 10 May 2017).

Two years ago Cricket South Africa presented a 37 page document to the national government outlining how it would implement transformation policies aimed at giving opportunities to “previously disadvantaged” people (PTG 1622-7911,19 August 2015). The specific focus was on “on increasing black African players", whose progress had stagnated since readmission two decades earlier.

It has resulted in a quotas policy at all levels of cricket that is being felt right to the top of the national team. At provincial level there now have to seven non-white players of which three must be black African in every team.  At first-class level the number is six non-whites of which two have to be black African. It is non-negotiable.

For the Proteas, as the national side are known, the quota number is the same as at first-class level but it is more flexible and an average is taken across the year, rather than implemented in every match.

But that leads to suspicions that some black players are picked in less important matches to help meet the annual target. Selection is much simpler when the focus is on merit only. "It's a difficult one. South Africa has come from a history that we know about”,  said Barry Richards, one of South Africa’s greatest players but one whose career was played behind the curtain of a sporting ban.

“When I came to play county cricket and I first met Garry Sobers, people like that, picking a team was on merit, I've always been of that opinion.  Whether you can do that in the South African context,  I think we're now we're far enough along the line to say we can pick it (the South Africa nation team) on merit. But where it's causing a problem is a little further down the line". 

"You've got this transformation policy where an Indian player like Hashim [Amla] becomes different from a black player like [Kagiso] Rabada in terms of team selection.  It's a machination of politics and sport, it's never been a great mix. The transformation policy, I can see what they are trying to achieve, but whether they achieve the end goal of a merit selection at level remains to be seen”.

Part of the problem is communication. The better coaches are honest and tell a black player he may well have only been picked for his colour but the message is ‘take your chance’.  Players such as Temba Bavuma, who last year against England became the first black player to score a Test century for South Africa, and Andile Phehlukwayo, have enjoyed opportunities earlier than merited but justified them with performance. Their successes have come against a backdrop of scepticism over their place in the side from team-mates, media and supporters.

“I don't think they make it clear enough to the fans and then you have people on social media having a go at each other from day one over it”, said Richards. "The issue is over a period of a time. There might be less [players of colour] in a Test match and more in a One Day International, to average out over percentage. At the lower level it's just coming in”.

There are around 50 private schools in South Africa churning out possibly one player each per year who would have a chance of making a career in first-class cricket.  There are six franchise teams playing first-class cricket. With six non-whites per team that leaves 30 spots for white players. Add in white players in their late 20s and 30s who are experienced cricketers the team relies on for consistent runs who are automatic picks, and that leaves little opportunity for young white players. Many more will drift to England to serve the qualification period, while older players take the Kolpak route (PTG 2097-10628, 6 April 2017).

“Your back-up players, are very important”, said Richards. “Your (Colin) Ingram, (Hylton) Ackerman, your Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw who are both at Hampshire on Kolpak deals (PTG 2022-10231, 7 January 2017). If those guys are saying we don't like it because we might not be part of the set-up, that's something else you've got to factor into how you implement transformation. It's a problem and I'm not sure they quite know what the solution is just yet”.

There is no A B De Villiers at Lord’s this week. He appears to be a man who has fallen out of love with the game he is so brilliant at playing. Some trace his frustration back to the World Cup semi-final in New Zealand two years ago when he wanted to pick Abbott but had to choose Philander, who is defined as a player of “colour”, instead.

His team lost and De Villiers at no point has blamed selection but he does wonder in his autobiography if the “decision been made for purely cricketing reasons?" But De Villiers accepts the reality of captaining South Africa. “I was certainly not blind to the wider issues and I regard the process of transformation in South African cricket not as something imposed on the game but as something that was morally the right thing to do”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,188

Monday, 3 July 2017

 

• Court bans girl from playing in ‘Jewish Olympics’ boys’ team [2188-11087].

• NZ Cricket should heed impasse in Aussie [2188-11088].

• Grassroots cricketers waiting for funds to trickle down [2188-11089].

• New CA media rights talks to be delayed, attract lower bids [2188-11090].

Court bans girl from playing in ‘Jewish Olympics’ boys’ team.

The Times of Israel.

Monday, 3 July 2017.

PTG 2188-11087.

An Israeli court ruled on Sunday that a teenage girl was ineligible to play in Israel’s otherwise all-boys national cricket team in the upcoming Maccabiah Games (PTG 2169-11001, 19 June 2017).  The ruling, from the Tel Aviv District Court, means that Naomi Eytan, 14, will be unable to play cricket as there is no women’s competition in the Maccabiah.  Considered the Jewish Olympics the Maccabiah, which starts on Tuesday and runs for two weeks, brings together tens of thousands of athletes from all over the world to compete in Israel. 

Eytan has played in the Israeli national Under-19 cricket team all season, the only girl in the squad of the top 15 youth players in the country. With the Maccabiah Games set to start in a few days, she had expected to join her teammates as they battle against Jewish cricketers from around the world, but was told by organizers that she couldn’t play with the team because it is for males only (PTG 2165-10984, 16 June 2017).

Hours before the court issued its ruling, the teenager’s mother Carmel Eytan, spoke of her daughter’s disappointment if she were barred from playing.  “Look how she stands among [her team mates] so proud in the new uniform, and how heartbreaking it will be if, as a result of an unfair decision, this place that she earned through blood, sweat and tears will be taken away from her for one reason — just because she is a girl!”

Galia Wolloch, president of Na’amat, an Israeli women’s rights organisation, said in the wake of the court’s ruling that “the sad decision of the court, which is based on bureaucratic arguments, is harmful for women’s sports in Israel in general and in cricket in particular. While attempts are underway throughout the world to break the glass ceiling, the judge’s decision today strengthens it and sets it in concrete”.

The court was presented with a statement from Ed Shuttleworth, European development manager of the International Cricket Council (ICC), who supported Eytan’s position.  “If there is no female team it would seem logical to have a meritocratic system where if a player is good enough irrespective of gender they can participate”, he wrote.  The Israel Cricket Association has also put itself squarely on Eytan’s side, with director Naor Gudker appealing to Maccabiah officials to show some flexibility.  

The attorney for the teen, Gali Etzion, expressed her disappointment that the court didn’t listen to the advice of the ICC official.  She said that the court had also partially based its ruling on a misunderstanding of the cricket term “12th man”. The term, which is used in both men’s and women’s cricket, was mistakenly interpreted by the court to refer specifically to men.  Etzion added that despite the ruling, the court stated that the issue should be discussed again before the next Maccabiah Games in four years’ time.

Naomi Eytan said, “I’m an athlete and I’ll always be one. No judge’s decision will break me. My way of proving that I am equal to the boys is to continue training and to participate in the future in the European Championship”.

NZ Cricket should heed impasse in Aussie.

Andrew Alderson.

New Zealand Herald.

Monday, 3 July 2017.

PTG 2188-11088.

The contractual gridlock paralysing and wounding Australian cricket must not endure a repeat in New Zealand.  After months of negotiations Australia's top cricketers are now unemployed, this austral summer's Ashes series is under threat and the Australian women's side will not have their contracts renewed beyond the tournament (PTG 2187-11085, 2 July 2017).

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA) are expected to discuss a new Master Agreement later this year.  The current deal runs until July 2018 but the "lockout" or "strike" across the Tasman - depending on your point of view - suggests compromise is key to ensure the debate does not escalate into acrimony.

The crux of any deal in New Zealand is likely to be the percentage of "revenue share" players receive, the same issue preventing a resolution in Australia.  The revenue share model has worked for Australian players for two decades and was set at 26 per cent in the last Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the players and Cricket Australia (CA). The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) want to keep the system, whereas CA want to implement a fixed salary model so they can invest, they say, more in the game's grassroots (PTG 2160-10961, 10 June 2017).

In the 2010 MoU between NZC and NZCPA, a fixed salary model was agreed, but that could change if the ACA-CA duel is any gauge.  By way of comparison, the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association negotiated a 36.5 per cent revenue share with New Zealand Rugby in December last year.  American professional sports offer further evidence of the model in action. The National Basketball Association, National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League and Major League Baseball (MLB) have arrangements which see players reap anywhere from 47 per cent (NFL) to 52 per cent (MLB), of revenue.

Hopefully a painless resolution can be reached in New Zealand rather than risk what former Australian cricketer Kerry O'Keeffe described as "failing the pub test". That is a scenario where either side's negotiating position flounders against what the average person thinks.  Given centrally-contracted players earn well over the average salary, it's a difficult spot from which to convince Joe Public.

Similarly NZC, who have experienced a gilded run since the Black Caps' success at the World Cup under the leadership of former captain Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson, would be loath to fritter that goodwill away (PTG 2186-11080, 2 July 2017).  If they take a hardline stance it would potentially be at odds with the strides made for inclusiveness in the game, notably the mea culpa and subsequent dedication to women's cricket last November.

Cricket in Australia is faced with repairing a sense of betrayal, but it's worth remembering the extent of public feeling here when the NZCPA was established in 2002. After six weeks of negotiations a peace accord was reached that year on 11 November - Armistice Day appropriately enough - which changed the face of the sport in this country.  However, the relationships between players, administrators and fans were tested to the brink during that period.

Players sought a system consisting of fair incomes, ground standards, and a future voice in running the game. Administrators wanted an affordable set-up which recognised player needs but which wasn't going to break the bank or have the tail wagging the dog. Fans just wanted some cricket.

Debate raged. Did players deserve a reasonable slice of the financial future? Who were these upstarts wreaking havoc with the status quo? Why can't they play for the "love of the game”?  Little has changed in some respects but NZC and NZCPA at least have the chance to prevent any disharmony rather than risk, as observed across the Tasman, not finding a cure.

Grassroots cricketers waiting for funds to trickle down.

Sam Buckingham-Jones.

The Australian.

Monday, 3 July 2017.

PTG 2188-11089.

While the major players and cricketing bodies are buried deep in a multi-million-dollar pay dispute, with funding for the grassroots game being on both group’s lips, former Sydney A grade player Rod Yendle, who volunteers as a coach for several clubs in Sydney’s west and is the head coach for the Sydney Warriors Academy, believes a huge section of the sport’s community has been forgotten: the local clubs.  “You can’t get enough money into grassroots”, he said. “The big players all started somewhere”.

The official cricket season may be over in southern Australia, but the Warriors Academy is still charging ahead. Last week its Under-12 team won its final, undefeated in a small winter cricket tournament in Sydney. Trips to India and Dubai for junior players of all ages have been and gone, and more are planned.  Yendle works with local cricket clubs in the Blacktown ­region of Sydney’s western suburbs, some of which, he said, just scrape by from year to year.

“The main funding is done by the clubs; there’s very, very little — if any — we get from Cricket NSW and [CA]”, says Yendle. “We do our own fundraising, local supporters, sponsorship”.  A local pub, he said, had been an invaluable sponsor for some of the teams he works with. Not every team is so lucky.  “I would like to see more, if there’s available funding, it should go to clubs”, he says.  “Money should go to develop the coaches. A good coach can change the experience for a young player”.

Well-meaning parents who take the reins of a team can sometimes have a negative effect. Without realising, they can favour their own children, or mismatch skill levels.  A few ducks, and a child may be convinced they’ll never be a good batsman.  “There’s a million and one Sachin Tendul­kars out there, according to their parents”, says Yendle.

He says he understands the professional players’ predicament in the dispute: they play at their level for a finite period and need to secure their future while they can.  “The local clubs, the ones I’m involved in, they’ll be around for a long time”, he said. “But cricketers are only in the game for 10 to 12 years, and then what do they do?  All the same, the little grassroots player has sort of been left out of all this” (PTG 2183-11069, 30 June 2017).

New CA media rights talks to be delayed, attract lower bids.

The Australian.

Monday, 3 July 2017.

PTG 2188-11090.

Cricket Australia (CA) is almost certain to delay the negotiation of its next five-year media rights deal until next year, as sports rights experts predict the deal will net the organisation $A200 million (£UK118 m) less than it initially hoped for.   Insiders are suggesting CA will defer the final discussions on the rights deal for months.

The player pay dispute, the appointment of receivers to the Ten Network and media law reform gridlock could all affect the ability of cricket’s governing body to maximise the value of its rights. As one senior cricket source put it late last week: “The deal doesn’t have to happen until early next year”.

Originally, it was planned to seal the rights contracts for both international and Big Bash League (BBL) T20 cricket before the home Ashes series commences in November. Preliminary talks were held with the Seven, Nine and Ten networks and pay-TV.  But there is now a fear at the cricketing body that a quick deal could impact revenue potential.

Cricket Australia reaps $A600 m (£UK354 m), or $A120 m (£UK70.8 m) a year, from its current five-year deal — about $A500 m (£UK295 m), or $A100 m (£UK59 m) a year, for its international rights, with the rest coming from Ten’s BBL coverage. Media companies preparing to bid are worried that if no settlement is reached with the players (who became technically unemployed on the weekend), they will have no product to broadcast (PTG 2177-11036, 25 June 2017).

While the dispute is bothering media networks now, rights specialists say they would be shocked if a compromise was not sorted out before the start of the 2017-18 summer. It is simply not in the interests of either the highly paid players, or administrators, to disrupt the coming blockbuster Ashes season, because it is expected to be an unprecedented financial goldmine with record crowds.

Another issue is the Ten Network. Major secured creditor the Commonwealth Bank appointed PPB Advisory as its receiver over the weekend. Voluntary administrator KordaMentha will manage the network while insolvency specialist PPB maximises sale proceeds (PTG 2179-11050, 27 June 2017).  The current media law reform gridlock in the Australian parliament could affect a sale of the network. Administrator Mark Korda of KordaMentha last week said he would ask Australia's Federal Court to delay Ten’s next creditors’ meeting until after parliament resumes in early August, in the hope media reform laws would pass.

CA originally hoped the next rights deal would net it as much as $A900 m (£UK531 m) over five years: about $A120 m (£UK70.8 m) a year from the international Test and one-day rights for the Australian summer, and about $A60 m (£UK35.4 m) a year for the BBL. The governing body was optimistic that competitive tension between the three commercial networks and pay-TV would help drive a deal for this sort of money to be completed before the start of the upcoming Ashes beginning at the Gabba in late November.

But with Ten’s problems, sports rights experts now believe a total of about $A700 m (£UK413 m) over five years, or $A140 m (£UK82.6 m) a year, is more realistic: about $A80-90 m (£UK47-53 m) a year for international cricket rights, and $A50-60 m  (£UK29-35 m) a year for the BBL. The BBL is the big TV rights growth area for CA. Their current five-year deal with Ten that expires at the end of the 2017-18 season was only worth $A100 m  (£UK59 m). But it is understood this was one piece of programming where the beleaguered network made significantly more money than it invested.

The extent of its ratings success surprised executives. BBL had broad appeal to an advertiser-friendly younger demographic, as well as families.

What experts believe will help CA to win more for the BBL is its plan to nearly double the number of games in the competition, from 35 in the latest T20 season to a supersized 59-game season in 2018-19 (PTG 2048-10376, 14 February 2017).  A much longer season would run from mid-December all the way until the end of February. CA is looking to mark its territory with the Big Bash during February, traditionally regarded as a “dead zone” between the end of the cricket season and the start of the football season. 

CA considers it important to include Ten as a bidder, allowing the value of the rights to be maximised.  One possibility is that whoever ultimately takes over Ten could join forces with pay-TV to bid for the enlarged BBL. This could see an arrangement along the lines of rugby and Australian Rules football  rights deals whereby pay TVsFoxtel shows all regular season games; some exclusively, and others as a simulcast with free-to-air.

Meanwhile, Nine has made no secret of its desire to get its hands on the BBL, along with its existing international cricket summer schedule of Tests, one-dayers and two T20 internationals (PTG 2106-10683, 18 April 2017).  Seven, too, would also love the BBL, but faces the obstacle of its rights to the Australian Open for two weeks in January — a time when the Big Bash broadcasts nightly. 

It is understood Tennis Australia has a clause in its five-year contract with Seven (which runs until 2019) that mandates that its evening sessions run on the network’s main free-to-air channel. Cricket officials would be unlikely to allow the BBL to run on Seven’s secondary channels for the two weeks of the Australian Open. However, insiders say it would be premature to rule out Seven from the bidding for T20 league.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,189

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

 

• Rangers on ‘elephant watch’ for Hambantota ODIs [2189-11091].

• CA chief executive refuses to intervene in pay dispute [2189-11092].

• Aussie state player’s real median wage claimed as half CA’s projection [2189-11093].

• South Africa ready for Australia A tour boycott [2189-11094].

• MCC’s cricket universe masters have all but lost their footings at Lord’s [2189-11095].

Rangers on ‘elephant watch’ for Hambantota ODIs.

Agence France Presse.

Monday, 3 July 2017.

PTG 2189-11091.

Sri Lanka is to deploy game wardens to stop wild elephants straying on to the ground when the national side hosts Zimbabwe for the last three games of its five-match One Day International (ODI) series at the Hambantota stadium over the coming week.  The ground, which is some 240 km south of Colombo, lies next to an elephant sanctuary and experts will be on hand at the 35,000-capacity stadium in case any of the herd of about 25 of the mammals in the area cause problems. 

The stadium was built in 2009 under former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, who was from Hambantota, however, it has hosted only a limited number of matches because of its relatively remote location and high maintenance costs.  "There had been a few instances when elephants have broken through the fence and invaded the pitch at night”, said an official, who asked not to be named.  "A patch of jungle starts about 100 metres from the stadium and we are deploying ten wardens to make sure that spectators don't stray into that area and provoke the elephants”.

If the elephants do show up it will not be the first time wildlife has disrupted games at Hambantota.  Swarms of wasps that have taken up residence there sometimes caused problems, including during an ODI between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh four years ago (PTG 1081-5260, 26 March 2013).

CA chief executive refuses to intervene in pay dispute.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 3 July 2017.

PTG 2189-11092.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland declined to intervene in the pay dispute between his board and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) on his return to the head office last week after spending time in England on International Cricket Council-related business.  That comes despite players maintaining their calls for Sutherland to negotiate with his opposite number at the ACA, chief executive Alistair Nicholson, as the best way to resolve the current standoff over a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).  

In Sydney on Sunday, the ACA's executive passed a resolution that states: "The players affirm their view that third party mediation at chief executive level remains the right process to resolve the current impasse”. Reticence from Sutherland to get involved, apart from sending a terse letter in mid-May stating that out of contract players would be unemployed should no agreement be reached by the end-of-June deadline (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017), maintains his customary position of delegating industrial relations to other senior executives. However, he has on previous occasions entered talks late in the process to ensure their smooth progression (PTG 2182-11067, 29 June 2017).

Negotiations over the next MoU have instead been led by Kevin Roberts, a former board director now employed as CA's head of strategy and people, with strong involvement from the CA chairman and former Rio Tinto managing director David Peever. In addition to expressing his own strong views about needing to break up the revenue sharing model reducing the influence of a "third party" in the workplace, Peever added his own industrial relations advisor, Ken Bacon, to the negotiating team.

Another former Rio Tinto executive, Mark O'Neill, is also now working at CA as the head of a new public affairs department, 'communications, government relations and infrastructure'. O'Neill's appointment was revealed in February as part of a wider executive restructure that also saw the head of the Big Bash League, Anthony Everard, appointed as executive general manager for events and leagues (PTG 2039-10326, 5 February 2017).

Roberts' position mirrors that of Sutherland himself 20 years ago when he was first hired by the former chief executive Malcolm Speed to oversee financial and MoU matters at what was then the Australian Cricket Board. After three years in that role, Sutherland was elevated to the chief executive position, and it is widely expected that Roberts will be in line to succeed Sutherland whenever either the incumbent or the board decide it is time for change.

A key to any succession, or Sutherland's retention, will be the outcome of the current dispute, which on Monday saw state players and also the Australia A squad taking part in pre-season training without being under contract. The Australia A squad has effectively given CA and the ACA until Friday to make progress in MoU talks while going about their pre-tour training camp in Brisbane as usual, while reserving the right to withdraw from that tour or any subsequent ones if there is no sign of a resolution (PTG 2187-11085, 2 July 2017).

Much of the players' discontent relates to the desire to remain partners in the game by sharing in its revenue. The current CA offer to the ACA has been used as an example of why reverting to employee status would leave the board without accountability and the players with inferior terms of pay and conditions to those they enjoyed under the now former MoU.

Aussie state player’s real median wage claimed as half CA’s projection.

Matthew Engel.

The Guardian,

Monday, 3 July 2017.

PTG 2189-11093.

Former Australian batsman Ed Cowan says that Cricket Australia’s (CA) suggestion that the average annual wage a domestic player will earn  a year by 2020-21 will be $A235,000 (£UK139,105) is misleading for that amount includes fees from combined state and Big Bash League (BBL) contracts, superannuation and prize money.  Speaking on radio on Monday, Cowan said the real median wage of state contracted will in reality be "less than $A100,000” (£UK59,195).  "We're trying to compete with other sports, attract talent, and yet domestic players, particularly those who don't play in the [BBL], do not get paid very well”, said Cowan.

"Averages and medians are very different numbers. What CA likes to do is average the top contract with the bottom contract and say 'that's your average player'. But we've got 20 people in our [New South Wales] squad, and 70 per cent of them will be within $A20,000 (£UK11,840) of the base contract. The top contract is within $A40,000 (£UK23,675) of the bottom contract, and there's a $A70,000 (£UK431,435) gap between that and the [CA offer] average. No-one's even close to that.  I've talked to players from every single state, I've played for two states, and been a senior player in both those states”.

CA revised its offer to the players a week ahead of the last Friday’s Memorandum of Understanding expiry by offering to include all players - male and female, international and domestic - in its capped bonus model and also offered to increase wage levels being offered to domestic male players. However, this was rejected by the ACA due to a lack of detail and the continued absence of revenue sharing (PTG 2175-11028, 23 June 2017).

South Africa ready for Australia A tour boycott.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017.

PTG 2189-11094.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Haroon Lorgat has revealed alternative plans are already being hatched to cover for the absence of an Australia A team for a series starting there next week, saying he had been warned by Cricket Australia (CA) of the "possibility of the tour not happening”. An unofficial two-‘Test' series between the Australian and South Africa A sides is due to begin in Pretoria on Wednesday week but will be abandoned by Australian players unless there is significant progress in stalled pay talks with CA that have left many players out of contract since the weekend (PTG 2187-11085, 2 July 2017).

That remains a distant possibility with CA chief James Sutherland having refused to accept the demand of the Australian Cricketers' Association that he enter negotiations himself in an effort to thrash out a peace deal (PTG 2189-11092 above).   The Australia A squad assembled in Brisbane for a staging camp on Monday and will begin training on Tuesday under the supervision of head coach Jason Gillespie and assistants Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin. Elsewhere, state players rolled up to training despite many facing the prospect of not being paid on the cricketers' next monthly pay day on 15 July.

The uncertainty around the participation of the Australia A side in two four-day games and a one-day tri-series also including India has complicated planning for CSA, which is now beginning to organise contingency arrangements in the expectation of a tour boycott.  "There is nothing at all that we can do about it. We'll have to deal with whatever happens”, CSA chief Lorgat said from London on Monday.  "We are working on plans, it is no big issue for us to make alternative arrangements. We respect what [CA] is working through with the players and we will have to live with the absence of Australia A if it comes to that”.

MCC’s cricket universe masters have all but lost their footings at Lord’s.

Matthew Engel.

The Guardian,

Monday, 3 July 2017.

PTG 2189-11095.

With the great weekend of the summer at cricket’s HQ – the Test against South Africa – coming this week, several hundred members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) gathered in the pavilion not long ago (PTG 2172-11017, 22 June 2017). They were not, however, discussing the match but an issue which, unknown to most cricket followers, is causing far more worry at Lord’s than the state of England’s batting order or for that matter the game around the world.

They met not in the Lord’s pavilion, the grand and famous Victorian one, but in something called the Nursery Pavilion, which is a prefab – hardly more than a glorified marquee – hard up against the forbidding brown-grey brick “prison wall” that separates the sacred home of cricket from the busy Wellington Road.  It has to be a prefab. MCC cannot dig down here, not even to plant a rose bush. They have not merely lost their old role as masters of the cricketing universe, they do not control all the earth beneath their feet. 

That was the point of the meeting: a chance to resolve a problem that dates back to the late 1800s.  But the current dispute began just before the last millennium and, given that it involves a 999-year lease, it may not be resolved until the next one. For the last 18 years has produced one of the most bizarre and bitter disputes in sport, so vicious that former British Prime Minister Sir John Major – used only to the genteel ways of Westminster – stalked off the committee in disgust.

And though the details are only patchily understood, even by the club’s own members, the continued existence of Lord’s as a major cricket venue could be at stake.

The threat is not yet as urgent as it was at the very start: 1890, when what became the Great Central Railway attempted to get a compulsory purchase order on Lord’s to run its trains in and out of Marylebone station some 800 m to the south-east. It was huge news at the time: a Punch cartoon showed WG Grace on horseback, leading out an army of bat-wielding cricketers to confront an approaching steam engine.

Eventually a deal was done and the railway acquired a 40 metre-wide strip of land under the eastern edge of Lord’s to run its trains in three tunnels. MCC outlasted the Great Central, which fell to the Beeching axe in 1966, although one of the tunnels is still in use running what are now Chiltern trains.

In 1999 Railtrack, the short-lived company that owned all Britain’s track after privatisation, decided to sell off the redundant tunnels, and offered Lord’s a 999-year lease. The club faffed around. So there was an auction instead: MCC bid, but half-heartedly and, at £UK2.35 million ($A4 m) , the lease – and the right to develop the tunnels – was sold to a property company, the Rifkind Levy Partnership.

Oliver Stocken, a well-known City figure and later MCC’s chairman, told me the club could not then afford the tunnels. This is hard to believe. And no one was more staggered by the club’s reluctance than the man who was then chief executive of Railtrack, Gerald Corbett. Of whom more later.

The Great Central was an ambitious company. And the tunnels below Lord’s are not to be confused with Tube lines or sewers: they form a breathtaking space, with innumerable possible uses. It is not clear that even now MCC has realised the potential, below ground as well as above. But it knew right away it was a disaster and it knew who was to blame: not itself for blowing a once‑in‑a‑millennium opportunity, but Charles Rifkind, the man who outbid it. How dare he?

Rifkind lives in St John’s Wood. He passed the prison wall daily, was appalled by the keep-out message it sent passersby and saw the potential. He is a property developer: of course he sniffed money. But it was more than that. The ground over the tunnels was dead space, and he sensed something could be made of it. He assumed MCC would get that too, to mutual benefit.

Instead, for seven years, the club sulked. Then in 2006 MCC appointed an outsider as chief executive, the Australian Keith Bradshaw. He met Rifkind; they got on. And from that arose an elaborate plan called 'The Vision', involving much new digging for a wholesale renewal of the ground. It was pushed forward by a development committee including Major and both Mike Atherton and David Gower. It also gave MCC a £UK100 m ($A170 m) windfall in return for about 140 flats in place of the dreaded wall.

However, this scheme came up against an ever bigger wall in the shape of Stocken, who had become club chairman in 2009. Stocken insisted the plan was impractical and risky, on which point he was probably right; in that sense he might have saved the club. But his methods of getting his own way caused enormous affront: he dissolved the development committee and imposed another, packed with placemen. Major walked out; Rifkind was again frozen out.

MCC has positioned itself in recent years as a moral exemplar to the game (“The Spirit of Cricket”), which makes it fortunate that outsiders know little of its opaque workings. It is not a democracy: almost half the committee and all the major office-holders are appointed not elected. Nor is it much of a club. There is little camaraderie or common purpose. Is the club there primarily for cricket or for its members? No one really knows.

The vast majority of those members come in via a waiting list that now stretches to 27 years: the average age is over 60. Most are anxious to make the most of their hard-won prestige and access. And provided the committee does nothing to prejudice that, they do as they are told. The annual meetings are sometimes contentious, but arguments are invariably settled by an obedient postal vote.

Towards the end of his term, Stocken shored up his power by re-introducing the long-lost system of “starring” preferred candidates for the elected half of the committee. It worked. But there are also a growing number of livelier members, who gravitate towards the unofficial online Pavilion website.

This helped prevent any notion of Stocken securing his own succession. And in 2015 a new chairman emerged, from MCC’s secretive but in this case seemingly fair machinations. His name was Gerald Corbett, an obscure backbencher in MCC terms but the man who as boss of Railtrack had sold the tunnels in the first place. He was, as usual, presented to the membership like a medieval monarch cradling his new man-child to the populace. But Corbett is a more genial figure than Stocken, with greater regard for the niceties. He set about trying to settle the Rifkind business once and for all.

Hence the meeting in the prefab, the last of five “roadshows” – two in London, three in the provinces, just like an Ashes series – presenting two competing development schemes to the members: either a revamped version of MCC’s own piecemeal “Masterplan”, which ignores the contentious strip except to move the Nursery Ground closer to the prison wall; or the latest iteration of Rifkind’s alternative, making use of the disputed territory to include two blocks containing 97 flats – now more discreetly placed on the corners – and offering £UK150 m ($A254 m) in direct payment and assorted sweeteners (PTG 2158-10950, 9 June 2017). No compromises: one or the other.

The precise breakdown of the payment is almost certainly irrelevant because it ain’t going to happen. With the consultations ended, the committee is expected to make a recommendation in late July to be ratified by the members in September. The committee is believed to be almost unanimously against Rifkind.

And the first floor-speaker in the prefab set the tone for the evening: “Residential development at Lord’s, the Home of Cricket? Never! Never! Never!” A former committee man put it more suavely: “We’ve been in business for 200 years … I think we can continue and move slowly forward”.  The Rifkind camp thinks it may have got a draw at the meeting in Bristol, but accepts that it got walloped in the other four matches. Most ballots are unpredictable these days. Not at Lord’s, though.

The debate has undoubtedly been fairer than anything permitted by Stocken. But Rifkind and Morley were not allowed to present their case to the meetings, merely to answer questions. And the document, sent to all members, reviewing both options was clearly, if subtly, skewed, in favour of MCC’s plans; the interlopers were forced to hand out their own brochure outside the gates. On the field, MCC has always been reluctant to doctor its wickets in the home team’s favour. This is a harsher game.

Rifkind’s offer does have something the club cannot match: a thick layer of futureproofing. MCC’s plans depend heavily on Lord’s continuing to host two Test matches a year – which is uncertain even in the very short-term and certainly not beyond that – and on the planned new city-based Twenty20 tournament (PTG 2140-10851, 20 May 2017).

Lord’s also has to cope with council-imposed restrictions on both floodlights and non-cricketing earners like rock concerts. Soon it is likely to be relegated to London’s third-biggest cricket venue, behind the ambitious Oval and the Olympic Stadium (PTG 2159-10955, 9 June 2017). The risk is that it becomes an agreeably quaint relic, an urban Arundel; and, in due course, genuinely hard-up. It requires a particular kind of genius to own 17 acres in St John’s Wood and not have made an impregnable pile of money from the 50-year property boom.

In the meantime the members will delight in the impending defeat of the evil forces of Mammon, although not for the first time MCC may be misreading Rifkind. If this was ever about money for him, that ceased long ago. He could and probably should have just shrugged and moved on to a less contentious site. But he is quite clearly obsessed. He is also very resourceful; with him there is always a Plan B, C or Z.

The Masterplan includes the prettification of the internal side of the prison wall by tree-planting. In pots, to avoid the 18-inch restriction. The other side of the wall is likely to be unchanged. MCC has never worried too much what face it presents to the outside world.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,190

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

 

• ICC has recommended first class concussion replacement trials go ahead [2190-11096].

• Game’s ‘financial imbalance’ a key concern, says WCC [2190-11097].

• Test cricket ’not yet at crisis point’, but work is needed to protect it [2190-11098].

• ICC acceptance of ‘vast majority’ of new Laws Code ‘pleasing’: WCC [2190-11099].

• Just how brazen can the BCCI get? [2190-11100].

ICC has recommended first class concussion replacement trials go ahead.

PTG Editor

Wednesday, 5 July 2017.

PTG 2190-11096.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has recommended that its 'National Governing Bodies' be able to trial the use of replacement players when concussion-related injuries occur in first class matches such that the status of the games involved is not affected, according to the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) World Cricket Committee (WCC).  In late May the ICC’s Cricket Committee recommended such a trial be undertaken (PTG 2146-10888, 26 May 2017), however, there was no mention their suggestion had been taken up following ICC board and other meetings in London late last month (PTG 2176-11030, 24 June 2017).

The WCC says its supports such trials, but makes the point that while the MCC has "studied this area very closely”, it decided not to alter, in its recent review of the Laws, which apply to all levels of the game, to allow for concussion to be treated differently from any other injury”.  

The principle reasons for the MCC’s approach were: "very few cricket matches are overseen by medically trained personnel capable of diagnosing a concussion; umpires should not be placed in a situation of having to make a diagnosis; the Laws allow a replacement player, with the opposing captain’s consent [and] it is believed that, in amateur cricket at least, this would not normally be withheld after a serious head injury; in most cricket, a replacement player is likely to be weaker and so the opposition captain is more likely to grant consent; and finding a ‘like-for-like’ replacement” is not necessarily straight-forward.

According to the WCC, the benefits of allowing concussion replacements are that player welfare is looked after and a player won’t feel forced to carry on, for the good of the team, following a concussion.  A concussed player "cannot make a rational decision over his/her fitness to play”, it says. "In fact, a common symptom of concussion is a belief that you are not injured. This is different from other injuries, where self-diagnosis is done".

The WCC has called for National Governing Bodies to ensure that players and officials at all levels of the game are educated on the risks of concussion.  A ‘safety-first’ attitude towards suspected concussions should be taken, it believes, and the MCC "offers its support to work with any Governing Body on the framing of playing regulations in this area and will continue to monitor this area of the Law”.

Cricket Australia (CA) has in recent years twice asked the ICC for concussion substitutes to apply in its first class games (PTG 1844-9246, 4 June 2016), however, both their submissions were rejected by the ICC.  CA introduced concussion substitutes to its domestic one-day matches during the 2016-17 austral summer under the organisation's then new 'Concussion and Head Trauma Policy', but the same rule did not apply to Sheffield Shield first class games (PTG 2022-10227, 7 January 2017).  

Over the past year there have been a number of incidents in several countries of players suffering concussion during games (PTG 2094-10603, 3 April 2017).  There has also been a number of research projects underway (PTG 2087-10574, 27 March 2017), one being to install sensors in helmets to help them gauge the impact of hits to the head as part of measures aimed at increasing the understanding of concussion in the game (PTG 1958-9855, 25 October 2016). 

Game’s ‘financial imbalance’ a key concern, says WCC.

PTG Editor

Wednesday, 5 July 2017.

PTG 2190-11097.

The balance between the financially "better off" cricketing nations and those with less money is arguably a bigger challenge than efforts to retain equilibrium between bat and ball in the game, says the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) World Cricket Committee (WCC).  The WCC, which held its mid-year meeting at Lord’s on Monday-Tuesday and has had that bat-ball balance issue on its agenda for many years, believes that if international cricket is to flourish, "competitive levels need to be close, and teams need to be able to field their best players”.

The WCC said after its meeting ended on Tuesday it is worried about the "spread of privately owned T20 leagues", and the associated rapid increase in remuneration, recent and anticipated, available to players.  Their concern is that "more players, especially from countries lacking the funds to pay their top cricketers well", will choose such domestic tournaments ahead of making themselves available for internationals.  The more that happens, the greater the threat to not only to Test cricket, but also to One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals, says the WCC.

The current "distribution model" will, if unchanged, see the "rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer”, according to the WCC.  "People now talk about the need for a window for international and Test cricket, rather than a window for domestic T20 leagues”, it says, and asks "the richer countries to give up some funding in the long-term interest of cricket as a whole”.  In  the same breath though it admits such an approach "may prove to be too idealistic”.

The MCC group is worried the game "could soon reach a point of no return” in this regard, for it needs "the best cricketers playing international cricket and the current structure of the game may not provide this”.  It also emphasised that “accountability and governance in individual countries remain fundamental issues and funds must not be distributed without the right checks and balances in place”.  

Test cricket ’not yet at crisis point’, but work is needed to protect it.

PTG Editor

Wednesday, 5 July 2017.

PTG 2190-11098.

The Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee (WCC) believes that not enough has been done "to protect, preserve and encourage Test cricket around the world".  While the situation in regards to Tests is in its assessment "not yet at crisis point", the WCC is of the view that in "some parts of the world”, which it does not list, "there is a perception that [Test cricket is]” in trouble.

The WCC says it is “encouraged" the International Cricket Committee has once again proposed to introduce a World Test Championship, to provide greater context and marketing opportunities for the five-day game, and offers its full support to launch this competition (PTG 2172-11012, 22 June 2017).  "Test match cricket is still the greatest challenge in the sport [and its] ultimate stage”, and a Test 'Championship Final’ every two years "can help the game to protect itself and sustain it into the future”, says the WCC.  "At present, this happens around the world in T20 and 50 over cricket, but less so in Test cricket”.

The WCC offered to support the ICC in helping to shape research the world body "recently confirmed” it was planning to conduct into how the game can make Test cricket "more appealing and interesting to a wider audience”.  To that end the WCC has decided to form a new sub-group, led by its incoming chairman Mike Gatting, which will "focus on what cricket lovers, players and broadcasters most want from Test cricket".

It is not clear "how cricket-lovers would react to the idea of four-day Tests”, says the WCC, and one of the things Getting and his group plan to do is “speak to current players about their own views and broadcasters about their attitudes to Test cricket". It is hoped that this research, "together with consultation with ICC", will "help contribute to the future health of the longest form of the game”.

At its last meeting in Mumbai in December the WCC was "split down the middle" on the issue of whether to introduce four-day Tests (PTG 1998-10088, 8 December 2016). This week's meeting though was said to be "strongly in favour" of retaining five-day Tests, though there was "a minority who would like to see four-day Tests tried out, perhaps in particular for those in the day-night format".

Other issues listed include “the gradual encroachment of domestic T20 leagues into cricket’s schedule, and whether "we need windows [in the annual schedule] for Test cricket?”  The WCC also encourages further of experimentation with day-night Tests, and getting together with sponsors and broadcasters to make every effort to fill grounds for Tests, and that there must be efforts to reduce the earnings gap between playing Test cricket and gaining T20 contracts (PTG 2190-11097 above).

ICC acceptance of ‘vast majority’ of new Laws Code ‘pleasing’: WCC.

Gaurav Kalra.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017.

PTG 2190-11099.

The fact that International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to incorporate the "vast majority" of the changes the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has made to the games Laws into their Playing Conditions this October, is “pleasing" says the MCC’s World Cricket Committee (WCC) (PTG 2102-10650, 12 April 2017). .

The WCC made the point, following its mid-year meeting at Lord’s on Monday-Tuesday, that it "has had a considerable input into the shaping of the revised Laws and was particularly delighted that the new limits to bat sizes” (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2017), and that the "ability to send a player off for violent conduct”, will be part of the ICC’s new playing regulations (PTG 1998-10082, 8 December 2017).

There was no comment in the WCC’s post-meeting media release about suggestions it would be looking at the issue of television umpires calling ‘no balls’ where instant replays are available in games.  In May, the ICC’s Cricket Committee agreed to recommended to its Chief Executives Committee (CEC) such an arrangement be introduced, however, there has been no public indication as to what position the CEC took on the matter (PTG 2183-11070, 30 June 2017).

Just how brazen can the BCCI get?

Gaurav Kalra.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017.

PTG 2190-11100.

For a large number of India's entrenched cricket officials, getting their head around the basic premise of the Lodha reforms is an impossibility. Status quo is so much better than implementing reforms in terms of tackling corruption, nepotism, favouritism, and conflicts of interest.  At a time when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) needed distance from its old guard, it has chosen to embrace them instead. So as they enter court on Friday week urging the judges of the nation’s Supreme Court to tweak their original order, to the world outside, the BCCI has been muscularly defiant.

Look no further than the state of Saurashtra to understand the resistance to the reforms by that old guard. Niranjan Shah has been in cricket administration for the better part of three decades now and to call the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) his fiefdom won't be too far off the mark.  It isn't hard to understand why Shah is one of those kicking and screaming, unwilling to see the writing in bold letters on the wall.  He is disqualified from holding offices as he is over 70 and has held office for longer than nine years, both limits stipulated by the Lodha Committee and accepted by the Court.

Despite the request of its Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administration (PTG 2179-11047, 27 June 2017), the BCCI last week decided to set up yet another special committee, this one made upon seven men, to list for the Court at its next hearing on Friday week the "difficulties" the BCCI confronts in implementing the Lodhad reforms. Shah, a man the Lodha reforms disqualify from office, is a "special invitee" on that panel.  He has been essentially asked to identify the difficulties that exist in evicting himself, and others in the same boat as him, from cricket administration. 

However, it is important that sports administrators retire at a certain stage so fresh blood can be introduced, to enable an infusion of new ideas and greater vigour. To suggest the Lodha changes involve "age discrimination", as Shah has done, is to equate a sports body with a family-run enterprise, where the onus is on the proprietor to call it a day only when he or she pleases.

To counter Shah and his BCCI colleagues on substance is though pointless at this stage. As Justice Lodha himself tellingly observed, the legal process allows for an aggrieved party to argue its case vehemently and offers several stages of recourse. Having exhausted those options, it is bound upon citizens and organisations to submit to orders passed by the Supreme Court. That is the very core of the rule of law. 

The BCCI, instead, has chosen an inexplicable route to shield themselves from adopting this new set of rules for their functioning (PTG 1755-8754, 5 February 2016). They have simply refused do so, citing severe resistance among members to come on board, especially on a few sticky matters. And as an unsubtle delaying tactic, now a panel has been set up to highlight "a few critical points" that they have difficulty in implementing. Surprise, surprise, if those critical points were implemented, they would end the reign of Shah and his ilk. 

In essence, the BCCI is playing with fire, and when it stands up in Court next, it faces the genuine prospect of being singed by irate judges, likely frothing at the mouth at their orders being willfully ignored. By permitting Narayanaswami Srinivasan, who is disqualified from being an official on more than one count by these reforms, to represent his state unit, the BCCI presented the worst possible optics in the public domain last week (PTG 2178-11038, 26 June 2017). Here was the man who had set this chain of events in motion guiding the BCCI on the tactics it must employ in order to only partially comply with an order passed by the country's most eminent legal authority. 

Surely nothing enhances the narrative of the "cosy club" than the continued relevance of, and in fact eminence accorded to, figures such as Srinivasan and Shah (PTG 2019-10215, 3 January 2017). At a time when the BCCI needed distance from its old guard, it has chosen to embrace them instead. So as they enter court with folded hands and bowed heads, urging the judges to tweak their original order, to the world outside, the BCCI has been muscularly defiant. It remains to be seen if, on Friday week, the Supreme Court is willing to simply let this brazen defiance pass and give them a patient hearing.

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,191

Thursday, 6 July 2017

 

• No sign of resolution to cricket’s ugly pay dispute [2191-11101].

• Broadcaster ‘launches’ Ashes season, but don't mention the pay war [2191-11102].

• ‘If CA isn’t overstaffed I’m a Dutchman”: former Aussie captain [2191-11103].

• Men deny women share of 2012-17 $A58.5 m [2191-11104].

No sign of resolution to cricket’s ugly pay dispute.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 6 July 2017.

PTG 2191-11101.

Australia’s elite cricketers enter their sixth day of unemployment with no sign of the warring parties backing down or finding common ground and sport’s industrial relations expert suggesting trust is low between players and administrators. Both sides say there is some communication but neither was willing to go into detail on Wednesday or to label it negotiation.

Cricket Australia (CA) has made it clear it will not pay the 230-odd players who find themselves out of contract. Cheques were due to be mailed out at the end of next week and there are fears among players that they are going to be starved out.  The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) is most concerned about the rookies who can be on as little as $A40,000 (£UK23,520) a year and lower-rung state players who are on $A62,800 (£UK36,925). Female players are in the position of turning down the biggest pay hikes of their career.

CA, too, is facing financial restrictions. Players are almost certain not to go to South Africa at the end of the month for an Australia A tour but cancelling the seven-match One Day International tour of India in October could come at significant cost.  India sent the West Indies Cricket Board a bill for $A55 million (£UK32.3 m) for pulling out of a tour in 2014. The costs of an Ashes boycott would be crippling. Tours by England and India underwrite all other Test cricket played in Australia.

Braham Dabscheck, senior fellow at the University of Melbourne Law School and a former consultant to players associations, said the lockout of players was already the longest industrial dispute in the history of Australian sport and only comparable with the Australian womens’ soccer team’s refusal to tour the United States in 2015 -that too being over a pay issue.  He warned the situation could get as ugly as the protracted strikes/lockouts in the US where baseball, hockey, basketball and football have been involved in standoffs that have dragged out for months.

The cricket negotiations have failed at the same time the Australian Football League (AFL) completed a relatively harmonious deal and as rugby league in Australia begins its negotiations.  The AFL introduced a limited revenue-share model for the first time just a few weeks ago. CA is attempting to end the model it has used for almost two decades. League players are seeking their own revenue share.

“In industrial relations you have high-trust and low-trust relationships”, Dabscheck said.  “The AFL deal, which is based on the old cricket model, is an example of high-trust relations. You only have to look at them announcing the deal and both sides spend time praising the leaders of the other side. Paul Marsh, who was from the ACA and is now with the AFL Players Association, was very positive and so was the AFL.  That is usually what happens in a high-trust relationship".

“Cricket had a high-trust relationship but that is now a low-trust relationship because, in my view, CA is trying to dump the ACA”, he said. “By having a lower share of revenue going to players will give [CA] more money. The interesting thing is they are not struggling for a dollar and they spend a lot of money on administration and staff”.

Broadcaster ‘launches’ Ashes season, but don't mention the pay war.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017.

PTG 2191-11102.

Australian captain Steven Smith stares gravely from the cover of broadcaster Channel Nine's Ashes launch program booklet, clad in the baggy green and with bat in hand. These programs were all over the Centennial Hotel in Sydney on Tuesday, where Nine's commercial, marketing and broadcast teams combined to launch their television coverage of the series in which Smith should be leading Australia.

Yet there's something different about this event, complete with all its expected television pizzazz, breathless salesmanship and the added pep and pepper of the Nine commentary team. Amid the bitter pay dispute, with a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) unsigned, there are no players present, nor is there anyone from Cricket Australia (CA), from whom Nine bought the rights for near enough $A100 million (£UK58.8 m) a season in 2013, as part of a contract that ends next year.

In days gone by, Nine used to sign up numerous members of the Test team to their own deals. Mark Taylor, Shane Warne, Steve Waugh, Ian Healy were all on the network's books at the time of the previous major pay dispute in 1997-98, and it is still felt these deals helped ward off strike action by the players. This time, however, only David Warner among the current team has any sort of deal with Nine, and even he was absent from Tuesday's event.

Nine's Ashes coverage, and its pitch to prospective advertisers to be a part of it, offers a tangible example of how the pay dispute can destabilise the game and, in many ways, already has. As things currently stand, Nine must rely on images and footage from last season and before to sell the Ashes, because the chance of anything new being done has been scuppered by the expiry of the old MoU and the passing of all intellectual property rights from CA to the Australian Cricketers Association's (ACA) new commercial wing - ‘The Cricketers Brand’ (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017).   

So it is that Nine's pitch to the array of corporate types in the room starts with a montage of athletes from other sports saying how much they love watching the Ashes: Harry Kewell (football), Matthew Lloyd (Australian Rules Football), Liz Ellis (netball), Libby Trickett (swimming) and Darren Lockyer (rugby league) are among the luminaries. Nine, it should be said, have taken this lateral approach in previous years, but had they wanted to approach CA to interview Australia's players this week for a similar montage, they would not have been able to.

Next up is Sam Brennan, Nine's director of sales for sport. With a zeal somewhere between 'Mad Men' and Michael Keaton in 'The Founder', he outlines why summer is a great time to advertise: "Summer has a positive impact on the way we consume and the way we behave. In summer we're doing more, we're spending more time outdoors, we're eating more, we're drinking more. Most importantly for this room, we're spending more. On average we expect Australians over summer to spend about $A1,200 [£UK705] more per head than in any other period of the year. That's what's exciting for us and that's what all of us in this room are fighting for”.

With that, he goes into the hard sell. "Irrespective of what industry or category you work in, I think the real challenge for us is to find a meaningful way to connect consistently with our customers over summer”, he says. "Thanks to one of the largest ever marketing campaigns over summer through [CA], we will see for the first time in four years stadiums all around Australia sold out. Add to that the women's Ashes kicking off [in late] October this year, there is no doubt this will be the biggest summer of international cricket we have ever seen on Nine in four decades of broadcasting”.  Phew.

As Nine’s director of sport, Tom Malone, is up next.  He oversees the coverage around which all this prospective advertising may be wrapped. A little over a year and one cricket season into the job, he talks in Olympian terms. "It only comes to Australia every four years. That's why it's so special. Everyone involved times their run around the Ashes. Players, administrators, broadcasters, fans, everyone. It's the Olympics of cricket, but there's only one sport, only one arena, and only one event going on in that arena. All eyes are trained on that event. At the ground, at home, in pubs, at the beach, you can't miss a moment, because it only comes around every four years”.

Another montage on the big screen knits together Ashes footage with images of Australia's emerging team last summer, espousing the virtues of Warner, Smith, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan "cult hero" Lyon, and the young bloods Matt Renshaw, Pete Handscomb and Pat Cummins. As leader of the women's team, Meg Lanning gets a brief mention. Nine, it is clear, wants to sell the exploits and personalities of these players to the advertisers who will then sell their products in between overs. It is all set out as a sure thing - what's more reliable than an Ashes summer? 

But of course there is nothing sure right now. More than 230 players are unemployed, CA have a mess of commercial deals pending, and an event like Nine's launch is meant to signal the start of a period in which issues like industrial relations have already been sorted out, opening the way for work on selling and promoting the game. 'Too Big To Fail', title of a book and film about the 2008 global financial crisis, would apply readily to the looming season.

‘If CA isn’t overstaffed I’m a Dutchman”: former Aussie captain.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017.

PTG 2191-11103.

If Cricket Australia (CA) want to free up more funds for grassroots cricket, former Test captain Ian Chappell believes it should look at the income of staff before the pockets of players. Grassroots funding has been one of the points of the clash between CA and the players' union during protracted pay talks.  CA says community clubs are suffering because of the revenue-sharing model that has existed since it signed the first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) 20 years ago (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).

Adelaide-born Chappell told journalists on Tuesday: "CA are saying they want more money to feed into grassroots. I don't have a problem with that”.  But “if they really want to find money for grassroots, I could find some money for them ... because if Cricket Australia isn't overstaffed, I'm a Dutchman”.

The Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), in its proposal to CA, wants 22.5 per cent of the sport's revenue to go towards grassroots cricket, an approach that would include a five-year, $A119 million (£UK70 m) fund to put towards junior and community cricket (PTG 2155-10930, 3 June 2017).

Former Australian batsman Ed Cowan, who has been among the ACA's vocal backers throughout the saga, raised questions about CA's spending on Monday.  "They've proven in the past they don't spend money in the right areas”, Cowan said.  "We go back to club cricket, we've got kids that run around in grassroots cricket, we know the struggles that are going on and we want more money invested there.  But when you look at a company [like CA] with 450 employees and a huge marketing department and a huge media department, we think 'where does this money go?'"

Some 230 cricketers are currently unemployed because the previous MoU expired last Friday. Instead of providing backpay to out-of-contract players, CA will direct those funds to community cricket, a sum it expects will be around $A1.2 million (£UK706,765) per fortnight (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017).

Chappell thought some state players were probably overpaid, but he said it was important to note the role domestic cricket plays in churning out stars for the national side, who continue to be CA's greatest asset.  He added that CA risk losing more talent to football codes if domestic wages aren't high enough.

Men deny women share of 2012-17 $A58.5 m.

Chip Le Grand.

The Australian.

Thursday, 6 July 2017.

PTG 2191-11104.

Australia’s richest cricketers are refusing to share with our best women players a record $A58.5 million (£UK34.4 m) bonus that will see seven-figure cheques mailed to current and former Test players on the eve of an Ashes series now under threat from the protracted pay dispute.  The Australian Cricketers Assoc­iation’s (ACA) rejection of a Cricket Australia (CA) proposal to carry forwar­d half the sum owed from 2012-2017 into the next pay deal means that women cricketers will receive­ nothing while a retired player such as Shane Watson, a member of the ACA executive, will pocket nearly $A2 m (£UK1.2 m).

Under the formula agreed to in a recently expired CA-ACA Memoran­dum of Understanding (MoU), above-forecast revenue owed to the players is paid out pro-rata, according to individual contracts from the corresponding years. This means the highest-paid Test payers — such as Steve Smith, David Warner and ­Mitchell Starc — stand to receive the lion’s share. Women will miss out. Top male players who have recently retired­ such as Mich­ael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson and Watson, will receive hefty sums based on contracts they held during the past five years.

About $A30 m (£UK17.6 m) will be shared among the country's top 30 cricketers, with hundreds of current and former male state cricketers to divide up the rest.  The cheques are due to be mailed out in October, about a month before the first Test of the next Ashes Test is scheduled to get underway.  The payments will bring to $A101 m (£UK59.4 m) the total unexpected bounty from 2012-17 being pocketed by male players, in addition to $A287 m (£UK169 m) in salaries and bonuses already received under the contentious player revenue-sharing model.

The ACA decision to deny women the financial spoils of the past five years is at odds with its criticism of CA for refusing to include women in a future revenue-sharing agreement.

CA is determined to scrap the revenue-sharing model that guarantees players 24.5 cents from every dollar of gross revenue generated­ by the game. Although the national body has not publicly criticised the male players, it believes­ the inflexibility of the pay model has enriched them at the expense of greater financial priorities such as local cricket and the women’s game.

The ACA insists revenue sharing, a feature of every cricket pay deal since 1997, is “fundamental’’ to reaching a new agreement. Players have made clear their intention­ to boycott this month’s Australia A tour to South Africa and an upcoming Test series against Bangladesh unless significant progress is made towards resolving­ the dispute (PTG 2187-11085, 2 July 2017).

A CA offer to the players on the table since late March would nearly triple the average salaries of international women players over the life of the agreement, from a current figure of $A79,000 to $A210,000 (£UK46,450-123,470) by 2021-22. The average salary of women state players would jump from $A22,000 (£UK12,935), about a tenth of what male state players earn on average, to $A52,000 (£UK30,575) this financial year.

The leading women players, currently in England competing in the Women’s World Cup, are being represented in pay negotiati­ons by the ACA alongside the men. Their solidarity will be tested once they return to Australia and fall out of contract. Until a new deal is reached, they will receive no salary from cricket.

Women players were excluded from the last MoU negotiations by the union. ACA president Greg Dyer says that today’s women players did not want money from the last deal that hadn’t been promised to them. “The female players do not wish to be funded from money that CA is legally obliged to pay the male players”, he said. “Neither the male or female cricketers believed that this was or is fair.  The game is in a fantastic positio­n and can afford to adequate­ly pay both groups as part of a revenue-share mode”.

CA’s proposal to carry into the next MoU half of the so-called “adjustment ledger’’ – the share of the difference between forecast and actual revenue allocated to the players — was included in its formal pay offer. The CA proposal cited a precedent set in 2012, when the players agreed to carry all of the adjustment ledger from the final year of the old deal into the next deal to put towards player payments.

The ACA response, contained in a confidential briefing note sent by chief executive Alistair Nicholson to the players two days after the pay offer was tabled, accused CA of raiding money already owed to the players. “The CA offer does something which is so in­appropriate that it must be an error”, Nicholson wrote. “Put simply, the CA proposal if uncorrected means that the players will be funding the next pay deal out of money already earned”.

The ACA’s refusal to consider the proposal drew an exasperated response from CA’s chief negotiator, Kevin Roberts.  In a letter to Nicholson last month he wrote: “Male players in 2012-17 benefited from the 2011-12 adjustment ledger even if they didn’t play in that year but female players in 2017-22 will not benefit from the 2012-17 adjustment ledger, even if they played throughout. How could this possibly be fair? Given the obvious anomalies that arise from the ACA’s position on this matter, CA is seeking confirmation that this remains your position”.  The ACA confirmed on Wednesday its position had not changed.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,192

Friday, 7 July 2017

 

• Cricket chief steps in but too late to save tour [2192-11105].

• Slow over-rate censure for Sri Lankan womens' side [2192-11106].

• CA busy looking for a range of new HQ staff [2192-11107].

Cricket chief steps in but too late to save tour.

Andrew Faulkner.

The Australian.

Friday, 7 July 2017.

PTG 2192-11105.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has been forced to intervene for the first time in the pay dispute ripping the game apart, but his decision came too late to save the Australia A tour to South Africa.  Sutherland has been under pressure for weeks to join pay talks with players’ representatives (PTG 2189-11092, 4 July 2017). He finally agreed as the South Africa tour became the first casualty of the worst dispute in Australian cricket since the 1970s.

‘A’ squad players who were due to fly out for South Africa on Friday instead left their Brisbane training camp on Thursday and flew home. The cancellation prompted press releases at 20 paces, with each side blaming the other.  The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) said it was “deeply disappointed” at CA’s behaviour, while the administrators called for the players to show more “flexibility”.  CA "regrets that players have made this decision despite progress made in talks between CA and the ACA in meetings over the past week.  These … included ­regular communication between [CA and ACA] chief executives.

In CA’s view those "talks should have enabled­ the tour to proceed as planned [and it] will continue to work towards a new Memorandum of Understanding [with the ACA], which is in the interests of both the players and the game and calls upon the ACA to show the flexibility clearly now needed to achieve that outcome”.  The players refused to tour because they were out of contract and therefore unemployed.

With the South African tour off, attention shifts to next month’s Test tour of Bangladesh. CA revealed on Thursday that neg­o­tiations had resumed with Sutherland’s intervention, raising hopes the Bangladesh tour would go ahead.  Until then the CA chief executive had delegated responsibility for the pay negotiations to lead negotiator Kevin Roberts.

However, Sutherland’s involvement in negotiations did not stop the ACA going on the attack­. “All players are deeply disappointed at the behaviour of CA which forces this course of action, given the players would rather be playing for their country”, said the players’ union.  "(So) it is with great frust­ration that, with no progress ­towards resolving the current dispute, Australia A players ­con­firm they will not tour South Africa­ … This decision is made in support of more than 200 male and female players who are now unemployed”.

The ACA wants the talks to be independently mediated and "again calls on common sense to prevail and for the CA chief executive to attend mediation.  The players want to make sure all men and women who play the game are treated fairly, and grassroots funding is not drained by a top-heavy bureaucracy. The ACA sits at the table awaiting CA’s genuine participation".

Slow over-rate censure for Sri Lankan womens' side.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 6 July 2017.

PTG 2192-11106.

Match referee Richie Richardson of the West Indies ruled that the Sri Lankan side was one over short of its over-rate target in its Womens’ World Cup match against India in Derby on Wednesday.  Should the side commit a second minor over-rate offence during the event with Inoka Ranaweera as captain, she will be suspended for one match.  The charge was laid by on-field umpires Langton Rusere of Zimbabwe and Chris Brown from New Zealand, third umpire Gregory Brathwaite from the West Indies and reserve umpire Shaun George of South Africa.

CA busy looking for a range of new HQ staff.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 7 July 2017.

PTG 2192-11107.

In the week since the last Memorandum of Understanding between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association ran out, CA has been busy on the recruiting front, but not in terms of new players.  Rather, CA has called for applications for eight positions based at its Melbourne Headquarters, three in the ‘Administration’ area, and one each in its 'Coaching and High Performance’, 'Digital’, ‘Finance’, 'Game Development and Participation’ and 'Human Resources and Community’ units .

The jobs in administration are for a 'Customer Service Manager’, a “newly created role” which is a full-time position, while the 'Archive Production Coordinator’ is available as a 12-month contract, and a 'Ticketing Coordinator’ a six-month contract.  Of the jobs in other CA areas, the persons selected for the 'Coach Resource Coordinator’, 'Digital Portfolio Manager’ and 'Finance Analyst’ will all be full-time, the 'Junior Cricket Analyst' spot is offered as a 12-month contract, and the 'Work Health and Safety Specialist’ as a “24-month maximum” part-time role.  No details of the remuneration that will apply to each position are provided in the advertisements.  The closing dates for the jobs range from 10-21 July. 

 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,193

Saturday, 8 July 2017

 

• Swearing offence demerit points adds up to one Test ban [2193-11108].

• England won't tour for Ashes if no MoU [2193-11109].

• The ironies to CA’s sudden ‘grassroots' evangelism [2193-11110].

Swearing offence demerit points adds up to one Test ban.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Saturday, 8 July 2017.

PTG 2193-11108.

South African bowler Kagiso Rabada has been suspended for the second Test of his team’s series against England at Trent Bridge next week after an on-field offence during the opening game at Lord’s on Thursday took him past the International Cricket Council's (IUCC) threshold of four demerit points in a 24-month period.  Rabada, already had three demerit points against his name for “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with an opponent during a One Day International against Sri Lanka five months ago (PTG 2043-10352, 9 February 2017).

At Lord’s on Thursday the South African is said by the ICC to have used “inappropriate language” towards England batsman Ben Stokes after taking his wicket.  The ICC said in a statement that Rabada’s comment was “audible over the stump microphones and resulted in the batsman having to turn before walking off the field”.  Rabada pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the sanction of one demerit point and the loss of 15 per cent of his match fee proposed by referee Jeff Crowe, and as such there was no need for a formal disciplinary hearing.

The Level One charge against Rabada were leveled by on-field umpires Paul Reiffel and Sundarum Ravi, third umpire Simon Fry and fourth official Rob Bailey.  Under ICC regulations, Level One breaches carry a minimum penalty of an official reprimand, a maximum penalty of 50 per cent of a player’s match fee, and one or two demerit points.

England won't tour for Ashes if no MoU.

George Dobell and Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 7 July 2017.

PTG 2193-11109.

England will not travel to Australia to play the Ashes unless a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been agreed between Cricket Australia (CA) and its players' association.  Although the Ashes are not scheduled to start until late November, England are due to fly to Australia at the end of October and a spokesman for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed they would not travel unless they could be assured of the necessary warm-up games required before the Test series begins.

While the ECB remains confident the Ashes will go ahead - a spokesman described the idea of abandonment as "unthinkable" - they recognise the significant divide that currently exists between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) and have noted with some unease the decision of players to withdraw from the Australia A tour to South Africa (PTG 2192-11105, 7 July 2017).

CA and the ACA are in talks over a proposed change in the way in which professional players are paid. With the current MoU between the parties having expired, most players in Australia are technically unemployed and have stated they will not play international cricket until a satisfactory resolution is agreed. The Australian tour of Bangladesh, scheduled to begin in mid-August, looks particularly precarious, with a limited overs tour of India to follow it.

CA's major international broadcast partner Channel Nine is currently in the process of trying to sell advertising for the series and plan for its promotion, and is eager for signs of progress in the pay dispute to aid their efforts (PTG 2191-11102, 6 July 2017).

The real deadline for an ECB decision over the viability of the Ashes might come around mid-October. That is when England Women are scheduled to fly to Australia for a tour that includes an Ashes Test and begins with an ODI in Brisbane on 22 October. Unless matters in Australia are resolved by then, it is entirely possible the ECB will take the decision to cancel both tours and recoup what costs they can. The consequences - legal and financial - would be enormous.

Mid-October is also significant as the day on which adjustment ledger payments from the previous MoU, worth $A58 million (£UK34.2 m) to all male players, past and present, who played international or domestic cricket, are due to be sent out by CA. The board's offer to the players had indicated a desire to rollover half of this amount into the next MoU, a suggestion strongly rejected by the ACA (PTG 2191-11104, 6 July 2017).

Greg Hunt, Australia's federal minister for sport, has indicated that the Australian government would be prepared to step in to mediate the dispute if it dragged on long enough to threaten the Ashes. Hunt said this was because of the series' enormous connection to Australia's history and culture, in addition to its sporting and commercial elements (PTG 2150-10910, 29 May 2017).

"If it got to a last-minute situation, I suspect that we would offer to provide good officers brokering between the parties, but there's six months between now and the Ashes”, Hunt told ABC's Insiders in May. "It would be unthinkable that in the end we wouldn't have a full team. I do not see either the players or the administration returning to the late '70s where we had a second-rate team. The players love playing for Australia, Cricket Australia knows this is not just fundamental to sport, it is part of our national identity”:.

The ECB insist they are making no contingency plans for a men's series with anyone else should the Ashes be cancelled, though it is possible the women's team could look to play elsewhere if required.  In response to the ECB comments, a CA spokesman said, "We are 100 per cent confident that the Ashes will go ahead”.

The ironies to CA’s sudden ‘grassroots' evangelism.

Gideon Haigh.

The Australian.

Saturday, 8 July 2017.

PTG 2193-11110.

“Grassroots” is one of several ubiquitous yet nebulous expressions that has been thrown around in the pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) over the past nine months.  The term is to cricket what “battlers” and “working families” are to the political playbooks. And that requires some explanation.

Let’s face it: cricket is prosperous: it must be, because CA and its constituent associations now employ about 600 people.  For years, under a series of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) between CA and the ACA, Australian male international and domestic cricketers have been paid a set proportion of the game’s revenue, discounted for certain agreed streams, with a fraction within this set aside for the upkeep of the ACA.  

The revenue, derived predominantly from commercial and broadcasting revenues, has risen inexorably and significantly; likewise the game’s costs, CA argues, as it has expanded. In addition, cricket at recreational level faces capacity constraints, infrastructure having failed to keep pace with need.  For this, CA blames the existing pay model, which it argues impedes effective allocation of resources. It now wants to pay players, both the men and the women — who will for the first time be covered by the next MoU — from surpluses, with the concentration of greatest rewards at the very top.  And it wishes to cease contributing to the cost of running the ACA.

There is a modicum of sense here. Cricket is an expensive game to run. It operates within an intricate web of international relations; it is being transformed by consumer preferences and private capital, manifest in the rise of domestic Twenty20, which has in turn radically bid up the cost of its talent, and complicated the commercial environment.

At the same time, like most large sports, cricket has historically stinted on support for its lower reaches, essentially expecting these to be subsidised by the state (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017).  In Australia, “grassroots” funding has never penetrated much more deeply than metropolitan premier competitions; junior cricket, especially, still depends on legions of heroic volunteers; country cricket has drifted into a parlous state.

Cricket received a rude shock last October when the Australian Sports Commission’s (ASC) inaugural AusPlay survey estimated the game had only 562,669 senior and junior male and female club participants, a distinct difference from CA’s own participation figures (PTG 1906-9559, 24 August 2016). While the ASC survey lacked the context of comparative data, a sixth place behind soccer, Australian rules, netball, tennis and golf positioned cricket far from its stated objective of being “Australia’s favourite sport” (PTG 2000-10101, 9 December 2016).

Yet there are some ironies to CA’s sudden “grassroots” evangelism. Over the past decade, resources have been ploughed into a “pathways” system for talent development that has rendered club competition less meaningful, and a gleaming National Cricket Centre in Brisbane whose reputation is somewhat chequered — and for whose further upgrading, by the by, this wealthy organisation is currently seeking $A14 million (£UK8.25 m) in taxpayers’ money (PTG 2178-11038, 26 June 2017).

Extensive efforts have also gone into making Australia’s cricket governance less representative of the clubs that were its original organising units, with an accent at state and national level on independent boards composed of professional directors with commercial and/or legal backgrounds.  This was a recommendation of a 2012 report by governance consultants David Crawford and Colin Carter, legitimately aimed at enhancing board skills and mitigating conflicts of interest (PTG 870-4249, 9 December 2011). But the result, some feel, is an attenuated connection between the game’s top and bottom, with all the ‘suits' starting to look a bit samey.

CA’s Peever is an unfeigned enthusiast for the game, in addition to being an experienced executive. But his board has never quite made good the loss of former director John Bannon, thoroughly steeped in the culture and history of cricket.

Certainly it is passing strange to see players, all of whom still play for clubs, many of whom spring from families deeply connected to clubs, some of whom have been personally generous towards clubs, depicted as insensitive to these clubs’ concerns. It is also odd a body with such a seemingly wholesome message like CA has demonstrated such overwhelming indifference to quantifying, specifying and articulating it.

CA’s preferred modes these past nine months have been to churn out press releases like a ‘Gestetner' machine, increasingly forceful communication with players and dubious document drops with selected journalists.  Chief executive Sutherland hasn’t lasted 16 years in his job by running towards every sound of gunfire. But by leaving underlings to issue CA’s terms, he has cut an increasingly isolated figure, maybe even an obsolete one (PTG 2192-11105, 7 July 2017).

Having helped design the original revenue sharing agreement, Sutherland has given one characteristically halting television interview, back in May, about the need to wind it up, where he said it was essential the parties “sit down and sort things out”— and then it seemed himself did not (PTG 2146-10893, 26 May 2017).  Nor is it so long ago that Sutherland and CA were all for the revenue sharing and buoyant use the other now vexed word in this dispute: “partnership”.

In the aforementioned Crawford-Carter report, the position of the players relative to the game was deemed almost entirely uncontroversial.  The consultants ruled out the ACA having a seat on the CA board, but otherwise thought that “their long-term position is best served by working in partnership with CA”. Peever’s predecessor Wally Edwards spoke of “all of Australian cricket pulling in the same direction as we seek sustained international success for our men’s and women’s teams”.

Over 20 years, furthermore, the revenue sharing arrangement has assumed considerable symbolic importance for Australian cricketers: a kind of inheritance, successfully wrung by the ACA’s founding generation, such as Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and Ian Healy; a form of direct equity in the game in reciprocation of their human capital, and expressive of rights and responsibilities. It has attuned players to the business of nurturing cricket’s good name: where football codes have been racked by doping, gambling and other moral failings, cricketers have remained almost tediously well-behaved.

Considered as a workforce, they have also shown extraordinary flexibility. To mutating schedules, proliferating tournaments, multiplying formats, new skills, changing equipment and increased professional and promotional responsibilities, they have adapted with little complaint.  Not all players past and present, of course, necessarily see things similarly.

In his solitary contribution to the former partners’ ongoing paper war, Sutherland sourly chastised the players for a “reluctance to recognise the necessity of change and innovation”, citing as evidence their reticent embrace of day-night Test cricket — although all they have actually done is express reservations about a barely adequate pink ball, then play with it anyway.  Some see this as integral to the succession of Peever, who in his role at Rio Tinto publicly deprecated unions as “constantly seeking to extend their reach into areas best left to management”.

There is more to it though. The observable reality is that to sports administration, accountability comes ever less readily. CA isn’t a listed company owned by institutions, or a private company answerable to a demanding patriarch, or a state enterprise reporting to government. It submits to no regulator; its expenses are elastic; its income is untaxed, and distributed at its discretion; it not only controls media access to the game but operates its own fast-expanding media outlet.

Historically, CA was restrained by the state associations that banded together in its formation, but its governance evolution is reducing these to barely more than branch offices. Under these circumstances, who guards the guards? The answer, at the moment, is barely anybody. For if the game does assuredly face challenges that will require adaptation, a worthwhile debate has in some ­respects been superseded by CA’s decision simply to assert its monopoly powers and cast cricketers aside.

With the best will in the world, it is difficult to view this as a proportionate response to a stalled pay negotiation between bodies with two decades of productive collaboration behind them; likewise the gratuitous commanding tactics to prevent uncontracted players pursuing their livings elsewhere, which bear suspicious resemblance to secondary boycotts (PTG 2182-11066, 29 June 2017); likewise the ludicrous obsession with how cricketers drive and dress, which looks like petty jealousy. That “David Warner Lamborghini” already generates 650,000 Google hits seems more vulgar than the car itself.

The tone of the ensuing public debate, in fact, should disturb everyone involved, for it has ­flattered neither cricket nor cricketers, revealing embedded prejudices about each, that the players are all prima donnas and the administrators all soulless suits — neither of which, by the way, is remotely true, for they still share more than what divides them.

You can hear the old devotees peeling away; you can detect the young fans’ confusion. After all, try explaining to a 10-year-old why the cricketers they have been taught to admire are now in purdah, and that a Lamborghini is a bad thing when it actually looks like a pretty cool ride. Has anyone — anyone at all — considered the collateral damage that cricket is sustaining at present?

What of cricket’s commercial, broadcasting and administrative relationships? Last week, Nine Network held its season launch, spruiking the 2017-18 Ashes to media and other interested parties, without a cricketer in sight — not so much Hamlet without the prince as Hamlet without the cast (PTG 2191-11102, 6 July 2017). 

But look closely enough while walking along the Cricket Hall of Fame display at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and you can discern a whole alternative history of the game, of authoritarianism, exclusion, snobbery and jobbery.  There’s Noble, Trumper and Armstrong, persecuted by the board for their alignments with the Melbourne Cricket Club; Clem Hill, the punchiest captain Australia has had, who decked a board sycophant in a selection meeting; Miller, the best captain Australia never had, deemed too volatile for the role; even Bradman, who before joining the board was regularly at loggerheads with it.

You walk past Lawry, Ryder and Morris, all sacked as captains without notice. You see McCabe and O’Reilly, mistrusted for their Catholicism, and Betty Wilson, disadvantaged by her gender. There are the Chappells, Marsh, Lillee, Thomson and Benaud, rendered outlaws by World Series Cricket, and Waugh, Warne and Healy, who had to lead players to the brink of a strike 20 years ago to secure the first CA-ACA Memorandum of Understanding and achieve decent remuneration for Sheffield Shield cricketers more than a century after the competition began.

Cricket thought it had moved on. Cricket thought it was now more enlightened. But maybe Faulkner — that’s William rather than James — was right: “The past is not dead. It isn’t even past”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,194

Sunday, 9 July 2017

 

• Aussie players’ rights to be up for sale in India? [2194-11111].

• Return shot fells Nottinghamshire bowler [2194-11112].

• Aussie men’s, women’s teams should wear same baggy green [2194-11113].

• League calls in clubs’ unpaid debts [2194-11114].

Aussie players’ rights to be up for sale in India ?

Ben Horne.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2194-11111.

Australian players’ association general manager Tim Cruickshank will fly to India soon in a bid to sell the rights to the Australian cricket team.  In what shapes as an enormous strategic play in the escalating pay war and a potentially devastating blow to Cricket Australia’s (CA) major corporate partners, a frustrated playing group has determined they have been left with no choice but to start acting on serious offers from Indian media giants to buy their intellectual property (PTG 2181-11056, 29 June 2017).

Selling the collective image rights for globally known players such as Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell under the guise of ‘the Australian cricket team’ could net the playing group up to $A10 million (£UK5.9 m) according to experts, money which they then plan to share with their unemployed domestic male and female colleagues to fund them through a protracted battle.

The sale of players’ intellectual property to cricket-mad India would spark an unmitigated crisis for CA’s major sponsors, who as of the end of June have lost all rights and protections promised to them regarding the Aussie team under the now extinct Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA).

An ACA email sent to all State and Big Bash League (BBL) teams and CA on Friday, spells out in no uncertain terms that the rights of out of contract players no longer belong to them but to the ACA’s ‘The Cricketers Brand’ (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017).  A CA spokesman dismissed 'The Cricketers Brand '(TCB) as “an [industrial relations] negotiating tactic” with the administrators confident the top players have too much to lose by selling their rights.

However, when contacted on Saturday, Cruickshank confirmed details of his plans and emphasised the ACA meant business. The former NSW cricketer described the hunt for Indian suitors as “regrettable” and “sad” but entirely necessary, due to the ACA’s adamant belief that CA is trying to “starve” them out by purposefully dragging out negotiations.

“The majority of the players are free agents and we’ll be able to honour anything we do sign over there”, said Cruickshank, who will depart late this week or early next week.  “It’s very regrettable and disappointing, and not for one second a position we wanted to be in but we’re in this position now and this is the reality we’re faced with. There’s been some exciting opportunities present themselves so we’ve got to try and capitalise on this at this time of uncertainty”.  

"The majority of players are unemployed, the ACA now has no funding and the players have been told they’re not going to be back paid.  The support fund is at the moment one of our main priorities (PTG 2139-10840, 19 May 2017).  There are some specific companies we’re talking to and organisations, obviously media outlets and some of the governing bodies. I won’t go into detail as to who … but we’re meeting with the right people let’s put it that way”.

As it stands there is nothing stopping McDonald’s India going through the TCB and buying intellectual property rights and therefore ambushing CA sponsor KFC. Under that disastrous hypothetical — any company — including existing CA partners — would be forced to buy their access off an offshore rights holder. Under the now defunct MoU, only CA’s valued corporate partners had access to ‘the Australian cricket team’ — classified as three or more players appearing in promotional material at once”.  However, now all bets are off and the entire Australian cricket team — to the tune of 230 uncontracted players — is up for sale.  CA head of performance Pat Howard has already warned cricketers via email that entering into deals could hurt them long term (PTG 2182-11066, 29 June 2017).

Cruickshank admits though that the TCB faces a balancing act.  “I believe to a certain extent the current commercial framework [for the MoU] needs to remain in place which is why we’re working closely with a number of CA partners and we’re communicating with them and encouraging them to speak to us and to work with us”, he said.

However, the bottom line is CA’s sponsors — described as “the meat in the sandwich” have been left badly exposed by the collapsed agreement and currently aren’t getting what they paid for — opening up the possibility for agreements to fall through.  In the email to state and BBL clubs, Cruickshank spelt out the state of play: “… No ‘out of contract’ player: Can be required to do appearances, can have their attributes used by your sponsors; and can have their attributes used by CA, state associations and or W/BBL teams”.

Return shot fells Nottinghamshire bowler.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2194-11112.

Nottinghamshire seam bowler Luke Fletcher was struck on the head by a return shot during a Twenty20 match against the Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston on Saturday.  What was Fletcher's first delivery of the game was driven ferociously straight back by batsman Sam Hain and struck him on the head in his follow-through.

Umpires Mike Burns and Jeff Evans signalled instantly for medical assistance, and it was clear from the players’s reaction \ they thought the incident was potentially very serious. The injury saw play suspended for half-an-hour while he received treatment on the ground.  The bowler did not appear to lose consciousness and he was later able to walk from the field aided by a physio with a towel over his head. After being attended to by paramedics in the dressing-room he was subsequently taken to a Nottingham hospital by ambulance for further examination. 

Notts head coach Peter Moores said: "Luke has obviously got concussion but the reports we're hearing back are that they think he's going to be fine and hopefully he will go home either tonight or tomorrow morning. It sounds good news at the moment and we're looking forward to catching up with him when he's back and hopefully OK”.  

“[The Bears] were very understanding and, more importantly, efficient. They had a doctor on site straight away and the paramedics on site. Credit too to James Pipe, our physio, he is meticulous in all trauma-related stuff as is Warwickshire's physio, the pair working together straight away.  It's nice to see that at any sporting venue, that everything is in place should something like that happen”.

UK media reports say the increased threat to bowlers and umpires in the modern Twenty20 game has led to some umpires considering protective headgear to guard against injury.  England and Wales Cricket Board umpires are reported to have looked at such issues in the past, however, to what extent that have addressed the issue in practice on the field appears limited with no helmets or shields of any kind being reported to date.

Fletcher’s head strike is reminiscent of that suffered by South Australian Joe Mennie who was admitted to hospital in January with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain following an accident in a net session in Brisbane (PTG 2031-10281, 26 January 2017).  Mennie was struck in the head by a straight drive from batsman Michael Lumb, his injury following head strikes suffered that month by batsman Matt Renshaw in a Australia-Pakistan Test in Sydney (PTG 2022-10227, 7 January 2017), and wicketkeeper Peter Nevill during a Big Bash League fixture (PTG 2026-10255, 18 January 2017).

Aussie men’s, women’s teams should wear same baggy green.

Fiona Bollen.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Saturday, 8 July 2017.

PTG 2194-11113.

Australian womens’ player Alex Blackwell has called on Cricket Australia (CA) to "go all the way in their quest for gender equality" and have the same baggy green cap for women Test players as they do for men.  CA announced a month ago that it would abandon the 'Southern Stars' naming convention that had been used for the team until now, with it only to be used colloquially, and that teams would instead be referred to as the men’s and women’s cricket team (PTG 2156-10935, 7 June 2017).

When announcing the change, CA chairman David Peever said that “Cricket Australia is looking at all the ways in which it operates to ensure we can meet the ambition of being a sport for all”.  Blackwell, who has played 11 Tests, 137 One Day Internationals Is and 95 Twenty20 Internationals, believes there is one more step to go.  “Our baggy green is different to the men’s baggy green. We have a gold ribbon under our coat of arms, which is surrounded by a red stitching. The men’s baggy green is a red ribbon under the coat of arms surrounded by gold stitching”, she said.

“There was reasoning as to why they wanted to do that back in the day and that they did do that. But if you’re going to make the level of distinction that you’re going to treat our teams the same, then if you’re wearing a baggy green for Australia, it should be the same baggy green, no matter what your gender is.  “I’ve not made that recommendation to the board, but I would:, she said.

League calls in clubs’ unpaid debts.

Kevin Richardson

Oldham Evening Chronicle.

Friday, 7 July 2017.

PTG 2194-11114.

Pennine Cricket League (PCL) clubs owe thousands of pounds in unpaid fines and a myriad of outstanding fees and have been given until the end of July to make good their debts or they will face further monetary sanctions and won't be allowed to join another league.   Figures released at the PCL’s latest monthly meeting revealed that up to the end of June was £UK5,516 ($A9.360), one club owing more than £UK600 ($A1,020) and another over £UK800 ($A1,355), some of which dates back to the 2016 season.  Fines for missing captains' reports continue to mount up, with the amount standing at £UK420 ($A710).  

PCL chairman Nigel Tench warned players of their responsibilities after the meeting heard four players had been suspended for abusing umpires, those bans being for two or three weeks.  He reminded delegates that from October yellow and red cards would be available to umpires to punish players for misdemeanours and asked clubs to make sure the England and Wales Cricket Board’s code of conduct which covers players' behaviour is pinned on dressing room walls.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,195

Sunday, 9 July 2017

(Second edition)

 

• High profile player signs with rival CA car sponsor as pay war revs up [2195-11115].

• Concern as ICC stick to hard line on player behaviour for Rabada [2195-11116].

• State cricket at risk if revenue sharing scrapped: Aussie skipper [2195-11117].

• CA trying to starve us out, claim players [2195-11118].

High profile player signs with rival CA car sponsor as pay war revs up.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2195-11115.

Australian bowler Mitchell Starc has become the first player to take the provocative step of aligning with a rival to one of Cricket Australia's (CA) protected sponsors as the sport's industrial war rages on.  The towering quick, arguably the best fast bowler in the world, is one of Australian cricket's most marketable commodities and more than a week after 230 players fell out of contract he has been among those in hot demand.

Starc has signed a sponsorship deal with an ‘Audi' dealership that may lead to consternation at CA, which has included another car company ‘Toyota' among its so-called protected sponsors for the 2017-18 season.  Players were cautioned by CA team performance boss Pat Howard just prior to becoming free agents on 1 July that they jeopardised a future contract with CA if they signed "unapproved endorsements" before a new Memorandum of Understanding between the governing body and the Australian Cricketers' Association was agreed (PTG 2182-11066, 29 June 2017).

Sources say ‘Toyota' had taken up an option for a new partnership with CA after its contract expired on 30 June. It was unclear, however, whether that deal had been renewed after the paceman signed with ‘Audi' last week, in which case Starc could potentially argue it was a pre-existing sponsorship.  Arrangements with individual dealerships, with a car generally exchanged for promotion, are not unheard of but in ordinary circumstances when players are in contract they have to be agreed to by CA and technically should be unpublicised.  

Starc, who has been in England watching wife Alyssa Healy play in the Women's World Cup, posted a photo of the ‘Audi' dealership on social media on the weekend, saying: "Count down is on! Bring on delivery day".   Melinda Spencer, general manager of marketing at Autosports Group, confirmed the one-year partnership with Starc.  "He's working with us for Audi Centre Parramatta” in Sydney’s western suburbs, she said. "There will be some appearances. We're thrilled to have him on board”.

In an email to state high-performance managers that was forwarded on to players last month Howard warned against signing with rivals to CA sponsors.  "All players will be provided with a list of protected sponsors for 2017-18”, Howard wrote. "Any player entering into unapproved endorsements during any uncontracted period puts at risk future endorsement arrangements with CA, State and W/BBL partners and puts you at risk of not being able to enter into a contract for the upcoming season with CA, the State or W/BBL Team”.

While players have already abandoned the Australia A tour of South Africa and could well sit out next month's Test series in Bangladesh, the most damaging battleground of the crisis for CA immediately is around players' intellectual property rights as their commercial and broadcast partners become increasingly more anxious.  The ACA has asked CA commercial partners to remove players' images from their websites but also invited them to engage with the new business the union has established to form partnerships with players, 'The Cricketers’ Brand'.

Among those is the Commonwealth Bank, which currently has access to the intellectual property of the women's national team because they are on interim CA contracts until the end of the World Cup. However, as it stands the bank would be unable to recognise and commemorate a potential winning Australian campaign and leverage the team's success. The only player in the squad the Commonwealth would have access to is Ellyse Perry, who is an ambassador for the bank.

The out-of-contract players have also been the subject of commercial interest from India, and Tim Cruickshank, who is heading The Cricketers' Brand, plans to travel to the subcontinent in coming week (PTG 2194-11111, 9 July 2017).

While the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) deadline of 30 June passed without a deal players stand to be officially left out of pocket on Saturday, when their next monthly pay is due.  The ultimate danger is that the Ashes could be affected. England have reportedly decided they will only tour if a new MoU is in place because of concerns their preparation for the Test series could be affected (PTG 2193-11110, 8 July 2017).

Concern as ICC stick to hard line on player behaviour for Rabada.

Simon Wilde.

The Sunday Times.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2195-11116.

South African bowler Kagiso Rabada’s suspension for one Test, in addition to a fine of 15 per cent  of his match fee, has been criticised by a number of former Test players.   Rabada was heard swearing, apparently at England batsman Ben Stokes, via the stump microphone feed during the first Test at Lord’s on Thursday, the one demerit point he ‘earned’ for that offence taking him over the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) four-point threshold and thus a suspension (PTG 2193-11108, 8 July 2017). 

Former South Africa’s Graeme Smith described Rabada’s suspension “ridiculous”, adding: “No one wrote about it, no one spoke about it. It was only because it was on the stump microphone that it’s become a thing ... I don’t think it was aimed at Ben Stokes. It was out of frustration. It could have been handled better”.  

South African-born former England skipper Kevin Pietersen said on social media: “A dying global Test game and the ICC suspend a player for a naughty word! Rabada is a star! More stars out of the game damages the game!”  Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, also spoke out on social media, saying: “Rabada suspended for one match for a couple of words. Give me a break.  What about the continuous slow over rates, ICC?”

England fast bowler James Anderson expressed sympathy for Rabada.  "I like to see bowlers playing with aggression and passion, which he obviously does. The scrutiny we’re under now with stump mics and spider-cam, you can’t get away with anything. There is a line that the ICC has drawn and you’ve got to stay the right side of it.  Stump mics enhance the game but it’s the players’ duty to be aware it’s there. Being aggressive and getting in the face of the opposition has helped me in the past but now it’s difficult to do and I try and avoid it”.

Stokes himself currently has two de-merit points on his record for verbal altercations in Test matches in Bangladesh and India late last year, which will stay on his record until October 2018 (PTG 1988-10026, 27 November 2016 and 1963-9884, 31 October 2016). If he picks up two more he would also be suspended.

Despite the criticism the ICC is intent on eradicating bad behaviour and its Cricket Committee is considering just how to apply a recent decision by Marylebone Cricket Club to introduce red and yellow cards for indiscipline into the game’s Laws. It is thought to be preparing to use red cards for players committing Level Four offences such as threatening an umpire or committing acts of violence, however, the ’sin bin’ part of the new Laws appears unlikely to be introduced (PTG 2176-11030, 24 June 2017).

State cricket at risk if revenue sharing scrapped: Aussie skipper.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2195-11117.

Australian captain Steve Smith has warned Cricket Australia (CA) the health of the country's domestic cricket is at risk if the revenue share model is abandoned.  In his strongest statement on the bitter pay dispute that has left Australian cricket in turmoil, Smith claimed he would not be the player he is today if the domestic game was not strong.

Smith has been criticised recently for not taking a stronger stand against CA but took to social media on Sunday morning in support for the more than 200 players out of contract.   Former Australian batsman Ed Cowan said a week ago that CA’s suggestion that the average annual wage a domestic player will earn  a year by 2020-21 will be $A235,000 (£UK139,105) is misleading and that 70 per cent of the NSW state squad would be paid "within 20 grand of the base contract", a figure that currently stands at $A87,000 (£UK139,105)  (PTG 2189-11093, 4 July 2017).

Under CA's offer, state players will need to play in the Big Bash League (BBL) in order to increase their pay. However, may players believe the increased emphasis on the BBL will be at the detriment of the Test side.  Smith, one of several of Australia’s top players who has knocked back lucrative individual offers from CA, said the revenue share model was needed to look after domestic players.

"I'll say what we as players have been saying for some time now: we are not giving up the revenue sharing model for all players”, Smith wrote on Instagram.  "But, through the [Australian Cricketers’ Association] we are willing to make important changes to modernise the existing model for the good of the game.   We are and have always been willing to make those changes. Changes for how the model can be adapted for the even greater benefit of grassroots cricket, which is after all where we all started.  We are determined to keep revenue sharing for all because we must take care of domestic players in Australia.  As leaders that's what David [Warner], Meg [Lanning], Alex [Blackwell] and I have been fighting for: a fair share for state players who are also partners in cricket."

Smith, one of the best players in the world, said having a healthy state system had been pivotal in him returning to the national team.  "I know from my career that when I was dropped [from the national side] in 2011 if I didn't have a strong domestic competition to go back to, I certainly wouldn't be in the position that I'm in today.  State players need to be taken care of financially so the domestic competition will always be strong, which in turn keeps us strong at the International level”.

"Also as women's cricket gets bigger and bigger in Australia women players must also be able to share in what they will be earning.  They must have the same chances and incentives to grow the game as the men have had since revenue sharing started.  And I know I speak for all of the men that we want women cricketers in the one deal with the men as well.  It's time to get a deal done. It should be and can be an exciting time for the game”.

CA trying to starve us out, claim players.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Saturday, 8 July 2017.

PTG 2195-11118.

Australian players believe Cricket Australia (CA) is stalling negotiations to starve them out in the pay ­dispute and have again called for CA chief executive James Sutherland to enter negotiations and break the impasse (PTG 2192-11105, 7 July 2017).  The Australian Cricketers ­Association (ACA) executive met on Friday as the cricket crisis dragged into its seventh day of players being out of contract.

CA chief executive Sutherland has stayed at arm’s length from the stalled talks, leaving the job to executive general manager Kevin Roberts. CA claimed this week that progress was being made.  The ACA is frustrated by Roberts and players are angry that CA has twice refused calls for mediation when little to no progress has been made behind the scenes despite meetings between the sides.

Almost all of Australia’s ­professional cricketers, apart from the women playing in the World Cup on a tournament-­specific contract and some ­domestic ­players on multi-year contracts, have been unemployed since last ­Saturday.  The dispute is attracting widespread attention with former ­English captain Michael Vaughan backing Australian captain and vice-captain, Steve Smith and David Warner, for their stance on the issue.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) also weighed in with its support via Twitter under a meme of the players and a headline announcing they would ­boycott the Australia A team’s tour of South Africa. “Sending solidarity to Australian cricketers. You’re stronger ­together. Collective action works”, the tweet read.  The industrial dispute had all the hallmarks of old-time bosses versus workers with former ACTU secretary Greg Combet advising the ACA and former Rio Tinto boss David Peever the chairman of CA.

England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison attempted to settle concerns that the dispute might affect the Ashes series. “It’s a difficult moment for sure, but one we expect to be ­resolved well in time for the Ashes series”, he said. “I wouldn’t recommend fans hold back in booking their ­tickets” (PTG 2193-11109, 8 July 2017).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,196

Monday, 10 July 2017

 

• Deteriorating player behaviour a concern in Northern ireland [2196-11119].

• Captain calls for time run-penalty consistency [2196-11120].

• CPL-linked training again on offer to US umpires [2196-11121].

• A Kiwi takes the field in Chennai [2196-11122].

• ‘600 more female-friendly change rooms' needed in Oz: report [2196-11123].

• Player strike not slowing down cricket staff recruitment [2196-11124].

• Why does CA think first-class players are overpaid? [2196-11125].

Deteriorating player behaviour a concern in Northern ireland.

Belfast News Letter.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2196-11119.

The board of management of Northern Ireland’s Northern Cricket Union (NCU) has expressed concern about the “falling standards” of player behaviour being experienced this northern summer.  Half-way through the current season “the number of occasions on which umpires have reported players is already in excess of the figure for the whole of the 2016 season”, says the NCU.  Behavioural issues both “on and off the field” are mentioned with “reports of incidents involving club officials and spectators” and "social media being used to make inappropriate comments about opposing clubs, players and umpires”.

A NCU statement promised “firm action” against “those whose conduct falls short both on and off the field of play”. However, while the approach planned is more than appropriate it is rather undermined by the fact the crackdown is being launched on the back of its two vastly differing approaches to two recent incidents.

The subject of much discussion across the NCU has been an altercation involving involving "club officials and spectators” that took place at the conclusion of a Twenty20 Cup match between Civil Service North and Instonians. The two umpires officiating that day recommended that no disciplinary action be taken against any of the parties allegedly involved. Instead, “mediation" was recommended between the two clubs, there being bad blood between them over the pre-season transfer of a player. 

That approach comes in contrast to the punishment issued to two Waringstown players who became involved in an altercation with each other on the field last month. Year-long bans have now been handed to both players, both with previously exemplary records, who were both very apologetic about what they had done within a matter of seconds of the incident. 

Cricket writer David Holmes says he has detected a general “football type behaviour” on the field this season.  “I get a sense that some people kind of think that certain things are almost becoming acceptable within the game”, he said. “I go back to when I was playing, and there was a bit of banter, whatever, but it’s getting to the stage where there is a constant racket in some games, there is no sort of silence anymore.  There should be no room for 'effing and blinding”, whether that’s directed at players, umpires or spectators”.

Holmes does not blame umpires, but says the onus is on the two officials to clamp down on poor behaviour and adopt a consistent approach to ill-discipline.  ”I believe the umpires are the arbitrators of the game, the minute they set foot on the pitch, and arguably even before that, the moment they go out to do the toss.  If you read the Laws of Cricket, the umpires take control of the ground from the ground staff, so it’s their ground. They are in charge".

He says umpires may be put off reporting offences because they have to attend disciplinary hearings themselves as opposed to submitting a testimony in writing.  “Some of the comments I have heard [from clubs] is that there is one rule for them and one rule for us. It is perceived that some clubs get away with it and others don’t. I’m not saying it’s a fact but it is a perception”, he added.

Captain calls for time run-penalty consistency.

Mark Baldwin.

The Times.

Monday, 10 July 2017.

PTG 2196-11120.

Jade Dernbach, Surrey’s caretaker Twenty20 captain, has criticised the consistency of the competition’s regulations on the award of penalty runs after a dramatic 12-run sanction at The Oval on Sunday almost cost his side the match against Somerset.  “There needs to be a consistent level of time-keeping”, said Dernbach who, also questioned whether run penalties for going overtime should actually be part of a format which so often produces riveting finishes with players being put under many other pressures.

Surrey were penalised two overs by umpires David Millns and Paul Baldwin for failing to bowl the last two overs in time in Somerset’s reply to their 7/181 score.  The 12-run penalty was nearly enough for Somerset to get up for a win, those runs taking their score to 9/177 at the end of their 20 overs.

Dernbach said after the game that: “Against Essex at Chelmsford last Friday evening the clock was stopped several times and there was a big screen on the ground which showed exactly where we were at all times. Here [at The Oval], the first I really knew about it was when the penalty was given. I was pretty much in the dark. Effectively, too, with no time being allowed for all the wickets falling, we were being penalised for taking too many of their wickets too early! The Oval is a big ground and it takes longer for batsmen to walk out here than many other venues”.  

The captain does not seem to be aware that under the competition’s rules, new batsman have only 60 seconds to reach the crease.

CPL-linked training again on offer to US umpires.

PTG Editor.

Media report.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2196-11121.

Umpires in the United States are being invited to apply to attend workshops that are to be held in Fort Lauderdale in Florida early next month at a time when Caribbean Premier League (CPL) matches are being played there.  Reports say that the International Cricket Council’s Americas region, in conjunction with the CPL and "Cricket Australia" (CA), are to run the workshops, apparently in a similar fashion to that which applied last year when 20 umpires took part (PTG 1857-9311, 20 June 2016).

The workshops will aim to "provide education and training for umpires in a number of theoretical and practical situations covering matters that include "group culture, player behavior and match management” .  It will "take participants through a number of interactive workshops and presentations designed to improve the knowledge and aptitude of officials across the USA”.  Applications to attend the workshops close next Friday.  Each participant is responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs.

The reported participation of CA suggests an Australian umpire will again be standing in the CPL, or that an umpire educator from ‘down under’ will be in attendance, but as yet no announcement has been made to that effect.  CA National Umpire Panel (NUP) member John Ward stood in the CPL in 2015, his NUP colleague Mick Martell also taking part 2015.

A Kiwi takes the field in Chennai.

S. Dipak Raga.

The Hindu.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2196-11122.

New Zealand’s Northern Districts association have assisted umpire Lachlan Rutherford with funding that has allowed him to travel to India and stand in Tami Nadu Cricket Association Premier League matches in Chennai to gain experience.  Rutherford, 24, whose father Ian Rutherford played first class cricket for Otago, Central Districts and Worcestershire for close to 10 years and is the nephew of former New Zealand captain Ken Rutherford, took up umpiring after injuring both his shoulders.   Rutherford said he has always loved cricket and like his family wanted to have a career in the game, and hopes to now do so via umpiring.

‘600 more female-friendly change rooms' needed in Oz: report.

PTG Editor.

Media report.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2196-11123.

Cricket Australia (CA) is setting an "ambitious goal" of ­creating 600 more female-friendly change rooms around the country by 2022 at an ­estimated cost of $A1 billion (£UK589 m), an average of $A167,000 per change room (£UK98,425), claims an article published in ‘The Australian’ newspaper on Saturday.  Journalist Nick Tabakoff, who says he has “obtained" CA’s nationwide audit of cricket facilities, goes on to state the national body estimates the "broader problem of building new change rooms, and installing adequate cricket pitches and practice nets, could cost $A10 billion (£UK5.9 bn)”, although over what time-frame is not stated.

CA chief executive James Sutherland said six weeks ago that details of the facilities audit, which he called "the most ambitious audit of sporting facilities in Australian history”, would be shared "with the public and governments of all levels soon” (PTG 2149-10904, 28 May 2017).  He is also on record as saying that “on the facilities side, we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars” to fix the problems involved (PTG 2146-10893, 26 May 2017). While Tabakoff has apparently been given access to the audit, it is yet to see the light of day in its entirety, a move that would allow an overall assessment of its contents to be made.

According to Tabakoff, the nationwide audit involved "5,500 cricket facilities and 7,100 ovals“ and it "shows that of the 3,000 changerooms at these grounds across the country, 80 per cent, or 2,400, are not ­female-friendly, [as opposed to the] 600 [that] are”.  "In fact more than 2,000 cricket sites have no changerooms at all”, writes Tabakoff. He says: "On the face of things, while CA will fund a significant part of the updates, much of this money will have to come from elsewhere, with the governing body partnering with federal, state and local governments”.

In May, Sutherland talked of 5,584 "cricket facilities”, a “facility" being defined as "including ovals in the local park or school, nets and changing rooms”, and that they have between them a total of 7,750 ovals, numbers that are slightly higher than those mentioned by Tabakoff. 

His article in ‘The Australian relates the concerns of the mother of an Under-13 female player in the western suburbs of Sydney over the lack of female-friendly changerooms.  Alexia O’Sullivan, who is also the team manager of her daughter’s side, says: “When the changerooms were built, they were built with boys in mind. That means not all the toilets or showers have a closed door, and there are urinals. With the changes already happening in their bodies, girls of my daughter’s age need privacy more than most. But most of the changerooms we encounter are either locked or not gender-­neutral”. Instead, the young cricketers are often forced to use public ­toilets “that are old, dirty and disgusting”, she says.

O’Sullivan believes the situation, if left unrectified, could discourage female participation: “It’s an important issue because young girls, especially, will tend to be put off and may not want to progress further with the sport. They may instead choose to go to a primarily girls sport, like netball or softball”, she says.

Tabakoff  goes on to mention CA’s National Community Facilities Funding Scheme.  He repeats CA’s advice of a week ago that it has so far invested $A4.5 million (£UK2.7 m) in 410 projects worth $41.6m (£UK24.5 m) through the scheme over there past three years, saying “the remaining amount to fund the projects has come largely from local, state and territory governments”.  While three examples of such projects have been publicised by CA, no consolidated list of the remaining 407, and the $A3.755 m (£UK2.2 m) CA suggests it allocated to them, has yet been released.

Player strike not slowing down cricket staff recruitment.  

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2196-11124.

Cricket Australia (CA) may be busy recruiting people for a range of eight positions at its Melbourne headquarters (PTG 2192-11107, 7 July 2017), but it is not alone as state associations in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria are also in on the act with seven spots currently on offer between them.  

Five of those are permanent full-time jobs, one in Victoria and two each in South Australia and Tasmania.  Cricket Victoria wants a 'Marketing Manager’ and South Australia a 'Country Cricket Coordinator' for its south-east and mallee regions, and an 'Executive Assistant' to the South Australian Cricket Association’s chief executive.  In Tasmania the 'Match Officials Manager' position is open (PTG 2166-10988, 16 June 2017), as is that for a 'Sponsorship Coordinator'.

Cricket Tasmania also needs a 'Digital and Marketing Manager', a position that is available on a 14 month contract, while Cricket NSW’s Game and Market Development area needs 'Conference Administrators’, how many is not clear, who will be employed on “differing contracts” to “maximise cricket participation in schools, clubs and communities, through engaging entry-level cricket programs”.

Why does CA think first-class players are overpaid?

Ian Chappell.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 9 July 2017.

PTG 2196-11125.

It appears that the two main objectives of Cricket Australia (CA) in its increasingly acrimonious dispute with the players are to reduce the amount of money being paid to first-class cricketers and to split their association.  If that's not the objective then why offer more money to the elite players and at the same time try to do away with the revenue-sharing clause in the recently expired Memorandum on Understanding (MoU)?

Firstly, let's address the issue of the amount of money paid to first-class players. CA says it wants to reduce this to overcome the shortfall in funds available to the grass-roots level of the game. Their main concern is to stop good young athletes choosing other sports, attracted by the greater odds of getting a contract and the higher remuneration available.

CA's case doesn't stand close scrutiny here. If other sports are more attractive to good young athletes then why would CA reduce the money available to Australia's first-class cricketers? Surely the lure of a lucrative wage is one way of stemming the flow of good athletes to other sports. Decent-sized rookie contracts in particular, and worthwhile money for first-class cricketers in general, are a way of influencing young athletes in favour of a career in cricket. 

Then there's the matter of who devised the current system. It was the administrators of CA and the state associations. They introduced the academy system and appointed the numerous coaches who now proliferate in the game. It was the need to provide serious cricket opportunities for young players graduating from the academy and the coaches wanting greater access to the first-class players' time that took the game down the path of becoming fully professional. 

Now CA is complaining that first-class players are overpaid. There may well be cases where first-class players are overpaid. The same could be said of most businesses, CA included.  However, it's that same first-class system that produces players who go on to become elite internationals. It's the elite internationals who create the wide interest in the game that produces lucrative media rights deals, large crowd attendances and eager sponsors, not to mention inspiring youngsters to either become players or followers of the game.

In essence it's the elite players who are responsible for providing administration jobs and, in many cases, well-paid ones.  The business of Australian cricket should not be a boss-and-employee arrangement. It has to be a partnership where both sides have an interest in growing the game. And there has to be a certain amount of trust and respect on both sides for it to work successfully. Neither trust nor respect is visible at the moment.

Now that the June deadline for a new MoU has passed and the Australia A invitation to tour South Africa has been declined by the players (PTG 2192-11105, 7 July 2017), there are three further events that could cause a deal to be agreed.  Firstly, there's the Channel Nine sponsors lunch next week in Melbourne. Unlike the recent Sydney event (PTG 2191-11102, 6 July 2017), there will be CA officials in the room, and it could be rather uncomfortable for the attending administrators if a deal isn't imminent.

The next period of interest will be the One Day International tour to India in October. It's highly unlikely that CA will want to aggravate the Board of Control for Cricket in India by cancelling that tour, so look for a deal to be in place by then, or for the tour to be rescheduled.  Then there's the Ashes series starting in November. This is a highly lucrative tour that creates great interest among the public and usually causes a spike in the playing numbers at junior level. 

CA won't want to forfeit any of those lucrative Ashes opportunities. If CA doesn't have a deal in place before the commencement of the Ashes series, then Donald Trump's won't be the only leadership style I find mystifying.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,197

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

 

• Bowler hit by ball 'lucky' to escape serious injury [2197-11125].

• Mystery backers pour millions into ACA hardship fund [2197-11126].

• Major sponsor turns up the heat on CA to resolve pay war [2197-11127].

• 'Barmy Army' faces bankruptcy if Ashes cancelled [2197-11128].

Bowler hit by ball 'lucky' to escape serious injury.

BBC Radio.

Monday, 11 July 2017.

PTG 2197-11125.

Notts Outlaws bowler Luke Fletcher says he was "lucky" to escape serious injury after being hit on the head during a Twenty20 match on Saturday.  Fletcher was taken to hospital after being hit by a shot from Birmingham Bears' Sam Hain at Edgbaston (PTG 2194-11112, 9 July 2017).  "It is probably a good thing I did not lift my head up, it could've been a lot worse”, said the 28-year-old, who is now out of hospital.  "I got away with it and the doctors said I dodged a bullet”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live, Fletcher said: "It is frightening. I didn't realise how lucky I was until I watched it back.  I didn't see the ball at all and I just realised when it hit me and I thought, 'I could be in a bit of bother here’.  When I first went to the hospital the doctor said: 'There's a chance you could miss the rest of the season’.  I feel quite lucky that nothing worse has happened. I have not even had a headache yet, although I might get one a bit further down the line. I don't think I'll be able to play for a while though because of concussion protocol.  They said that if that had hit me in the temple or side of the head, anything could've happened”.

Fletcher said he has been contacted by Hain since the incident.  "He messaged me on Sunday”, said Fletcher. "Quite a few of the Warwickshire lads got in touch and he was one of them.  I told him that it can't really be helped. He said next time he is at Trent Bridge we will go to the pub and have a beer together”.

Fletcher said bowlers are "frightened" of being hit by the ball and at Notts they are able to "go off and bowl on our own" during practice sessions rather than in nets.  "There have been so many close calls, certainly in the 10 years I have been playing - balls are just coming back and you have not got time to move.  Some of the lads still have a bowl in the nets but it is frightening as balls are coming back at way over 100 mph.  I don't know what speed that ball came back at me from Sam Hain as I did not see it at all”.

Mystery backers pour millions into ACA hardship fund.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 11 July 2017.

PTG 2197-11126.

Australia's players have been boosted in their pay war with Cricket Australia (CA) by the injection of millions of dollars in "loans" from several wealthy backers that will ensure their hardship fund lasts until Christmas (PTG 2139-10840, 19 May 2017).  With players due to be out of pocket for the first time when their monthly pay does not land in bank accounts next Saturday, the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) will begin to dip into a pool of money set aside to support them.  It can be revealed that fund has been significantly enhanced in size by financial assistance from several backers that runs into the millions.

According to sources, the cash injections have come from several high net-worth individuals, some from the business world and with links to cricket and others who have a general love of the game, but who want to remain anonymous.  The identities of those who have come forward to supplement the ACA's funds to pay unemployed players are even not known by many at the players' union itself.

The millions in additional cash now at the ACA's disposal is a major development as it will enable them to finance the union's hardship fund until December if required. If the dispute drags on that long the Ashes, due to begin in Brisbane on 23 November, will be endangered.  It is believed the ACA intends to pay the mystery financial supporters back after a new deal is agreed.  However, that would depend on CA agreeing to provide back pay to players to cover their period of unemployment under the terms of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The governing body has declared it will not do that, with team performance boss Pat Howard informing players via email last month that "CA does not intend that retainers would be back paid to cover any elapsed period between your current contract expiring and the execution of a new contract when a new MoU is agreed” (PTG 2182-11066, 29 June 2017).

CA has also trumpeted its redirection of the $A1.2 million (£UK708,720) a fortnight it is saving on player wages to grassroots cricket (PTG 2185-11077, 1 july 201).  The organisation's position on back pay is another hugely contentious area of the deeply troubled negotiations that have already led to an Australia A tour of South Africa being abandoned.  The ACA is unlikely to agree to a new MoU unless players are back paid from 1 July.

State players and female cricketers stand to be hit hardest financially by the impasse but can make applications to the ACA's hardship fund for support. They are being treated similar to university loans rather than income replacements and the assistance they receive will be repayable if they are ultimately backpaid by CA.  Also part of the players' calculations is a $A58 million ($A34.2 m) adjustment leger payment due to be paid to them by CA on 15 October . 

It has been business as usual for the past 10 days even for players whose contracts expired on 30 June because they are yet to miss a monthly instalment of their salary. They have continued to train at their state bases but insiders say it will be a significant psychological blow for many if they go unpaid later this week.

While negotiating teams from CA and the ACA met in Melbourne on Monday, sources remained highly doubtful a deal could be struck in the coming days.  Agents for leading players, meanwhile, are preparing to follow the path taken by Mitchell Starc's management and seek commercial deals for their uncontracted clients even if the sponsorships clash with CA's nine protected sponsors (PTG 219711127 below and -2195-11115, 9 July 2017).

Major sponsor turns up the heat on CA to resolve pay war.

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017.

PTG 2197-11127.

Multi-million dollar Big Bash League (BBL) naming rights sponsors ‘KFC' have turned up the heat on Cricket Australia (CA) to immediately resolve the pay crisis railroading the game.  The fast food giant pours an estimated $3.5-4 million (£UK2.1-2.4 m) into the game each year as one of CA’s top three corporate partners and their concerned call for administrators on both sides of the fence to realise the ugly war is killing the sport reflects growing anxiety and frustration among cricket’s leading sponsors.

Leading corporate partners have been left badly exposed by cricket’s lapsed pay agreement, as CA no longer controls the players’ image rights and are therefore unable to provide the protection against ambush marketing that giants like ‘Qantas', 'Commonwealth Bank' and ‘Optus' have forked out millions for.  Of several of the sport’s corporate partners spoken to on Monday, some continued to play down the drama, while others were outright damning of CA’s complete loss of control, with more than 230 players out of contract and no longer available to them.

CA can ill afford the crisis scenario of having major sponsors ask for their money back or walk away from unfulfilled deals.  ‘KFC' have been partnered with CA since 2003 and as well as backing the high-profile BBL they’ve also been naming rights sponsors for the Australian Twenty20 side.  

The company stopped short of tipping their famous bucket on those in charge, but their pointed assessment that the ever-escalating situation has gone too far sends a clear enough message in itself.  A spokesperson said: “The dispute between [CA] and the [ACA] is unfortunate and one we hope will be resolved amicably as soon as possible for the benefit of the game”.

Bowler Mitchell Starc’s deal with ‘Audi' has left some sponsors feeling edgy, and it’s understood other leading stars are also set to announce similar car dealership arrangements in the near future (PTG 2195-11115, 9 July 2017). CA have indicated they aren’t concerned by Starc’s venture, given other leading players already have similar existing CA-approved arrangements with ‘Toyota' rivals.  ‘Toyota' issued a statement to say “we are confident [CA] and the [ACA] are working together to reach a mutual agreement, as soon as they possibly can”, sentiments also reflected by ‘Optus’.  The Commonwealth Bank declined to comment when approached.

Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) general manager Tim Cruickshank has been in regular contact with sponsors concerned about where they stand with no Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in place.  Cruickshank is set to fly to India later this week to discuss selling the collective image rights of the Australian cricket team to leading media companies in the subcontinent in a move aimed at supporting state male and female players out of pocket due to the dispute (PTG 2194-11111, 9 July 2017).

Cruickshank said the ACA is ready to help existing corporate partners who are worried about the lack of protection their multi-million deals are giving them and want access to players for promotional and advertising purposes.  “There’s no doubt sponsors are a bit anxious right now. This impasse creates a lot of uncertainty and having no MoU in place really exposes them”, he said.  “The commercial framework that was used during the expired MoU needs to remain in place to a certain extent; this is why we are communicating with current partners and offering our assistance wherever we can”.

One sponsor said CA risks eroding years and sometimes decades of trust they have built up with corporate partners by letting the drama drag for so long. Some are underwhelmed at the governing body’s assurances that the pay war wouldn’t damage their brands.

Former CA general manager of operations Mike McKenna described the importance of corporate partners to cricket at a ‘KFC' sponsorship announcement in 2014, saying: “the relationship between CA and our corporate partners provides the financial foundations that underpin the success of the game, from the grassroots to the elite levels of competition”.  That gives some idea of what CA is potentially jeopardising in their fight to change the revenue share model.  However, there is also a feeling from some around the game that players may only be biting the hand that feeds them by signing with rivals to CA sponsors — corporations that have effectively paid their handsome salaries for years and may continue to do so once a new deal is struck.

'Barmy Army' faces bankruptcy if Ashes cancelled.

Sue Williams.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 10 July 2017.

PTG 2197-11128.

 

One of the co-founders of England's 'Barmy Army' has pleaded for the two sides in Australia's cricket war to resolve their corrosive pay dispute amid fears that the famous supporters' group could be bankrupted if the Ashes Test series is cancelled.  "We could go bust if this isn't sorted out”, said Dave Peacock, for "There are 30,000-plus fans travelling to Australia this year, and they've already booked their flights, hotels, tickets and tours”.

A cancellation of the Ashes series could cost the Australian tourism industry an estimated $A400 million (£UK236 m) in revenue with tens of thousands of English and Australian fans having booked accommodation and ticket packages for cricket's most coveted contest.  "[The Ashes] is on the bucket list of so many sports fans who've shelled out between £UK15,000 and £UK20,000 ($A25,420-33,895) for the 51 days [of the series]”, said Peacock.  "It's a huge investment and now there's an element of concern over whether an agreement will be found."

The Barmy Army has evolved into a professional limited company while still dedicated to making cricket "more fun" with chants, songs and banners.  "We're already committed to paying for all of this, as well as things like Christmas dinner for 800 to 1000 at the Crown casino in Melbourne, all our merchandising and T-shirts, and plans for a massive New Year's Eve party in Sydney.  "From a logistical point of view, we would go bust if it didn't go ahead”.

Tourism Australia (TA) has been hugely successful in selling the 2017-18 Ashes tour, which starts in Brisbane and then moves on to Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and finally Sydney.  John O'Sullivan, TA’s managing director, said that the always hotly contested Ashes series was a guaranteed winner for the Australian tourism industry.  "No country supports their cricket team overseas more passionately than the English”, he said.  ”Tickets for the [coming] series are already selling faster in the UK than for the last Ashes series in Australia and we're expecting another huge turnout and lots of noise from the Barmy Army”.  The average UK holidaymaker spends around $A6,200 ((£UK3,660) when they come Down Under but sporting events such as the Ashes attract visitors who stay longer and disperse more widely, so the tourism impacts are much bigger”.

Peacock said that England fans were incredulous that the impasse between Cricket Australia (CA) and the players' union, the Australian Cricketers' Association, had not already been resolved.  "Why can't they get on and talk together and negotiate together and thrash out a deal so we can all get on and plan ahead?  In England, the PCA [Professional Cricketers' Association] meets with the board on a regular basis, so we can't believe that isn't happening in Australia and they're not having sensible dialogue to sort it out.  All this bad publicity is bad for fans, bad for sponsors, bad for the game. We've already got 1,100 people booked on our official tour, which is double the number from 2013, and then there's a huge number of independent fans. No one's winning from this”.

A CA submission to an inquiry into Australia's trade relationship with Britain in March last year said that the 2006-7 Ashes and One Day International series against England generated $A317 million ((£UK187 m) in direct expenditure in the Australian economy.  It contributed an additional $A54 million (£UK31.9 m) in GDP, produced increased regional direct spending of $A48 million (£UK28.3 m) and created an additional 793 jobs. The 37,000 international visitors spent an average of $A10,425 (£UK6,150) during their stay, over $A2,000 (£UK1,180) more than the typical holidaying Chinese visitor to Australia.

Charities would also suffer if the Ashes did not go ahead, Peacock said. This year, the Barmy Army planned to raise more than £50,000 ($A84,735) for the PCA Benevolent Fund during the Ashes, having raised the same amount four years ago for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. In 2010, it raised £UK25,000 ($A42,365) for the McGrath Foundation.  "From a charity perspective, it will also have a huge impact”, said Peacock.  "We don't really have a view on who's right and who's wrong as we're so far removed. It's not our problem. We just want them to find a solution and we do believe it will eventually all settle down and the Ashes will go ahead”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,198

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

 

• League warns players, officials, about ‘behaviour standards’ [2198-11129].

• Australian stands at Lord’s for the first time [2198-11130].

• CA board member calls for pay dispute compromise [2198-11131].

• Sponsors likely to drive a solution to pay dispute [2198-11132].

League warns players, officials, about ‘behaviour standards’.

Mark Dunford.

Mid Sussex Times.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017.

PTG 2198-11129.

The chairman of Sussex Cricket has issued a warning to all players because "behavioural standards" are “deteriorating” and asked umpires to ensure they report inappropriate behaviour.  In an email sent to all league clubs, chairman Bob Warren said it appears from written and visual reports that "so-called sledging seems to have gone from banter to vitriol with use of swear words much more prevalent” and standards have dropped in comparison to previous years.

Warren said the league has lost several umpires over the last two seasons because of the bad language and disrespect shown to umpires and opponents.  “This sort of behaviour goes completely against both the Laws of the game and the 'Spirit of Cricket'. Under the Laws of cricket it states quite clearly that the captain is responsible for the behaviour of his team”.

“I have asked umpires that if persistent bad language does occur in a match where they are officiating then they should advise the captain of the offending team that if it doesn’t stop then the captain, and possibly the club, will face disciplinary action.  This type of instruction should not be necessary for players must respect their opponents and our officials, if we fail to do this then our wonderful game will deteriorate further. This is a situation which none of us wants to see”, concluded Warren.

The Sussex League and the Sussex Association of Cricket Officials followed Warren’s message up with an email to all panel umpires, saying in part: "We have had a number of complaints from captains in the last few weeks of actions on the field of play, which, although they clearly involve the breaking of the League’s Disciplinary Code, have not been reported by umpires. If this is true it must not continue.  You are all asked to make sure you are conversant with the League’s Code of Conduct and that you make the appropriate reports as and when necessary so that all umpires are seen to be acting consistently”.

The warning follows an email sent out by the chairman of the West Sussex Invitation League (WSIL), who warned their players about ‘improper or unpleasant’ communications on social media.  That message makes reference to "several discussions" on ‘Twitter' that include negative references toward the league, how it is run and its administration, belittling or mocking the ability of other teams or players, baiting other players or teams using derogatory or foul language, responding to such baiting using derogatory or foul language, and personal attacks.

The WSIL message makes it clear further breaches will be dealt with without further warning and encourage reports to be submitted to it about such behaviour.  “You can take this email as a friendly warning”, says the message, but “there will not be a second warning. The executive committee has both the power and the responsibility to deal with any further instances of this kind as we see fit – be it monetary forfeit, points deductions, player suspensions or expulsion of clubs from the league.  We will not tolerate this in the WSIL, so if you are doing it – either from a club page or a personal account - Stop. Now!”.

Australian stands at Lord’s for the first time.

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017.

PTG 2198-11130.

Australian umpire Simon Fry stood at Lord’s for the first time on Tuesday in the match between a Marylebone Cricket Club XI and Afghanistan, the first time the latter side has played at the home of cricket.  Fry, 50, who is in England for the first two Tests of the England-South African series, officiated at Lord’s for the second time last week, however, both times was as a television umpire (PTG 2179-11043, 27 June 2017).

Fry would welcome not only the opportunity to stand at Lord’s, but also to get out on the ground ahead of the second England-South Africa Test at Trent Bridge which begins on Friday, in which he will be standing with countryman Paul Reiffel.  His last first class game was back in March, and with the Australian winter in full swing he flew to tropical Darwin in May to stand in matches there in the lead up to travelling to England for the current Test series.

Adelaide-born Fry made his first class debut in January 2002 and currently has 87 such games, plus 103 List A and 62 Twenty20 fixtures, to his credit.  Cricket Australia (CA) appointed him to its top National Umpires Panel in 2005, and sent him on exchange to New Zealand, South Africa and India over the following decade.  He was made a third umpire member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) in 2010 (PTG 618-3097, 8 June 2010), and elevated to an on-field spot two years later (PTG 1024-4975, 30 November 2012).

His senior international debut came in January 2011 in One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals.  Over the last six years the ICC has appointed him as a neutral umpire to matches in Canada, England, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and the West Indies, key events being the World Cup (WC) of 2015 and the Womens' World T20 Championship (WWT20C) series in 2016.  He was appointed to the first of his now five Tests in October 2015 (PTG 1658-8113, 7 October 2015).    

At home Fry has stood in seven of the last eight Sheffield Shield finals, and has been named CA's 'Umpire of the Year’ for each of the last four years (PTG 2092-10593, 1 April 2017). 

CA board member calls for pay dispute compromise.

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2198-11131.

Cricket Australia (CA) board member Mark Taylor has called for compromise on both sides of the pay war and says it should be cricket’s top priority to start repairing fractured relationships between players and administrators.  Taylor has been an advocate of CA’s hard-line approach at various stages throughout this saga, however, speaking at a Channel 9 launch in Melbourne, he admitted that the governing body must concede ground — as do the players — for the sake of stopping the bloodshed.  It’s the first sign yet that CA might consider scaling back their bid to significantly change the revenue share model.

The former Australian captain said it would be an unacceptable situation for the Test side to not tour Bangladesh next month and for that reason Taylor remains confident that no more cricket will be lost.  “I think there’s got to be compromise on both sides, I really believe that”, said Taylor.  I think at any negotiation you give and take. When you get to that situation, which I hope we are getting very close to now, then you get close to a resolution.  I’m confident there will be a resolution soon. I don’t know when but I just hope both sides keep working hard at it".

Talks are bubbling away behind the scenes ahead of another important deadline on Friday — the day when out of contract players were next due to be paid.  At this stage CA is refusing to back pay cricketers, one of the many reasons why trust and respect between players and administrators is at one of history’s all-time lows.  Many have theorised that CA is trying to break up the Australian Cricketers Association once and for all, but Taylor said it was imperative that the game starts working hard to heal the wounds that have opened up.

When a deal is done Pat Howard and James Sutherland will have to be able to work with Steve Smith and David Warner.  Taylor says it’s possible for those relationships to be regenerated.  “The quicker we can move on and rebuild the relationship I think is important between CA and the ACA. The quicker we can start rebuilding that I think that will be good for the game”, he said.  “I certainly hope (it’s not hard). You’ll have to ask the players that question but I think we all have to be adult about it”.

Sponsors likely to drive a solution to pay dispute.

Daniel Brettig .

Cricinfo

Monday, 11 July 2017.

PTG 2198-11132.

It is the concerns of its sponsors, rather than the monetary cut the players are seeking, that is likely to force an end to the on-going pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the players (PTG 2197-11127, 11 July 2017). This is illustrated by one of the more telling stories about how complex relationships between CA and its commercial partners can be. It relates to now Australian vice captain David Warner's attempt to punch Englishman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar in 2013, a story that is well-documented, but less so is the commercial chaos it caused behind the scenes. 

The very day an angry Sutherland spoke in Brisbane about Warner's transgression, and its attendant narratives of alcohol and late nights out, a promotion for then CA sponsor the Victoria Bitter beer brand was scheduled to take place on a barge in front of London's Tower Bridge. At a cost of about $A80,000 (£UK47,250), the event was also designed to help CA sell tickets for the home Ashes series that was to follow a few months later.

That gathering did not end up going ahead on its original date and, given the particular nature of the issue, would not have been a surprise had it been cancelled altogether. But it did take place about a week later - with Warner absent - CA's marketing and commercial arm having gone through hoops to ensure it went ahead.  How much Warner's hefty punishment was about brand protection is a question only CA chief executive James Sutherland can answer.   

Unlike the Tower Bridge event though, this time of course, the entire Australian team is currently unavailable to the game's sponsors are increasingly becoming very jumpy.  Take for example the booming Sydney-based financial services firm ‘Magellan' which has for many weeks now been on the cusp of signing on for the naming rights to the Australian Test team, but is yet to actually complete the paperwork (PTG 2183-11072, 30 June 2017).  One of the reasons for this seeming hold-up is quite simple, and directly related to the pay dispute. 

As a company that is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, ‘Magellan' must disclose all such activity to its shareholders and the market in general. By announcing the deal in the middle of the dispute, without any certainty about access to Australia's top players or when they will next be playing, ‘Magellan' stands to put itself at risk of stalling a share price that has jumped from $A2.15 (£UK1.25) at the end of the 2012 financial year to $A27.07 (£UK16) last Friday.

At least in the case of Magellan, it appears CA will be able to announce the new partnership whenever a new Memorandum of Understanding with the players is struck. However, there is less assurance around deals for the limited-overs team. As recently as last week it is believed that CA was still searching for companies to take up advertising space in the One Day Internationals and Twenty20 International formats, and finding it decidedly difficult to find takers at a time when the governing body's usually secure place as a home for advertisers, broadcasters and fans is being eroded.

All the while, existing sponsors have been left wondering what is next, and how valid their contracts can be in the current climate (PTG 2195-11115, 9 July 2017). Commercial partners were sent correspondence by CA one day before the MoU expired, in which they were told that they still had intellectual property (IP) rights access to players still contracted, and that it would also be possible to use IP for uncontracted players provided it was used to promote the game. 

The problem? Not one Australian player remains contracted. In other words, commercial partners were left high and dry, without the ability to use any Australian player IP. Which, in short, leaves a long queue for using the likes of Ashton Agar, Travis Head and Moises Henriques: none likely to be taking the field for the first Ashes Test at the Gabba in November. "I'm sure”, one industry figure said, "that's not what ‘Optus' signed up for”.

Not helping is the spectre - however remote - of that Gabba match and the four Ashes Tests that follow it being affected by the dispute. No single story has infuriated CA more than last Friday's revelation that England do not plan to fly down under for their women's and men's tours in the event of an extended dispute, on the basis that the players would not be afforded reasonable preparation if there were no professional cricketers to play warm-up matches against (PTG 2193-11109, 8 July 2017). 

Whether or not the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) message was motivated by the chance to lob a grenade into the opposing camp is a matter for conjecture, but what is not in doubt is CA's private anger that another cricket board would say anything to destabilise the expectations of fans planning to travel. The fallout from the ECB's admission was felt on Monday when the Barmy Army's co-founder Dave Peacock said that any such prospect could send the long-time fan group bankrupt (PTG 2197-11128, 11 July 2017).

In pushing the dispute beyond the expiry of the previous agreement without any sign of a resolution, CA have invited a commercial maelstrom that has created far greater uncertainty than that which existed at the start of MoU negotiations last November (PTG 1973-9939, 11 November 2016). The pressure on CA's leadership - the chairman David Peever, the chief executive Sutherland and the lead MoU negotiator Kevin Roberts - is now mounting from all sides.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,199

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

(Second edition)

 

• Former South African international given 8-year ban for match-fixing [2199-11133].

• ECB exploring introduction of injury substitutions [2199-11134].

• Windies fined for slow T20I over-rate [2199-11135]

• Coach sent to jail for sexual harassment of 15-year-old [2199-11136].

• Where has Aussie cricket’s $1.9 bn revenue gone? [2199-11137].

• Broadcaster puts hard word on CA for new rights deal [2199-11138].

Former South African international given 8-year ban for match-fixing.

Reuters.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2199-11133.

Former South African bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe has been banned from the game for eight years for his part in a Twenty20 match-fixing scandal in 2015. Tsotsobe, 33, who played in five Tests and 61 One Day internationals for his country from 2008-14, was charged in April with contriving to fix or improperly influence matches in Cricket South Africa's (CSA) domestic T20 series and seeking to accept, or agreeing to accept, a bribe (PTG 2113-10713, 26 April 2017).

Tsotsobe admitted one charge of contriving to fix a match and nine separate charges of failing to co-operate properly with various investigations.  “I was, at the time, in a very vulnerable financial state and this dilemma too easily persuaded me to participate in spot fixing”, he said in a statement.  “There are no words to describe the regret I have in relation to my actions and I hope that the cricket world could consider my apology and understand my deepest feeling of remorse”.

 

His suspension brings to seven the number of South African players banned from the game for their part in the 2015 scandal.  Gulam Bodi, Jean Symes, Pumi Matshikwe, Ethy Mbhalati, Thami Tsolekile and Alviro Petersen were previously banned for between two and 20 years for their part in the scandal, although CSA has long held that no matches were actually fixed (PTG 2113-10713, 26 April 2017).

ECB exploring introduction of injury substitutions.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2199-11134.

English cricket is exploring the introduction of injury substitutes for the first time and testing is also being carried out on skullcaps to protect bowlers and umpires from serious head injuries.  The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Cricket Committee (CC) will in September discuss allowing teams to substitute an injured player, such as one suffering from a concussion injury, that rules them out of the rest of the match, a move that has been recommended by the International Cricket Council in relation to concussion (PTG 2190-11096, 5 July 2017).

The idea follows on from Cricket Australia trialling the use of concussion substitutes last austral summer in state cricket (PTG 1936-9734, 2 October 2016). The ECB will monitor the success of that rule change before deciding on whether to copy the initiative in professional cricket in England.  It is an arcane aspect of cricket that if a player is seriously injured in a match, teams can only replace them with a fielding substitute and are left one short of a batsman or bowler.

Last Saturday, Nottinghamshire’s Luke Fletcher was hospitalised with a nasty head injury sustained when Warwickshire batsman Sam Hain smashed the ball straight back at him (PTG 2194-11112, 9 July 2017). In the future, Nottinghamshire could replace Fletcher with a substitute to make up for his loss. At the end of the season, the ECBCC will discuss the pros and cons of introducing substitutes such as the logistics of constantly having a spare player on standby and whether it would be unfair to limit them to concussions.

For the proposal to become law, it would require a change in the ECB’s playing regulations which would need to be rubber stamped by the full executive board.  “The [ECBCC] will consider the issue in September and look closely at the precise logistical considerations of introducing substitutes to cricket”, said an ECB spokesman.  “We will have a thorough discussion about how and if they can be implemented in the first-class game”.

David Leatherdale, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), sits on the CC and his union backs the move.  He said: “The PCA and players are supportive of concussion substitutes which are presently under review with the ECB and its health and safety committee with research taking place around present presented cases.  They have done and are doing some trials in Australia and those will be discussed further by the ECB after the 2017 season here”.

Fletcher was lucky not to have been more seriously hurt. The danger of players being hit by balls struck by powerful batsmen, particularly in Twenty20 cricket, has led the ECB to speak to other sports, particularly in America, about protective headgear. The ECB are at the early stages of their testing program at Loughborough University but are looking at a range of protective headgear made from smart polymers that can absorb blows and prevent serious injury.

So far, the focus has been on developing a lightweight head protector for umpires and coaches working in the nets but Fletcher’s injury shows the need to investigate similar headwear for bowlers.  “There are a number of different products we need to compare and contrast and we are at the early stages of that process”, said an ECB spokesman.  “There is no suggestion we will see this in the professional game just yet but in the long term, it is something we are taking very seriously. We have a duty of care to the players and we need to look into how they can be better protected”.

Fletcher told the BBC that he no longer bowls in the nets when Nottinghamshire batsmen are preparing for a Twenty20, match due to the risk of being hit by a ball fired straight back at him (PTG 2197-11125, 11 July 2017). Bowlers are more vulnerable than umpires simply because their follow-through takes them closer to the batsmen.

In August 2015, that year's ECB’s Full List of 25 first-class umpires were said to be examining protective gear, including for the head, heart and back of the neck, which could be worn in one-day and championship matches during the 2016 English season.  They were said then to be having meetings with Cardiff Metropolitan University, where non-foam material to cover the heart was being tested. Visors and a form of head protection less cumbersome than batting helmets were also being developed, said the report at that time (PTG 1631-7965, 30 August 2015).

Windies fined for slow T20I over-rate.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2199-11135.

The West Indies has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate during the one-off Twenty20 International (T20I) against India at Sabina Park, Jamaica, on Sunday.  Match referee David Boon imposed the fine after Carlos Brathwaite’s side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration, the players being fined 10 per cent of their match fees and Brathwaite as captain double that amount.  

Should the West Indies commit another minor over-rate breach in a T20I within 12 months of this offence with Brathwaite as captain, it will be deemed a second offence by him and he will face a suspension.  The charge on Sunday was levelled by on-field umpires Nigel Duguid and Leslie Reifer, third umpire Joe Wilson and fourth umpire Patrick Gustard.

Coach sent to jail for sexual harassment of 15-year-old.

Daily Star.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2199-11136.

A court in Bangladesh sentenced a cricket coach who had been accused of sexually harassing a 15-year-old female player to jail on Tuesday.  Abu Samad Mithu, 30, appeared before a court in Dinajpur to plea for bail, however, the appeal was rejected and he was sent straight into custody.  The victim's family had initially met with court officials to settle the issue through arbitration, but the court intervened. 

Where has Aussie cricket’s $1.9 bn revenue gone?

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2199-11137.

Australian cricket’s brutal pay stand off shows no signs of ending as players ask where the $A1.9 billion (£UK1.1 bn) in revenue attracted during the last contract period is being spent if grassroots cricket is missing out.  Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) representative Simon Katich hit out hard at the administrators on Tuesday saying they were accountable for spending and it is they who have let down the game at the park level.

Katich said: “The players bring in approximately 80 per cent of the revenue into the game and take a percentage out as their wage under the existing model.  How the rest of it is spent is up to Cricket Australia [CA].  If grassroots has been let down then they have let it down, not the players”.

CA sources say progress has been made in negotiations, but ACA sources reject that, saying that any offers of compromise they make are rejected.  People close to the negotiations have indicated that offers from players to isolate a fair share for grassroots cricket have been rebuffed by CA.  Both parties claim the other is playing a stalling game, with CA blaming ACA head Alistair Nicholson and the ACA pointing the finger at the administration’s executive manager Kevin Roberts.

Attempts to bring other parties into the dispute to broker a deal have failed. CA chief executive James Sutherland has refused all requests from players to become involved in the negotiations and CA has twice rejected the players’ calls to enter mediation (PTG 2149-10905, 28 May 2017).

From the start, CA has insisted it needs to find more money for grassroots cricket, claiming that only 12 per cent of revenue is directed to that part of the game.  At the same time the administrators’ costs have ballooned as CA staff levels rose from 157 to 287 over the past five years.  A study of CA’s annual reports reveals spending on the media and communications department alone has ballooned from $20.7 million in 2012-13 to $34.9 m in 2016  (£UK12.3-20.8 m). Wage costs have increased by $A20 m (£UK11.9 m) but they are tied to a percentage share of revenue earned.

The non-profit organisation now runs its own well-staffed online media department, which competes with traditional media outlets to cover the game it owns.  CA hired former Fairfax Media editor Andrew Holden last year as head of communications, then installed former Rio Tinto staffer Mark O’Neill into a new role as head of the communications department.  Chairman David Peever is a former head of the mining company and his industrial relations adviser Ken Bacon is from the same firm.

CA admits it will have to tighten its belt but has targeted players’ wages as the biggest area of savings if it is to divert the money it says is necessary to address problems in grassroots cricket (PTG 2159-10951, 9 June 2017).  It has already been revealed that executive salaries and director expenses ($A5.7 m - £UK3.4 m) were higher than the wages for all women cricketers in the last financial year.  Chief executive James Sutherland is estimated to earn $A2 m (£UK1.2 m) per annum but none of the organisation’s salaries are published, unlike the Australian Football League where the chief executive there earned $A1.74 m (£UK1.1 m) in the last financial year.

CA’s operational costs have more than doubled from $A25.9 m in 2012-13 to $A56.7 m in 2015-16 (£UK15.5-33.8 m) and administration costs have blown out from $A28.2 m to $A32.2 m (£UK16.8-19.2 m) in the same period.  A CA spokesman explained operational costs included player payments (25 per cent), coaching costs (9.1 per cent) and event staging (37 per cent).

Not all of the spending has been at head office, with the high-performance budget also doubling in the same period as the organisation addressed concerns in the 2011 Argus report about the performance of the international side (PTG 818-4005, 23 August 2011).  There is no doubt that the game is awash with money and that grassroots has missed out, but the reason why is hard to grasp.  “If there is a problem with the distribution of revenue in cricket, the problem is obviously created by [CA], whose spending continues to climb”, said Katich.  Six weeks ago Katich questioned CA’s reported $A33 m BBL loss (PTG 2153-10924, 31 May 2017).

“From what we can make out 30 cents in the dollars goes to players and grassroots. Where does the rest go? What is it spent on? Because there hasn’t been a lot of financial transparency. We want answers. I think a lot of people want answers.  If there’s been $A1.9 billion come into the game in the last five years as we have seen, then you can’t tell us there is not enough to fund grassroots. The money is there, it is just being spent on other things".

“The players are in furious agreement more needs to be spent on grassroots cricket and are happy to work with CA on finding ways to make this more a priority. But if CA’s costs in all other areas of their business aren’t monitored, then how can the players have any confidence the money for grassroots will be spent correctly?”, concluded Katich.

Broadcaster puts hard word on CA for new rights deal.

Nick Tabakoff.

The Australian.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2199-11138.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) main media partner, Nine Entertainment Co, will push hard to strike a rich new broadcasting deal for all forms of the game “as soon as possible”, in the face of plans by cricket’s governing body to delay the process until next year amid the on-going players’ dispute (PTG 2188-11090, 3 July 2017).  Speaking after the Melbourne launch of the Nine Network’s "summer of cricket” on Tuesday, network head of sport Tom Malone said: “We’ve made no secret of the fact that we’re keen to acquire the rights to all forms of cricket, and we’d like to do that as soon as possible” (PTG 2116-10738, 28 April 2017).

Malone indicated that his desire to seal a deal quickly would not be affected by the bitter rancour between CA and the Australian Cricketers Association in their ongoing pay dispute.  He believes a resolution in the dispute will be achieved sooner rather than later.  “We have every confidence that [CA] and the players will reach agreement soon, and we’re keen to progress our discussions around the next rights deal”, he said.

CA is making a total of about $A600 million (£UK358 m) from its current five-year rights deal — $A500 m (£UK298 m), or $A100 m a year (£UK59.7 m), from Nine’s international rights, and another $A100 m, or $A20 m a year (£UK11.9 m), from rival the Ten Network's Big Bash League (BBL) rights.  CA’s plans to delay the talks process, partly because of the players’ pay ­dispute, have come amid predictions it could net about $A200 m (£UK119 m) less in its next five-year deal than it had originally hoped for (PTG 2114-10721, 27 April 2017).

The game’s governing body is also concerned that the timing of the appointment of receivers to Ten Network in recent days, at a time of media reform gridlock, may affect its ability to achieve the maximum possible price for ­cricket on TV in the next few months (PTG 2179-11044, 27 June 2017).  Ten is the current holder of the much-coveted rights to the BBL, which were worth $A100 m (£UK59.7 m) in the previous five-year deal that expires after the coming austral summer, but are expected to fetch as much as $A250 m (£UK149 m) this time around.

Cricket insiders have privately indicated the deal need not happen “until early next year”, as CA tries to wait for as much competitive tension as possible between the three commercial networks and pay-TV.  Media sources say, however, that Nine wants to seal a deal by the end of 2017 at the latest.  Given the Nine network has a conventional 1 July to 30 June financial year, there are questions about whether it would be willing to wait until so late in the financial year, most ­likely February or March, to seal a deal as CA seems to want.  

There are also questions about whether Ten would be ready to make a viable bid for the rights, given it is currently in ­receivership.  It is understood a key consideration for Nine in going as early as possible is the amount of money it will have to put aside for a bid on “all forms of cricket”.  Rights experts have forecast the next rights deal for all forms of the game could fetch a total of about $A140 m (£UK83.5 m) a year, or $A700 m (£UK417.7 m) over the next five years, with $A90 m (£UK53.7 m) a year to come from the rights to international cricket and $A50 m (£UK29.8 m) a year from the BBL.  CA is reported to be hoping to attract a total of $A900 m (£UK537 m).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,200

Thursday, 13 July 2017

 

• Club scorer lines up for his 2,000th consecutive game [2200-11139].

• Player reps sabotaging the game, says CA chairman [2200-11140].

• Court told BCCI old guard’ stalling reforms [2200-11141].

• Notts bowler ruled out for season after head strike [2200-11142].

• Stadium staff stripped of trousers before being paid [2200-11143].

• CA, ACA chief executives in marathon meeting [2200-11144].

Club scorer lines up for his 2,000th consecutive game.

Middlesex Association of Cricket Officials.

Thursday, 13 July 2017.

PTG 2200-11139.

Ivor Chaplin will score his 2,000th consecutive game for Brentham Cricket Club (BCC) when its first XI plays a Middlesex County Cricket League (MCCL) match against Winchmore Hill on Saturday.  After a three-year apprenticeship in the second-team, Chaplin made his first-team scoring debut in 1967 therefore in addition to match 2,000 he also celebrates this season a half-century with the first team as well.  Since the formation of the MCCL in 1972 he has scored all 758 first XI league matches played to date.

In 2014, Chaplin completed 700 consecutive League matches at which point the score box at the BCC’s ground was named after him at a ceremony attended by former Brentham member and England captain Michael Brearley. Brearley compared Ivor’s scoring feat with the leading wicket takers in International Cricket. Only Muttiah Muralitharan’s tally of 807 wickets now stands ahead in front of Ivor but the gap is closing fast with Chaplin set to reach 765 MCCL games by the end of the current season, just 42 shy of Muralitharan’s record.

 

2,000 match man Ivor Chaplin with the Brentham Cricket Club score box that has been named for him.

 

Chaplin’s contribution to the game over the years has been recognised by a number of awards. He is an Honorary Vice President of both the MCCL and BCC. He was awarded the Middlesex Outstanding Service Cricket Award as well as the UK Outstanding Sports Official prize in 2014, and in both 2005 and 2014 nominated for an England and Wales Cricket Board 'Outstanding Service to Cricket Award', which is presented at Lord’s, finishing runner up on the latter occasion. But perhaps his most prized opportunity was being invited to score at Lord’s for a MCC match in 2015 to add to his appearance at Lord’s with Brentham in 1972.

 

BCC president David Bloomfield said: “Ivor’s achievement is an unbelievable one and something that is unlikely ever to be equalled. Club Cricket is full of people who volunteer their time and the club has already recognised his unparalleled service to it by appointing him as a Life Vice President.  Before this Saturday’s match Chaplin will be presented with a trophy to commemorate his incredible feat of longevity.

Player reps sabotaging the game, says CA chairman.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 13 July 2017.

PTG 2200-11140.

Cricket Australia (CA) chairman David Peever has lashed out at suggestions he is running an ­extreme ­industrial relations agenda and attacked the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), saying its “reckless” tactics can only “damage­ the game” and the ­interests of players, sponsors and broadcasters.  Peever, whose comments come as his chief executive is now in direct negotiations with his ACA counterpart (PTG 2200-11144 below),  says the players’ association has launched a campaign of such “sustained ferocity that anyone could be forgiven for thinking CA was proposing the reintroduction of slavery rather than healthy pay rises”.

The former Rio Tinto mining head has also taken aim at the role of ACA adviser Greg Combet, a former Australian federal Labor minister and before that leader of the Australia Council of Trade Unions (PTG 2146-10894, 26 May 2017).  “Not content with that level of overreaction, the ACA has gone much further, refusing to allow players to tour, threatening to drive away commercial sponsors and damage the prospects of broadcast partners, lock up player IP [intellectual property] into its own business ventures and even stage its own games".

Peever says: “Of all the claims swirling around the pay negotiations between­ [CA] and the[ACA], perhaps the most tawdry is the suggestion that CA has been motivated by some extreme industri­al relations agenda, supposedly imported from the mining industry.  It’s a complete myth, and deeply insulting to many people across the cricket spectrum. It has been deliberately fabric­ated by those seeking to portray cricket as an industrial relation­s battleground, and pushed­ out for the explicit purpose of undermining CA’s case for modest but necessary changes to the current player payment model”.

CA is allowing players to train with their states and squads but has made it clear they will not be given any backpay for the period when they are out of contract.  Instead is feeding players’ salaries into its National Commun­ities Facilities Funding Scheme (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017). CA claims it saved $A250,000 (£UK149,015) from the cancelled­ tour of South Africa and is saving $A1.2 million (£UK715,270) a fortnight on salaries. All of that money is going to the game’s lower rungs.

The players’ association has run a highly co-ordinated campaign during negotiations, seeking advice from Combet along the way. Its campaign has been endorsed by Australia captains­ Steve Smith and Meg Lanning (PTG 2195-11117, 9 July 2017).  Peever says this is proof that the other side is to blame for misrepresentation of his position.  “That a former politician and adviser to the ACA Greg Combet has been a foremost public proponent­ of the myth ought to ring alarm bells in reasonable minds”, he says.  "I have no recollection of ever discussing either industrial relations or cricket with Mr ­Combet and can only conclude he has some old axe to grind on unrelated matters”.

Peever says he and CA have been “flooded ... with messages of support” from volunteers at grassroots level who see “chronic underfunding” of the game there, and that these people have been insulted by the portrayal of the dispute as an ideological industrial relations battle. “Predictably, the myth has been eagerly … repeated by certain shock jocks and gossip columnists".

CA is under pressure from its corporate partners as the players have signed their intellectual property over to a group called 'The Players Brand', which is administered by the ACA (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017).  The arrangement means that any sponsors who have paid money to CA to leverage the players’ images in marketing campaigns can do so only if they get the permission of the ACA or individual agents.

Peever says he is not anti-union and it is “untrue” that he wants to break the ACA.  “CA has put what in normal circumstances would be regarded as a very generous offer on the table”, he says.  It includes “healthy pay increases for all male players, a more than 150 per cent increase in pay for all female players and gender equity in pay and conditions, a share of any surplus for all players and major increases in other support and benefits”.

Court told BCCI old guard’ stalling reforms.

Hindustan Times.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2200-11141.

The Indian Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has lambasted former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Narayanaswami Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah of the Saurashtra Cricket Association, as well as other ex-members, in its fourth status report to the Court, saying that “such disqualified persons have a vested interest in stalling implementation of the [Court’s] judgment” (PTG 2190-11100, 5 July 2017).  In July last year the Court accepted most of the recommendations of its Lodha committee on how to reform the way cricket is run India and gave the BCCI six months to implement the proposals (PTG 1880-9420, 19 July 2016). 

Srinivasan and Shah were both present at a BCCI Special General Meeting (SGM) held late last month (PTG 2179-11047, 27 June 2017).  In its report to the Court, a copy of which has been uploaded to the BCCI’s official website, the CoA states: “Such disqualified persons have a vested interest in stalling implementation of [Court] judgements because if [they are[] implemented, such disqualified person will have to relinquish control over their respective state associations” (PTG 2155-10932, 3 June 2017).  

While Srinivasan was nominated by the executive committee of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association to represent the body in the meeting, Shah was a "special invitee" as he is a member of a BCCI "special committee" formed to list for the Court the "difficulties" the BCCI confronts in implementing the Lodha reforms.  The CoA report goes on to say: “In this manner, such disqualified persons are effectively able to do indirectly what they’ve been prohibited by you [the Court] from doing directly”.  “Disqualified persons were able to effectively hijack proceedings at the SGM by prevailing upon other attendees (who may have been otherwise willing to facilitate the reform process) to either support the cause of such disqualified persons or stay silent”.  An audio clip supporting that claim has also been sent to the Court.

The report, which the Supreme Court will consider on Friday, specifically criticised the role of the BCCI’s honorary treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry at the SGM, claiming the "remained a mute spectator, lacking the courage or conviction to speak in favour of implementation of the reforms”.  However, the CoA heaped praise on honorary joint secretary Amitabh Chaudhary, stating that he was one of the few persons who tried to convince the representatives to “take concrete steps for implementation of the reforms”.

The CoA has also recommended six names to the Court for the appointment as the BCCI’s new ombudsman, a post which has been vacant since September 2016, and has asked the Court to look into the matter.  The ombudsman job was one of the positions established as a result of the Lodha report.  Its role is to "deal with the complaints of Conflict of Interest and any act of indiscipline or misconduct or violation of any of the Rules and Regulations of the Board by an administrator” (PTG 1668-8176, 22 October 2015).

Also recommended to the Court by the CoA in its latest report are the names of former Indian cricketers Anshuman Gaekwad, Kapil Dev and Bharath Reddy to be included as members of the reconstituted steering committee to initiate the process of establishing the Cricket Players’ Association as recommended by Lodha (PTG 2182-11064, 29 June 2017).  

Notts bowler ruled out for season after head strike.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2200-11142.

Nottinghamshire seam bowler Luke Fletcher has been ruled out for the rest of the season after being struck on the head in his follow through in a Twenty20 fixture at Edgbaston on Saturday (PTG 2194-11112, 9 July 2017).  Fletcher was assessed and treated at the ground before being transferred to hospital for further investigations. Although he was discharged on Sunday, he returned to hospital to undergo further tests on Tuesday (PTG 2197-11125, 11 July 2017).

Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, said: "Following consultation with doctors, Luke has been ruled out for the rest of the 2017 season to allow adequate time to recover and complete a monitored care plan to ensure he has a safe return to play.  Whilst we are all obviously very disappointed, Luke's health is of paramount importance and comes first. We will continue to give him every support as he undergoes his recovery”.

Stadium staff stripped of trousers before being paid.

BBC World.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2200-11143.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has apologised to Hambantota ground staff who were ordered to strip off and return the uniforms provided to them before being paid. The incident happened after the final match in the one-day series between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium on Monday.  Images on social media showed some of the temporary staff walking off in their underpants.

The affected staff were among about 100 young local people contracted temporarily on a daily wage of 1,000 Lankan rupees ($A8.50 , £UK5.05) to carry out ground duties at the ground.  The SLC has adopted the practice of covering the entire ground in the event of rain, so the board usually hires dozens of local workers on a day-wage basis whenever a match is to be played. Only recently have they required these workers to wear a full uniform. 

After the last match in Hambantota the workers were told they would have to give back the trousers they had been issued, which sported the SLC logo, before being paid.  Reports say the staff had not been told of the arrangement and many had not brought a spare pair to go home in. SLC said in a statement on Tuesday: "Whilst stern action will be taken against those responsible, Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to apologise to those subjected to this ignominy, and will take steps to ensure they are compensated”.

CA, ACA chief executives in marathon meeting.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

PTG 2200-11144.

Australian cricket's warring chiefs James Sutherland and Alistair Nicholson have held their most intensive meeting yet in an urgent attempt to end a pay fight that will ultimately have ruinous consequences for both men and their organisations if not resolved quickly.  Amid mounting commercial pressure both externally and internally, it is understood that Cricket Australia's (CA) chief executive Sutherland spent more than four hours with his Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) counterpart Nicholson in Melbourne on Tuesday in an effort to find a way forward.

While the meeting did not result in a breakthrough, more CEO-to-CEO talks are planned, and in itself the extensive discussion underlines the dire path Australian cricket is on. CA is presently without sponsors for its international men's team across all formats, with even the likely Test team sponsor ‘Magellan' unwilling to put pen to paper until the dispute ends (PTG 2198-11132, 12 July 2017).

The governing body's existing commercial partners such as the Nine Network, ‘KFC', Commonwealth Bank, a private health insurance company and car maker ‘Toyota are growing increasingly anxious about the uncertainty. The car manufacturer in particular was left fuming when it emerged that Australian bowler Mitchell Starc had signed up with a rival ‘Audi' dealership in western Sydney - defying the protected sponsorship rights for which ‘Toyota’; have paid CA a premium (PTG 2195-11115, 9 July 2017). Other such deals are reportedly in the works.

It is believed that the next step for these sponsors would be to request fee reductions in lieu of the uncertainty and the ability of CA to fulfil its contractual obligations by making players available for advertising and promotional appearances. Such a move would have swift financial consequences for the board even as it withholds about $A1.2 million (£UK715,270) a fortnight in payments from around 230 players left unemployed by the 30 June expiry of the previous CA-ACA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) (PTG 2200-11140 above).

That expiry has served as something of a trigger for Sutherland to get steadily more involved in discussions with Nicholson. Following Sutherland's mid-May letter to Nicholson threatening that players would eventually be left out of contract (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017), the pair's first significant communication is believed to have taken place before the CA chief left for International Cricket Council meetings in the middle of that month. They spoke via the phone when Sutherland was in England, and again on his return to Australia.

Sutherland returned to CA's Melbourne headquarters on 29 June and initially declined to get directly involved in negotiations, despite the players' calls for him to do so (PTG 2189-11092, 4 July 2017). But once the MoU expired, his contact with Nicholson began to increase, leading to face-to-face talks briefly last week and more extensively on Tuesday. At the same time, CA's official lead negotiator Kevin Roberts has continued to meet with ACA negotiators, including the association's general legal counsel Joe Connellan.  Roberts has taken a harder line, echoing Sutherland's earlier letter, and also a pair of written refusals by CA's chairman David Peever to allow for third party mediation (PTG 2149-10905, 28 May 2017). 

At the same time, the ACA's negotiators and the players themselves are aware that an extended dispute will only serve to shrink the overall revenue created by cricket in Australia, scaring off sponsors, drawing decreasing fees for those who remain and also reducing broadcast rights and gate revenues as angry fans either switch the channel or fail to turn up to matches.  While ultimately it will be CA's job as the governing body to clean up most of the mess, the players will feel the sting of reduced pay packets and also the invective delivered to them by spectators - much as Major League baseballers did at the end of the 1994-95 lockout that forced the cancellation of the World Series.

Sutherland's meeting with Nicholson came on the same day that the longtime CA board director Mark Taylor addressed nervous commercial partners about the current storm. In doing so he effectively stated that there was far too much at risk for the battle to go on much longer, whatever either party had hoped to gain out of it at the beginning (PTG 2198-11131, 12 July 2017).

Another voice calling for cooler heads to prevail this week was Sutherland's former lieutenant Michael Brown, who worked alongside him at CA for a decade from 2002. "It surprises me that the relationship has been allowed to get to the level it has”, Brown told a Melbourne radio station. "We spent a lot of time during my tenure making sure players were part of the game and we respected players.

"We lived with the arguments about payments and what was fair and reasonable... their share of revenue was always important. It seems now that both parties have come to a stumbling block, and my best advice is leave your egos at the door, sit down quietly, away from the media spotlight, and find a resolution because this is not good for the game.  While the Ashes is important, the biggest driver of our revenues is our Indian tours, and we saw with ‘Monkeygate' back in 2008 the damage that [trouble with] India can do, not only to bilateral relations but to world cricket itself (PTG 389-2066, 17 March 2009). We are one of the three strong teams in world cricket, and we need to maintain leadership on both [board's and players'] sides”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,201

Friday, 14 July 2017

 

• Trent Bridge crowd short-changed by harsh Rabada ban [2201-11145].

• ACA hits back at CA chairman’s pay dispute blast [2201-11146].

• How clumsy CA has gone about its work [2201-11147].

Trent Bridge crowd short-changed by harsh Rabada ban.

Mike Atherton.

The Times.

Friday, 14 July 2017.

PTG 2201-11145.

Consider this: two minor offences, six months apart, in different forms of the game, have resulted in a Test-match ban. For spectators paying a significant sum for the privilege of watching international cricket at Nottingham in the second England-South Africa Test, that is a matter of regret, especially since the player in question, Kagiso Rabada, is a young, fast bowler, the most promising, perhaps, in the game (PTG 2195-11116, 9 July 2017).

No cricketer, no matter their quality or reputation, should be immune from punishment and there is a degree of sympathy for International Cricket Council (ICC) match referees, who are governed by regulations and their employer’s understandable desire to oversee a game that is welcoming and acceptable to all. But a degree of flexibility and understanding is necessary in a game that is highly demanding of its players, and at a time of intense scrutiny when spectators expect nothing other than full-on engagement between opponents.

Taken in isolation, neither “offence” was worth reporting. Rabada’s reaction to his dismissal of Ben Stokes, a full throated roar and expletive, which caused Stokes to turn around in mild surprise, was given no space in my match report; it probably did not register with most viewers at the ground, either. The stump microphone transmitted Rabada’s reaction, but bad language is hardly a hanging offence and Rabada was not sending Stokes off in the strictest sense of the phrase (PTG 2193-11108, 8 July 2017).

The demerit point accrued for this minor Level One offence added up to four points on the back of the three demerit points handed down in February for what was described as “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact”, between Rabada and the Sri Lanka batsman, Niroshan Dickwella (PTG 2043-10352, 9 February 2017). Four points within a 24-month period are automatically converted into suspension points, for one Test or two One Day Internationals, whichever comes first, hence Rabada’s absence from the Trent Bridge game

Cricket is not a game of physical contact between players and the ICC is right to maintain a zero-tolerance approach to anything that resembles a physical threat, but the contact between Rabada and Dickwella was trifling, a shoulder brush nothing more, instigated it would appear by the batsman as the bowler returned to his mark. It was hardly Dennis Lillee and Javed Miandad at Perth in 1981, when Miandad threatened to hit Lillee with his bat, having been kicked by the bowler.

The replacement of Rabada and JP Duminy by Far Du Plessis and Duanne Olivier also changes the ethnic make-up of the team. South Africa’s transformation targets demand that the selectors pick six players of colour, including two black Africans. This target is more complex than it might seem, since it is measured over the whole season and three forms of the game, rather than on a match-by-match basis. Du Plessis was nonchalant about this when asked  but it remains a complication unique to South Africa (PTG 2187-11086, 2 July 2017).

Olivier hails from Bloemfontein, the birth-place of Allan Donald, who was at the nets yesterday, and once bowled a spell during a Trent Bridge Test match that was accompanied by some salty verbal exchanges, that would have put him at the mercy of the match referee under the present demerit system. That spell of cricket has gone down in folklore. You cannot completely sanitise the game.

ACA hits back at CA chairman’s pay dispute blast.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 14 July 2017.

PTG 2201-11146.

Australia's players have hit back at Cricket Australia (CA) chairman David Peever's angry comments about the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) as the game's warring parties start the long road to resolving the ugly pay dispute (PTG 2200-11140, 13 July 2017).  As players head towards their first missed pay day, CA chief executive James Sutherland will take part in a meeting on Friday involving the full negotiation teams of both sides after a week which has raised hopes within the industry of a potential breakthrough. A resolution, however, is still considered a long way off.

Sutherland's participation comes with CA under pressure from sponsors, who have lost access to players despite signing multi-million dollar deals (PTG 2197-11127, 11 July 2017).  Commercial partners have contacted CA frustrated by what they perceive to be a lack of communication from the governing body over the issue. Sponsors are now contacting the ACA's 'The Cricketers’ Brand', which was set up to manage players' intellectual property, for access (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017).

Talks have been going on between CA and the ACA this week but Sutherland's participation is significant given the players union's insistence that no resolution could be reached without him (PTG 2200-11144, 13 July 2017). While sources from both CA and the ACA agree progress is being made, opinion is divided as to how much.  Next month’s Test tour of Bangladesh is still in danger of being called off, with players believed to be giving CA three weeks to make satisfactory progress before they make a decision.

Former Australian government minister and trade union heavyweight Greg Combet said Peever’s comments were "astonishing and absurd", and "only served to deepen the divide between players and administrators at a time when CA should be looking to build trust".  Combet said: “David Peever’s assertion that I am using my advisory role to the cricket players to re-prosecute some decades old industrial relations grudge is absurd.  My advice has been solely directed to the achievement of the players’ goals – a fair share for all male and female players in the revenue they create, and to look after grassroots cricket”.

The timing of Peever's comments slamming the ACA's "reckless" tactics raised eyebrows within the union and among industry insiders and others (PTG 2201-11147 below).  It's believed Peever, a former managing director of mining giant Rio Tinto, penned his column in response to reports painting him as a union-breaker who was using cricket as an industrial relations battleground.  Peever said the ACA was not behaving in a way that respected the players' indications they wanted to be partners of the game.

However, there is still a strong feeling among players and agents that Peever has played a major role in the feud, which has left more than 200 players unemployed since the last agreement expired on 30 June. CA-contracted players and state players who were on one-year deals are not expecting to be paid later this week.  While some suggested Peever's remarks were a sign both parties remained a long way apart, others feel he has used the progress as his last chance to blast the ACA before a resolution is struck.  

An ACA spokesman said: "The timing of Mr Peever's [comments] is disappointing because it does nothing to further any progress that we are trying to make.  It is almost two weeks after CA have forced the players in to unemployment and is refusing to back pay them, despite the players training for free. The ACA don't apologise for holding CA to account or for asking the hard questions on behalf of our members that must be answered for the betterment of cricket.  The imputation that the players and the ACA are sabotaging the game is wrong. We are currently talking with commercial and broadcast partners and are offering them a way through this. We have kept these stakeholders abreast of the issues in the negotiations, and the importance of them to the players”.

How clumsy CA has gone about its work.

Gideon Haigh.

The Australian.

Friday, 14 July 2017.

PTG 2201-11147.

Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s contention that “the medium is the message” remains so beloved of opinion page pundits that it’s overdue a run in the sports pages. And this week’s contribution to the game’s pay dispute by Cricket Australia ()CA) chairman David Peever could hardly be improved on as an illustration (PTG 2200-11140, 13 July 2017).  McLuhan argued that the form of a message is every bit as significant as its content.

And that, in a dispute as much about authority as it is money, should guide our interpretation of Peever’s having his say in writing on Thursday: that is, he chose not to appear, not to answer questions, not to incur the risk of interruption or contradiction, but simply to publish, in order to control.

Peever said some things — we’ll get to those. Yet the step itself was almost as self-revelatory as the moment a couple of months ago when CA condemned the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) for issuing a press release by issuing a press release.  So what did Peever say? Alas, not much. The first four paragraphs foamed with indignation — “most tawdry”, “complete myth”, “deeply insulting”, “deliberately fabricated”, “disrespects all those involved across the cricket community” — about the role of ACA adviser Greg Combet in portraying cricket as “an industrial relations battleground”.

Well, heaven forfend that one should perceive a collective bargaining agreement as having anything to do with industrial relations. But to quote Peever: “The suggestion that CA’s push to modify the player payments model has nothing to do with genuine issues facing the game is an insult to everyone involved at CA, including other members of the board. It is also an insult to all those from across the state and territory associations who understand and support the need for change”

Goodness me — everyone’s so insulted. But this is the vigorous threshing of a straw man. Precisely nobody says the dispute has “nothing to do with genuine issues facing the game”; they merely sniff the unmistakeable bouquet of bullshit when CA insists that this is all the dispute is about.  “I recognise the place of collective bargaining”, Peever continues proleptically, “and I accept the industrial relations framework in Australia”.

Yet this is a bit like saying that he recognises the place of the speed limit and accepts the custom of driving on the left-hand side of the road.  All anyone worth listening to in this debate has argued is that the relationship of the professional athlete to modern sport makes a problematic fit with the conventional relationship of employee to employer because the athlete represents both producer and product (PTG       ).  It’s a simple enough idea. CA has acquiesced in it for 20 years by paying cricketers out of a share of revenue. Those cricketers are entitled to ask what has changed, especially when they see athletes in other competitions, rightly or wrongly, agitating for similar ­status.

In one respect, I’m inclined to agree with Peever. His merely having worked for Rio Tinto should not make of CA a “union basher”. But what CA is doing is behaving as a monopoly. And of monopolies a wariness is always justified, especially when they assert their market power, as CA has in escalating this dispute.  Not that you’d guess this from the victimhood that oozes from Peever’s screed. By his account, CA has always respected the ACA; it has been “very generous”; it has endured a campaign against it of “sustained ferocity” waged by others with a “reckless strategy”.

Yet an express principle of CA’s proposal, unchanged from the very beginning, was that it cease to provide funding for the ACA — a hitherto uncontroversial convention, in recognition of the union covering 100 per cent of Australia’s male and female international and domestic cricketers. What could have been more adversarial?

As for CA’s generosity, its proposed package, stripped of payroll tax, rolled-over adjustment ledger and pie-eyed prizemoney projections then stretched across a greater number of players reflecting the inclusion of women, actually looks a bit parsimonious.

Finally, who did what to whom? For even if one accepted every other aspect of Peever’s position — and of his commitment to grassroots cricket I would never doubt his sincerity — it is CA that has kept turning up the dial in this dispute. It is CA that attempted to turn the top international cricketers against the rest by seeking to buy the former off with turbocharged rewards.

It is CA that has tried to turn female cricketers against male, with, among other things, an attempt last week to make a big deal out of the last adjustment ledger that was lamer than a three-­legged dog.  It is CA that has sought to turn grassroots cricket against elite cricketers — an entirely bizarre gambit when the success of both are so strongly linked.

And in the end it was CA that walked away from the cricketers, not the other way around, that terminated their relations with extreme prejudice, that isn’t paying them now, that won’t backpay them ever, that opposes them pursuing their livelihoods anywhere else.  In instituting the lockup, CA also caused the players’ intellectual property [IP] to revert to the ACA. Yet Peever now criticises the ACA for its decision to “lock up player IP into its own business ventures”. Precisely what was the ACA meant to do? Put it in the fridge?

To surrender something so valuable as IP was the very definition of a “reckless strategy”. And CA’s commercial and broadcasting partners will, one imagines, be letting it know.  In the meantime, players have demonstrated their good faith by continuing to train, keeping their own counsel, and hoping for resolution, while CA have gone on blaming everyone but themselves. And while the message of Peever’s communique yesterday may have strained for the odd conciliatory sentiment, the medium tells otherwise — that CA remains no closer to understanding how clumsily it has gone about its work.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,202

Saturday, 15 July 2017

 

• On-field female umpire pairing for last WWC Group round [2202-11148].

• Players miss first pay as talks continue [2202-11149].

• Indian Supreme Court asks Srinivasan, Shah, to ‘explain' [2202-11150].

• CA-ACA talks stick on allocation of digital revenues [2202-11151].

• Sutherland key but is he too late to end the bitterness? [2202-11152].

• Lower-tier cricket in Bangladesh faces huge crisis [2202-11153].

• Spidercam's web of intrigue at Lord’s [2202-11154].

On-field female umpire pairing for last WWC Group round.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 15 July 2017.

PTG 2202-11148.

Kathy Cross of New Zealand and Sue Redfern of England are to stand together in the final round Group stage match of the Womens’ World Cup (WWC) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Leicester on Saturday, the first time in the 28 matches that lead up to next week’s WWC semi finals two female umpires will have stood together in the series.  Of the thirteen umpires appointed to the event, four of whom are female (PTG 2168-10998, 18 June 2017), all have been appointed to on-field positions in either four or five games, however, both Paul Wilson of Australia and Langton Rusere of Zimbabwe had one of their four and five matches respectively, washed out.

Television umpire spots in the seven games that have been broadcast have all gone to male members of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP): Gregory Brathwaite (West Indies), Chris Brown (NZ), Anil Chaudhary (India), Shaun George (South Africa), Ahsan Raza (Pakistan), Sharfuddoula (Bangladesh), and Wilson, those IUP members to miss out being Adrian Holdstock of South Africa and Rusere.  

Match records indicate that of the four female umpires, Claire Polosak of Australias has to date been limited to working as a television umpire in single senior men’s List A and Twenty20 fixtures, and both Cross and Redfern in single Womens’ One Day Internationals, while Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies does not appear to have been exposed to that role at all. 

Match referees Stave Bernard (Australia), David Dukes (England) and Richie Richardson (West Indies) have overseen nine games each, former international umpire Steve Davis coming in to manage Cross and Redfern’s game.  Davis is in England working as a Cricket Liaison Officer with the England and Wales Cricket Board, and during the Australian summer serves as a match referee for Cricket Australia (CA) in womens’ and other CA matches.

Players miss first pay as talks continue.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 14 July 2017.

PTG 2202-11149.

Leading player agent Neil Maxwell has emerged as a potential white knight whose intervention has raised hopes of an impending resolution to Australian cricket's damaging pay war.  Maxwell, a former first class players for both VIctoria and NSW, is one of the most influential player agents in the country with a number of high-profile players on his books.  

As more than 200 cricketers missed their first pay cheque on Friday, it can be revealed Maxwell has become a central figure in high-level negotiations between players and Cricket Australia (CA).  While players are portraying CA chief executive James Sutherland's decision to come to the table as a key to the breakthrough, it's emerged Maxwell's increased participation is also being seen as pivotal in helping both parties break a long deadlock.  It's understood high-profile players, unsatisfied with the lack of progress, lobbied successfully last weekend for Maxwell to play a larger role in negotiations.

Maxwell, who is part of the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) seven-person executive, is said to have been instrumental in setting up the meeting between both parties' formal negotiating teams that took place Friday. That meeting was going into Friday night with more time set aside for talks this weekend if required.

Maxwell's meeting with CA's chief negotiator Kevin Roberts on Monday led to the lengthy discussions on Tuesday between Sutherland and his ACA counterpart Alistair Nicholson (PTG 2200-11144, 13 July 2017). That, in turn, resulted in chairmen David Peever and Greg Dyer holding talks on Wednesday, after which Friday's marathon meeting was organised.

ACA sources have indicated progress is slow but high-ranking figures inside CA are privately hopeful a resolution could be sealed as early as this weekend, although one report suggests issues related to digital revenue are a sticking point (PTG 2202-11151 below).  The developments come with CA under pressure from sponsors, who are frustrated at losing access to players despite signing multi-million-dollar deals (PTG 2197-11127, 11 July 2017).

Maxwell is believed to have been in contact with former Test captain and CA director Mark Taylor, who this week called for a compromise between the ACA and the governing body (PTG 2198-11131, 12 July 2017).  Taylor's remarks are believed to have raised eyebrows within CA’s Melbourne headquarters.

There has been a feeling within CA that Nicholson, whom they believe was unwilling to make any concessions in negotiations, has been a major stumbling block in a deal getting done. The ACA have rejected those suggestions, saying it was no coincidence progress started being made once the union's calls for Sutherland to come to the table were honoured.

This week's talks progress has improved chances of next month's Test tour of Bangladesh going ahead.  The long impasse between players and board came after CA wanted the revenue-share model, introduced in 1997, disbanded as it believed it was not financially viable to run the game.  What the long-term impacts of the dispute will be though remains to be seen (PTG 2202-11152 below).

Indian Supreme Court asks Srinivasan, Shah, to ‘explain'.

Sidharth Monga and Nagraj Gollapudi.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 14 July 2017.

PTG 2202-11150.

Narayanaswami Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah will have to explain to the Supreme Court of India their roles in stalling the implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendations. The pair of former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) office bearers were singled out by the Court-appointed BCCI Committee of Administrators (CoA) in a scathing appraisal of the progress - or lack of - made by the board in implementing the recommendations (PTG 2190-11100, 5 July 2017). The Court will hear the matter on Monday week, two days before the next BCCI Special General Meeting (SGM) to discuss the recommendations.

At Friday's Court hearing, Justice Dipak Misra observed that "if a person is disqualified to be an office bearer, he cannot be nominated by office bearers”.  Misra's statement is significant because Srinivasan and Shah, despite being disqualified as office bearers on grounds that they are over 70 years old and having exceeded the tenure cap, had attended BCCI meetings as representatives or nominees of their respective state associations - Tamil Nadu (TNCA) and Saurashtra. 

According to the CoA's latest status report to the Court, Srinivasan and Shah have prevented other BCCI members from reaching a consensus on implementing the Lodha Committee's recommendations (PTG 2200-11141, 13 July 2017).

Last month the BCCI formed a 'special committee’ to shortlist the most significant problems the board had with the Lodha recommendations in order to put them before the Court for reconsideration.  However, the Court was told by its legal advisor Gopal Subramanium, that when the wider BCCI body held SGMs to discuss and ratify the shortlisted recommendations, the meetings were "hijacked" by Srinivasan and Shah.  “Untill now, most recommendations were by and large accepted”, Subramanium said, but Srinivasan and Shah kept repeating "nothing can be implemented".

Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Srinivasan and other state associations, responded on behalf of his client whose view us: "I am a member of TNCA. Nobody can take my membership away”. The states have argued that the disqualified office bearers - such as Srinivasan and Shah - are not attending the meetings as office bearers but as representatives, and that the Lodha Committee's eligibility criteria did not apply to representatives.  In the status report submitted to the court last Tuesday, the CoA said disqualified office bearers were "impediments" to the implementation of recommendations. 

The BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary, in an affidavit filed in the court on Tuesday, said that five state associations - Tamil Nadu, Saurashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa - had objected to the implementation of the recommendations at the BCCI’s late June SGM. Choudhary noted the efforts of the CoA, which had met the state associations twice and "stressed" that it could work with the BCCI in "canvassing the impracticality or difficulties that may arise in implementation of some clauses" of the recommendations.  

The Court did not hear the other requests in the CoA's status report, which will be heard on Monday week. The court accepted the resignations of CoA members Vikram Limaye and Ramachandra Guha (PTG 21640-10978, 14 June 2017), and Subramanium submitted six names as possible replacements. Sibal argued that his clients should also be allowed to suggest names; the Court granted him the request and decided to hear the matter at its next hearing.

CA-ACA talks stick on allocation of digital revenues.

Nick Tabakoff.

The Australian.

Saturday, 15 July 2017.

PTG 2202-11151.

Players could once more be set to receive a significant share of cricket’s revenues, as Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) held intensive­ talks on Friday in an attempt­ to hammer out a compromise­ on how the game’s takings are distributed (PTG 2202-11149 above).  However, it is understood one key sticking point has emerged in the negotiations: the issue of how digital revenues from the sport’s flagship website, cricket.com.au, will be allocated in the future.

Despite controversial comments by CA chairman David Peever on Thursday (PTG 2200-11140, 13 July 2017), good progress has been made this week in hammering out a compromise between the parties on distrib­ution of revenues.  These talks came to a head on Friday, with the warring parties holding marathon face-to-face discussions in Melbourne, wih CA chief executive James Sutherland and his ACA counterpart Alistair Nicholson being flanked by teams of lawyers and support staff.

Following the discussions, cricket looks headed for a reven­ue agreement with players in which they would get a share of gross revenue from some cricket activity streams, and net revenue with costs taken out before distrib­ution in others.  This is along the lines of what was achieved by the Australian Football League in this year’s recent pay agreement with its players. That deal was also understood to have a hybrid of gross and net revenue share for players.

The crucial issue of how one of cricket’s great potential growth areas, digital revenue, is carved up, appeared to be unresolved. It is understood the players hold the view that CA’s cricket.com.au website — already one of the country’s most-visited sports sites — could in the digital era one day become the main platform for delivering live cricket to the general public.

In an increasingly splintered media, websites for each major sport could in future become the primary form of screening major sporting events, rather than conventional broadcast TV.  Cricket.com.au is not profitable yet because it has not reached its potential as a portal, and it spends big money on prod­uction costs of domestic matches, such as CA's Sheffield Shield and domestic one-day series, that are not shown on free-to-air TV.  However, the players want to lock in a share of digital revenues on the likelihood that the site could one day become the major platform for viewing cricket, given that under this circumstance they would be the primary source of content for the site.

In the five-year player deal that expired at the end of June, there was contention about whether digital revenues should have been include­d in the calculation of total revenue, as part of the previous arrangement that saw a minimum of 24.5 per cent of revenue for several streams included.  It is understood the parties disagreed on the treatment of digital revenue in the previous deal, and that disagreement has been brought forward into the current discussions.

There appears to be a fresh urgenc­y to strike a deal, driven largely by some state players reliant­ on their CA salary.  Given that most players became­ technically unemployed two weeks ago, they have now missed out on their first fortnightly payment, which would have lobbed into their accounts on Friday.  One non-negotiable con­dition from the players before any deal is reached is likely to be backpay to 1 July, the date they became officially unemployed.

Sutherland key but is he too late to end the bitterness?

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Saturday, 15 July 2017.

PTG 2202-11152.

Cricket’s bruising contract battle has looked like it would be won by the last party standing and prompted questions as to who can keep their job and how a path forward can be navigated.  Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland’s involvement in the dispute may have come too late to save the unfortunate fallout since most Australia players were forced into unemployment, but it appears to have finally got negotiations moving with reports the two parties held a marathon meeting in Melbourne that extended late into Friday night (PTG 2202-11149 above).

Sutherland and his opposite number Alistair Nicholson, along with both their negotiating parties, finally made it to the table in an official capacity in the second week of the lockout. There are more talks scheduled for Saturday.  Players had signalled they were willing to concede ground within a revenue-sharing model, but there is no indication in which direction the talks are heading. They had been stalled since before Christmas over both side’s contrary opinions on the revenue share issue.

It has been a tumultuous time for cricket and there is speculation about how the two parties can get any semblance of a relationship back on track after the encounter.  Sutherland has been in the job for 16 years and was a supporter of the revenue-share model for most of them although he argues now that it has served its purpose. Whether he stays or goes will be fascinating and won’t necessarily be because of the recent crisis but will be read through that prism by many.

Under his watch CA has been one of the most progressive organisations in world cricket. He pushed for the cricket’s first ever day-night Test — a format that has recently been adopted by other nations.  The Big Bash League, which Sutherland oversaw, is considered, after the India Premier League, to be one of the best domestic Twenty20 leagues in the world and a model others have copied. The remuneration and professionalisation of women’s cricket in recent times is another feather in the chief executive'’s cap.

CA chairman David Peever emphatically denied this week that he has introduced a mining industry style industrial campaign onto the sport in the dispute (PTG 2200-11140, 13 July 2017).  It is the first time cricket has gone into an Memorandum of Understanding debate since abandoning the old state-based corporate governance model for an independent board and while there had been some push to end the revenue-share model in past negotiations it has never been allowed to become a make or break issue.

Under the chairmanship of Peever it did. If a deal is done in the immediate future Sutherland’s role will appear to have been the decisive factors. Questions will be asked, as they have been, as to why he took so long to concede to the demands of the players to intervene. Questions will also be asked as to why Kevin Roberts, who led the negotiations for CA, was unable to gain traction in the past seven to eight months. Roberts stepped down from the board to join the executive and was once heralded as Sutherland’s replacement.

Players and their representatives are already smarting over the way these negotiations have been conducted and the fallout in terms of trust between the two parties will continue for some time.  A cleanout of one or both organisations might be on the cards.  The “optics” of alienating the entire group of Australian cricketers is terrible for the administration. Worse, is the commercial reality felt in recent weeks as sponsors who have committed millions for the rights to exploit the images of top players find themselves unable to use the cricketers whose images are now controlled by the ACA.

With no major sponsors signed for the male teams the move puts CA in a weak bargaining position (PTG 2198-11132, 12 July 2017). The dispute is also a blot on the copy book with negotiations for the key broadcast deals on the horizon. Both parties indicate there is light at the end of the tunnel, but anybody who has been at a nightclub at closing time knows it is not always pretty when the lights come on.

Lower-tier cricket in Bangladesh faces huge crisis.

Atif Azam.

Daily Star.

Friday, 14 July 2017.

PTG 2202-11153.

The high cost of participating in the qualifying series to join the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) Third Division competition, the bottom tier of the country's domestic cricket circuit, has had a significant impact with only two clubs taking part in the series ahead of the 2017-18 season.  The situation became farcical when the match between the two sides, Purbachal Sporting Club and Nababganj Cricket Academy, could not be played due to rain, a situation that led officials to pick the winner on the basis a coin toss, then decide both teams could play in the Third Division this coming season.

The Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM), which the BCB assigns to run club-based cricket, charges a club 500,000 Bangladesh Takas ($A7,935,   UK4,750), to take part in the qualifier series.  The CCDM introduced the fee in 2015, an amount that was five times that previously required to enter. 

Clubs blame what they consider is an exorbitant entry fee for the lack of interest in the Third Division qualifiers.  Commercially-run local cricket academies were hit hard by the hike as the competition was the only platform for their pupils to test themselves at the competitive level. To make things more difficult, the BCB required participating teams not be named after any commercial organsiation, that they must have a constitution, be registered by relevant government authorities, and that they should have a permanent address. 

Former Bangladesh international Tarek AzizTarek, who runs a Dhaka based cricket academy, said that if BCB didn't look after the matter immediately, it wouldn't take long to feel the pinch as there would be an acute shortage of players in the coming years.  "If this trend continues we will have shortage of players in the next five to seven years”, he said.  "It is the first platform for the budding cricketers as this gives them the opportunity to have a taste of competitive cricket for the first time. If we prevent them we are bound to eventually suffer".

Spidercam's web of intrigue at Lord’s.

Mike Haysman.

SuperSport.

Friday, 14 July 2017.

PTG 2202-11154.

There were debuts everywhere for the first Test of the England-South Africa series at Lord’s last week. Both Elgar and Root as captains, Heino Kuhn for South Africa, and one other that escaped attention until it was cursed at by Vernon Philander as he grassed that chance from Bairstow at long-off on day four. 

The 'Home of Cricket' has always been traditional and resisted change, but the modernisation of the product has tentacles that even Lord's couldn't say no to. ‘Spidercam' was used above that hallowed turf for the first time and introduced a new perspective to Test match cricket in England. Anything that brings the viewer closer to the players has got to be good news in my book. 

This ‘Spidercam' operation is owned by a German company and obviously run by talented guys from that country. Cricket is not the only sport they cover and as you can imagine their cricket knowledge is fairly limited. That could be problematic as their job is to offer shots and follow demands from the long-time director of Sky’s telecast Mark Lynch.

He told me that the day before the Lord's Test he decided to quiz the ‘Spidercam' operators on their field position knowledge to ensure they knew exactly the shots he would be looking for when he directed them.  As the machine hummed above the field via four motorised winches positioned at each corner of the ground, the results were impressive. They were given 10 out of 10 by the director, as all positions were correctly shown and with some urgency.

Following that exercise Lynch chatted with the Germans. He was surprised by one question from the ‘Spidercam' "pilot". He wanted to know how difficult it would be getting shots of all thirty players as they were fielding. Mark was taken aback and asked him to explain.   As it turns out, the ‘Spidercam' "pilot" learnt all the fielding positions from a well-known cricket tea towel that has all the known field placings printed on it on a drawing of a cricket ground.  He thought, due to his cricket-learning tea towel, that there were always thirty fielders on the ground at once! 

 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,203

Sunday, 16 July 2017

 

• Aussie MoU remains elusive, talks to resume Monday [2203-11155].

• Former Yorkshire spinner to focus on umpiring career [2203-11156].

• Match official appointments for WWC semis awaited [2203-11157].

• Jail for ‘umpire’ who wanted a 'hit' [2203-11158].

Aussie MoU remains elusive, talks to resume Monday.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 15 July 2017.

PTG 2203-11155.

Two days of extensive talks have broken down barriers of rhetoric and transparency between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), but the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) remains elusive.  As more than 230 of the nation's professional cricketers enter a third week of unemployment, the two parties are set to resume negotiations on Monday after a week in which they were at least able to communicate to each other their respective positions, needs and options for flexibility.

CA's long-time chief executive James Sutherland and his ACA counterpart Alistair Nicholson have been central to discussions following their lengthy one-on-one meeting on Tuesday (PTG 2200-11144, 13 July 2017). Their presence has brought a more pragmatic tone to talks that had previously been far less flexible and cordial.

Rather than ending a two-decade era of revenue sharing agreements between CA and the players, discussions are believed to have reverted to issues of cricket's rising cost base and the players' willingness to reduce their revenue percentage and narrow its definition to suit their shared interests with the board.  

At the same time, CA's desire for strategic investments - such as expanding their digital arm and building grassroots facilities - without ceding a portion of their cost to the players has also been tackled. The players are believed to be open to excluding such areas from their revenue percentage, provided CA can outline what they are and for how long they must be exempt.

Another discussion now unfolding is the financial relationship between CA and the ACA. After the board expressed a desire to cease direct funding of the association, the ACA set up a commercial arm called ‘The Cricketers Brand' to sell rights to the players' intellectual property (IP) (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017). It now appears likely that most of these rights will revert to CA for a fee that will in turn help fund the ACA but be much more closely linked to IP rights rather than simply being a catch-all grant.

While the improved dialogue marks a turning point in the pay war, time is short for the two parties to come to a formal agreement given all the time wasted in a public slanging match. The game's current and prospective commercial partners in particular are impatient for a resolution to end the standoff (PTG 2198-11132, 12 July 2017).

Apart from Sutherland's increased involvement, the back channel work of the player manager and ACA executive member Neil Maxwell has also been significant (PTG 2202-11149, 15 July 2017). As a former New South Wales seam bowler in the 1990s, Maxwell has been able to draw on relationships with the likes of his former teammates Mark Taylor, now a CA board member. and Kevin Roberts, CA’s chief MoU negotiator, at least until Sutherland entered the fray, to help promote greater understanding between the parties. 

One of the key areas where this was required was how much the ACA was prepared to move away from the model used in the 2012 MoU, which gave the players 24.5-27 per cent of Australian Cricket Revenue depending on the performance of the national team.  In the words of Australia's captain Steven Smith: "Through the ACA we are willing to make important changes to modernise the existing model for the good of the game. We are and have always been willing to make those changes. Changes for how the model can be adapted for the even greater benefit of grass roots cricket, which is after all where we all started” (PTG 2195-11117, 9 July 2017).

Nicholson and Sutherland, meanwhile, have been able to bring their financial expertise to the table.  "The increased involvement of CA CEO James Sutherland has been pleasing”, Nicholson said on Saturday, and “a better understanding has been established on both parties’ positions” as a result.  At the same time CA itself declined to comment.

The ACA confirmed on Saturday that a number of their out of work members, understood to be mostly female players, had “starvation" money paid into their bank accounts from the union’s emergency support fund on Friday (PTG 2197-11126, 11 July 2017).

Meanwhile, the ‘Sydney Sunday Telegraph’ is reporting Nicholson and "a senior member" of Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) new Global League Twenty20 competition, which will launch in November, have had a “conversation” (PTG 2181-11063, 29 June 2017).  Nicholson is said to have told players that they would commit to nothing by submitting a formal ‘Expression of Interest’ in taking part in the competition, a series which overlaps with the Ashes.  

CSA is said to be preparing for an “influx” of interest, however, players in Australia remain hesitant "given their desperation for the Ashes and the summer of cricket [in Australia] to go ahead”.  The ‘Telegraph’ says: “It’s unlikely the Global League will sign current Australian players, but their direct contact with the ACA highlights the exposed position the game is in at the moment with no pay agreement in place”.

Another report states that Tim Cruickshank, the ACA's executive manager, will head to India on Wednesday to seek sponsorship and broadcast opportunities for players outside of CA's official partners (PTG 2194-11111, 9 July 2017)

Former Yorkshire spinner to focus on umpiring career.

Alan Birkinshaw.

Telegraph and Argus.

Saturday, 15 July 2017.

PTG 2203-11156.

James Middlebrook will finally bring down the curtain on his playing career at the end of the current English season to continue his rise up the umpiring ranks.  The former Yorkshire, Essex and Northamptonshire spinner is already a member of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Reserve Panel while still playing for New Farnley in Bradford Premier League.  He made his first class umpiring debut in March (PTG 2090-10584, 30 March 2017), and officiated at Lord's for the first time recently when he stood in the Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge.

All-up Middlebrook will have 77 days of cricket as an umpire organised by the ECB this northern summer.  He began planning for his second career in cricket four years ago following discussions with present and past international umpires Richard Kettleborough, Rob Bailey and Peter Willey.  “They encouraged me to stand in local matches to see whether I liked umpiring and Rob and Peter helped me to find matches – club games, youth matches and disability cricket – in and around Northampton on my days off”, said Middlebrook.  "I was getting experience of umpiring while I was still playing county cricket".

“I have also spent the last three [English] winters in Australia umpiring out there. The first year I was playing for a club in Melbourne but I also umpired in matches on Sundays and in midweek.  The last two winters I have been out in Melbourne umpiring from Christmas to March. I have worked my way up and last [austral summer] I was umpiring in First Grade cricket.  When you say that I have gone from playing to the first-class Reserve Panel in 18 months it sounds quick but I have umpired a lot of matches in the last four years.  With umpiring in Australia in the winter I have effectively got eight years of experience rolled into four really”.

The 40-year-old expected to start his umpiring career two years ago after he was released by Northamptonshire at the end of the 2014 season.  But he answered a call from Yorkshire’s then captain Andrew Gale and enjoyed a successful swansong in his second spell with his native county with a County Championship title in 2015.

“Chris Kelly, the ECB umpires’ manager, has been a great help. He told me that I should play as long as I could but to get as much umpiring experience as I could”. said Middlebrook.  “The year I wanted to umpire was 2015 and I got picked up by Yorkshire. Chris allowed me to have my days playing for Yorkshire but I was umpiring in Second XI matches in between”.

In addition to his ECB commitments, Middlebrook is also a member of the Minor Counties umpires’ panel.  He admits that there will be things he will miss when he hangs up his bat.  “I will miss the dressing room but I won’t miss the playing or the sore knees. Now I’m umpiring I don’t mind who wins or loses, who gets 100 or nought, as long as I get my decisions are right I don’t care about the result”, he said.

Middlebrook has some practical advice for other professional players who are considering a career as an umpire.  “My advice would be to go and stand at square leg in a schools match or at your local club to see if you can stand there for 20 or 30 overs”, he said.  “They are long days. Every day is a fielder’s day. As a player you get a get a chance to sit down but as an umpire you are always on the field.  If you find you enjoy umpiring then go searching for your own games. Umpires are always needed so there are plenty of opportunities to gain experience”.

Match official appointments for WWC semis awaited.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 15 July 2017.

PTG 2203-11157.

The International Cricket Council will have plenty of neutral match officials to choose from when it assigns umpires and referees to this week’s Womens World Cup (WWC) semi finals in Bristol and Derby on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.  Of the 16 WWC officials, 11 of the 13 umpires, three of them women, and two of the three refereesm are potential neutrals for Tuesday's England-South Africa semi final, and 10 umpires, again three females, and two referees, for Thursday’s Australia-India semi.  It is not known when the four on-field, two television and two reserve umpires, and two referees for the two games will be named.

 

Umpires Kathy Cross of New Zealand (left) and Sue Redfern from England inspect the outfield at Grace Road, Leicester, on Saturday as rain delayed the start of play in the Women's World Cup (WWC) Group fixture between Pakistan and Sri Lanka to decide the series’ last place.  The match, which eventually got underway, was the only one of the 28 Group games in which two female umpires stood together (PTG 2202-11148, 15 July 2017).  Both umpires stood in five matches during the Group stage and worked as the reserve umpire in another two.  

Jail for ‘umpire’ who wanted a ‘hit'.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 15 July 2017.

PTG 2203-11158.

A man who told his partner he had become a cricket umpire and had to travel away from his Sussex home, has been convicted of trying to hire a hitman to kill her and jailed for 17 years.  The court heard David Harris' "story" was he was too unwell to play cricket and had been persuaded to umpire, and as he had a car he had to stand in matches furthest from where he lived.  Instead of ‘umpiring' Harris used to travel to London to be with his girlfriend,  with whom he became “besotted”, a situation that led to him trying to get rid of his partner of 27 years in order to inherit her wealth PTG 2132-10812, 13 May 2017).

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,204

Monday, 17 July 2017

 

• All-male line ups for WWC semi finals [2204-11159].

• Extra tickets released as demand for Lord’s WWC final grows [2204-11160].

• ECB reviewing match emergency procedures [2204-11161].

• Rival car sponsor closing in on Aussie skipper's signature [2204-11162].

All-male line ups for WWC semi finals.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Monday, 17 July 2017.

PTG 2204-11159.

Males have been named to fill all ten match official positions needed to manage the semi finals of the Womens’ World Cup (WWC) in Bristol and Derby on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.   Gregory Brathwaite of the West Indies and Paul Wilson from Australia are to stand in the England-South Africa match on Tuesday, and Shaun George of South Africa and Ahsan Raza of Pakistan in the Australia-India game on Thursday.  All four are members of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP).

The match in Bristol will be oversee by match referee Steve Bernard of Australia who will have Chris Brown of New Zealand as the television umpire and Sharfuddoula from Bangladesh as the fourth official.  In Derby by Englishman David Dukes will be the match referee, Adrian Holdstock of South Africa the television official and Langton Rusere from Zimbabwe the fourth official.  Selectors thus overlooked the four female umpires who took part in the tournament, Kathy Cross of New Zealand, Claire Polosak of Australia, Sue Redfern of England and Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies, for the semi finals.  

The ICC says that match official appointments for Sunday’s final at Lord’s will be announced “in due course”, most likely on Friday after the second of the semi finals has been played.  If, as is the usual ICC practice, the umpires for the final come from those given semi final spots, Brathwaite and Raza are both in  contention neutral-wise whatever the teams are who make the final.  George and Wilson will, though, only be in the mix for consideration if their respective national sides don’t make it to Lord’s.

With 10-11 neutral umpires to choose from for each semi final (PTG 2203-11157, 16 July 2017), the appointments suggest the four given on-field roles topped the umpire rankings across the 28-match Group stage of the competition.  The selection of Wilson is particularly interesting given that Australia is yet to name its nominations for the IUP for the 2017-18 year.  He is currently a third umpire member of that panel and the ICC’s assessment of his performance may tip the scales for a move up to an IUP on-field spot in place of Mike Martell who, if selection patterns are any guide, fell in  the Australian umpire rankings during the 2016-17 austral summer (PTG 2080-10529, 21 March 2017).

Extra tickets released as demand for Lord’s WWC final grows.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Monday, 17 July 2017.

PTG 2204-11160.

The demand for tickets to the Women’s World Cup final has been so high that the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has released more for public sale in areas of the stadium, such as the new Warner Stand, which are usually reserved for its members and their guests.  Before the tournament started, the International Cricket Council had sold 13,000 tickets for the final, which takes place at Lord’s on Sunday, but demand has soared since the group stages and all available tickets are expected to be sold by the weekend.  There will still be about 2,000 seats reserved for MCC members but the rest of the stadium, about 26,000, will be available to the general public.

ECB reviewing match emergency procedures.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Sunday, 16 July 2017.

PTG 2204-11161.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are reviewing their emergency safety procedures in the professional game as they react to Nottinghamshire seam bowler Luke Fletcher's injury last week.  Fletcher has been ruled out for the rest of the season after being struck on the head in his follow through in a Twenty20 fixture at Edgbaston two Saturdays ago (PTG 2200-11142, 13 July 2017).    .

Nick Peirce, the ECB’s chief medical officer, chaired the first meeting of the newly formed emergency care committee last week, its role being to standardise life saving procedures for cricketers playing in professional matches.  The committee was formed before Fletcher was struck in the head, but that incident has focused minds in cricket about the dangers in the professional game.  The meeting followed a report last year by Peirce that reviewed cricket’s emergency care procedures which has already seen changes brought in such as a physio for each team in second XI cricket and life saving training for umpires.

In May last year, ECB umpire Tim Robinson credited first aid training given to him and his colleagues before the start of the 2016 season with enabling him to provide initial assistance to Middlesex captain Adam Voges after he was struck by a ball on the back of his head (PTG 1819-9100, 4 May 2016). 

Rival car sponsor closing in on Aussie skipper's signature.

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Monday, 17 July 2017.

PTG 2204-11162.

The 'Mercedes Benz' company are closing in on the signature of Australian Test captain as Cricket Australia (CA) continues talks with major sponsors concerned, in this case official sponsor ’Toyota’, about being ambushed in the pay war.  Negotiations between CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) are set to continue in Melbourne on Monday (PTG 2203-11155, 16 July 2017), however, the game is living on a knife’s edge and cricket’s official sponsors are demanding peace as a matter of urgency.  

Last week fellow Smith’s team mate Mitchell Starc publicly announced his new personal arrangement with an ‘Audi’ dealership on social media (PTG 2195-1115, 9 July 2017), a move which reportedly angered ‘Toyota’, one of CA’s top corporate partners, and created unease inside cricket’s multimillion dollar sponsorship stable.  It was arguably one of the catalysts for the long overdue progress made between CA and the players’ association last week that must now accelerate again.

Smith’s manager is overseas in India and could not be contacted to confirm if a car dealership deal has already been finalised for his client, however, the mere fact the Australian skipper and its biggest name is being circled by ‘Toyota' rivals led by ‘Mercedes', shines another searing spotlight on the cut-throat importance being placed on cricket resolving its pay dispute this week.

Of course, Smith is doing nothing out of the ordinary by signing with a car dealership – in fact it happens regularly with CA approval – however, the key difference is that with no Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in place ‘Toyota' are not protected in any way and players are no longer banned from doing public promotion like Starc did.

CA points out that players are only hurting themselves in the long term by potentially jeopardising the support of major sponsors who fund the deep pockets of the game and enable them to be paid millions.  It’s understood CA continue to update sponsors on the MOU situation, but insist that for many partners it remains business as usual, and they’re still holding regular meetings about non pay-deal related matters as well.

Fast food company ‘KFC’ said last week they were calling on CA and the Australian Cricketers Association to resolve their dispute ASAP for the sake of the game and it’s understood other leading sponsors are also fed up (PTG 2197-11127, 11 July 2017).  ACA general manager Tim Cruickshank will fly to India on Wednesday to meet with media corporations interested in buying the intellectual property of the Australian cricket team (PTG 2194-11111, 9 July 2017), and it’s understood Smith’s manager will meet with some of those same companies as well.

CA and the ACA are still a long way apart, but the feeling is a breakthrough could happen at any time – and if that occurs, an in principle agreement could be reached almost immediately and the Test team could still tour Bangladesh in August.  

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,205

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

 

• More video technology needed in WWC, says skipper [2205-11163].

• ECB asks counties to check nets safety [2205-11164].

• Afghanistan replace Australia ‘A’ in South Africa [2205-11165].

• Former player hopes for mediation in $A2.6 m case against CA [2205-11166].

More video technology needed in WWC, says skipper.

James Buckley.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 17 July 2017.

PTG 2205-11163.

Third-umpire and decision review facilities need to be made available in every Women's World Cup (WWC) fixture, says South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk, who believes a misjudged run-out dismissal against Australia in a final Group stage game on Saturday potentially cost her side victory.  South African all-rounder Marizanne Kapp was given out by on-field umpire Chris Brown after a direct throw from the outfield, but replays showed the batswomen had comfortably made her ground.  Brown was unable to verify his decision with a third umpire given the match wasn't being broadcast live.

Third umpiring and decision reviews have been a part of this WWC for the first time (PTG 2124-10767, 5 May 2017), but they are only available in the 10 matches on the broadcast schedule – one per round in the pool phase which is now complete, plus the two semi-finals and Sunday's final (PTG 2178-11038, 26 June 2017).  Every other match is streamed on the net, but not broadcast live into the UK, so third umpire and technology hasn't been available to match officials.

"Throughout this whole tournament with the streaming and having all these nice things around, you kind of see what we've been missing – that's very important to have”, van Niekerk said.  "Umpires are human, they have to make those split-second decisions, he felt that it was out but at the end of the day I think that's what's needed in women's cricket. He doesn't have the luxury of TV – in crucial moments in the match, it makes a difference.  When I checked it from our area, her hands were in before it even hit the stumps. That was a changing moment in the game because she was hitting it really well. Maybe something would've changed there".

Kapp's dismissal wasn't the first umpiring issue of the series.  Australia was on the wrong end of a decision in their first game of the tournament against the West Indies when Chedean Nation was short of her ground as she slid her bat to complete a second run, only to not be given not out.  Replays showed on that occasion that she should have been sent back to the pavilion.

"It'd be really nice to have that opportunity to go to the third umpire wherever possible”, said Australian Ellyse Perry.  "We've got the streaming facilities. I'm not a tech expert but potentially if there was a way of setting that up, I think that'd be great going forward.  The umpires have got an incredibly tough job on calling those tight run outs. A lot of the times those really tight ones, or the ones tight to the naked eye are often out. I don't at all blame him for giving it [Kapp] out”.

ECB asks counties to check nets safety.

Simon Wilde.

The Times.

Monday, 17 July 2017.

PTG 2205-11164.

Dr Nick Peirce, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) chief medical officer, has written to the 18 first-class counties asking them to ensure the safety of their net facilities after the incident involving Luke Fletcher, the Nottinghamshire seamer who has been ruled out for the rest of the season after being hit during his follow-through in a Twenty20 match ten days ago (PTG 2200-11142, 13 July 2017).  The ECB is also reviewing match day safety issues (PTG 2204-11161, 17 July 2017).

Fletcher said he had already given up bowling in the nets ahead of Twenty20 matches because of the danger of being hit (PTG 2194-11112, 9 July 2017), and most coaches, including England’s, now wear helmets when giving throw-downs to players during practice sessions.  In February, Alex Tait a player in Bolton was seriously injured in the nets after a ball struck him between the eyes while he was bowling in the nets, a total of 15 broken bones being broken in his face (PTG 2060-10427, 27 February 2017). A similar incident occurred in the nets in Australia around the same time (PTG 2031-10281, 26 January 2017).

Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale has warned that it may take another serious injury to a bowler before practical steps are taken to prevent head injuries. Gale, who retired from playing last year, said: “Maybe something bad will have to happen, someone to be really badly injured, for things to change. I don’t think it [the Fletcher incident] is going to be a one-off. But I don’t see how you can easily change it. Do you make the pitch longer?"

“I always thought from a batting point of view, I wasn’t too bothered about helmets. You always had the philosophy, no one ever died, and then someone did, and you think I’d better change my helmet and make sure it’s up to the safety requirements. Maybe we are now at the point [for bowlers] we were at when batting helmets were first brought in.  There’s not been much talk about it among our players. We all saw the incident and it was pretty sickening. We’re just glad Fletch pulled through all right. I know he’s missing the rest of the season but in the scheme of things that’s not important.”

Peirce’s committee is researching the kind of skullcaps worn in rugby codes and American sports, but the board said there are no immediate plans to introduce bowlers’ headgear. The ECB’s Cricket Committee will not formally discuss the matter until November. Two years ago the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, or player’s union, released a paper with pointed to the risks professional players face in playing the game (PTG 1570-7547, 18 June 2015).

Marylebone Cricket Club Laws Manager Fraser Stewart said that under the revised Laws of Cricket, which come into force in October, there is nothing to stop a bowler wearing headgear. With the wearing of helmets by wicketkeepers and close fielders compulsory at many levels of the game, the new Laws Code deems the helmet to be part of the fielder’s person, meaning that a catch or stumping can be taken after the ball has struck the helmet worn by a player (PTG 1998-10086, 8 December 2016).

During the second England-South Africa Test at Trent Bridge over the weekend, South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock took a juggling catch that almost but not quite brushed the visor of his helmet, and after studying replays third umpire Sundarum Ravi confirmed the catch. From October, when the new Laws go live, this will not be an issue.

Afghanistan replace Australia ‘A’ in South Africa

Australian Associated Press.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017.

PTG 2205-11165.

The Australia ‘A’ side, which boycott the triangular series in South Africa involving their South African and Indian counterparts over the on-gong pay dispute with Cricket Australia, have been replaced by Afghanistan.  

Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat said when announcing the move: "We are delighted that Afghanistan have accepted our invitation and look forward to welcoming them to our country for the very first time”.  Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive Shafiqullah Stanikzai said in reply: "This will be our first-ever visit to South Africa and I am certain that this will give Afghanistan team very good exposure to competitive cricket”.

Monday appears to have brought no progress in the protracted pay talks between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) (PTG 2203-11155, 16 July 2017).  The next round of meetings between the two groups is not expected until Wednesday.

Former player hopes for mediation in $A2.6 m case against CA.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 17 July 2017.

PTG 2205-11166.

Former Australian Test cricketer Stuart MacGill has been given days to seek legal representation otherwise he could face trial in his $A2.6 million (£UK1.6 m) injury case against Cricket Australia (CA).  In January 2015 MacGill lodged a $A1.6 m (£UK956,160) case for loss of match payments and prize money, and almost $A1 million (£UK597,600) in interest (PTG 1504-7255, 20 January 2015), plus costs, but was a no-show at a hearing earlier this year.  He represented himself at Monday's directions hearing in the Victorian Supreme Court before Justice Michael McDonald but appeared nervous and struggled to articulate his case.

MacGill, who played 44 Tests, had claimed CA had neglected or failed to pay him injury payments over a two-year period from May 2008 when he was unable to play Test cricket because of injury.  The case is due to go to trial in mid-August but MacGill, 46, said on Monday he had hoped for court-ordered mediation before an associate judge. He said he had not realised court-ordered mediation was disallowed because he had represented himself but said he hoped to raise the funds within days to secure a solicitor and apply for mediation.  He told the court: "I will just have to try and work out if the numbers stack up".

In his writ, MacGill said he had consulted then CA team manager Steve Bernard, who is now a match referee, and captain Ricky Ponting in May 2008 about how he was unable to continue on the tour of the West Indies because of his injuries after playing in the opening two Tests.  MacGill's claim of $A1,640,890 (£UK980,595) included tour payments for 15 away Test matches ($A846,090 - £UK505,625), tour payments for 11 home Test matches ($A140,800 - £UK84,140), retainer payments at $A297,000 (£UK177,485) for 52 weeks, retainer payments at $A333,000 (£UK199,000) for 52 weeks and prize money for nine Test series at $A27,000 (£UK16,135).  

MacGill says CA had signed him for one year and offered him a further one-year contract for 2008-09 before he was "incapable" of playing as a result of "injuries and complications from injuries".   In his writ, MacGill said he had endured several injuries through his career, including an ankle bone fracture, cartilage damage to his right knee, nerve damage affecting both hands and wrists, bone fracture to right elbow, finger pain in both hands and rotator cuff displacement in his right bowling shoulder.

Justice McDonald said it would be a "very sensible move" for MacGill to seek a solicitor.  In terms of MacGill's overall claim, CA lawyer Ben Ihle said MacGill had failed "to do a number of things to be entitled" to compensation under his contract.  MacGill's claim was "really a debt claim, not a damages claim”, said Ihle.  He also raised the prospect of seeking a delay in the trial date because of the need "for witnesses to give evidence by video”.  According to him there were witnesses with domestic and international obligations, including one who had an "arrangement" in Samoa.

Justice McDonald said he would be "unsympathetic" to any delay in the hearing from mid-August, should mediation not resolve the case in the meantime. A trial has been set over four days.  MacGill left court via a back entrance and did not comment.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,206

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

 

• IPL match officials pay bill tops $A1m [2206-11167].

• Sri Lankan’s action cleared after Chennai lab test [2206-11168].

• Aussie player rights to go 'on sale' in India [2206-11169].

• UK PCA confident ahead of England pay talks [2206-11170].

IPL match officials pay bill tops $A1m.

PTG Editor

Wednesday, 19 July 2017.

PTG 2206-11167.

Umpires and match referees who supported this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) series took home well in excess of $A1 million (£UK609,020) between them, according to preliminary information released by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.  Data available for six of the eighteen umpires and three of the six referees shows payouts for the nine totalled 30.2 million Rupees ($A531,997, £UK358,538), Indian umpires Nitin Menon and CK Nandan heading the list with take home pays of 3.9 m Rupees ($A77,419, £UK46,761) for the 14 games they officiated in; Menon 11 on-field and 3 in the TV spot (11/3), and Nandan 10/4.

The three referees for whom information is available, Manu Nayyar, Chinmaya Sharma and Javagal Srinath, oversaw 12 matches each, however, their pay packets varied.  For Srinath, who was working in his tenth IPL season, one of his dozen matches being the final, he earned 3.6 m Rupees ($A70,563, £UK42,638), while Nayar and Sharma each received 3.1 m Rupees ($A61,400, £UK37,050).  A year ago Srinath was paid 2.6 m Rupees for 11 IPL games ($A52,000, £UK30,400), his per match rate then being 236,000 Rupees ($A4,625, £UK2,812) versus 300,000 Rupees ($A5,875, £UK3,575) this year.

In addition to Menon and Nandan, the other umpires whose payout details are available are: A Nanda Kishore 14 matches (10/4), 3.6 m Rupees ($A71,005, £UK42,905); KN Ananthapadmanabhan 13 matches (7/6), 3.1 m Rupees ($A60,079, £UK36,295); Anil Dandekar 13 (9/4), 3 m Rupees ($A59,195, £UK33,761); and Yeshwant Barbe 11 games (4/7),  ($A55,083, £UK33,277).  

No information is yet available publicly on fees paid to the three other referees, Indians Sunil Chaturvedi and Vengalil Kutty (both 5 games), and Zimbabwean Andrew Pycroft (10), nor for the other umpires who worked on-field or in the television suite: Anil Chaudhary (10/4); Abhijit Deshmukh (6/3); Marais Erasmus (South Africa) (7/2); Chris Gaffaney (NZ) (6/2); Nigel Llong (England) (7/2); Sundarum Ravi (12/2); Chettithody Shamshuddin (10/4); and Virender Sharma (3/8).  Four other Indian umpires, Nitin Pandit, Rohan Pandit, Navdeep Singh and Krishnamachari Srinivasan all chalked up 14 matches as fourth umpires.

Sri Lankan’s action cleared after Chennai lab test.

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017.

PTG 2206-11168.

Sri Lanka seamer Shaminda Eranga has been cleared to return to international cricket after his action was found to legal by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Eranga was first reported after Sri Lanka's Test against England at Chester-le-Street in May last year (PTG 1840-9210, 31 May 2016).  His action was then tested at Loughborough soon after where his bowling elbow was deemed to exceed the permitted 15 degress of bend (PTG 1857-9313, 20 June 2016). 

A recent reassessment of his action in Chennai found it to be within the allowed 15 degrees.  The ICC says though that umpires are "still at liberty to report Eranga in the future if they believe he is displaying a suspect action or that he is not reproducing the action that has been declared legal during this assessment”.  "To assist the umpires in this respect, they have been provided with images and video footage of the bowler’s legal bowling action”.

Aussie player rights to go 'on sale' in India.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017.

PTG 2206-11169.

The commercial rights to Australia’s top cricketers will be on sale to the highest bidder in India from Thursday, but it is the tug of war between sponsors, players and Cricket Australia (CA) at home that is causing the most heat in the contract dispute.  Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) commercial manager Tim Cruickshank, who flies to India on Wednesday to market the rights to the players, said sponsors in Australia have told him they were “collateral damage” in the dispute.  Talks between CA and the ACA are due to restart on Wednesday (PTG 2205-11165, 18 July 2017).

Cruickshank said on Tuesday there was a “lot of interest” in the players from rival sponsors, including car companies keen to undermine Toyota’s arrangements, and more to come.  “The longer this deal drags on and the longer these players stay unemployed, the more aggressive they are going to have to become from a commercial point of view because they’ve got no income”, he said.  Mitchell Starc and Usman Khawaja have new deals with 'Toyota’ rival ‘Audi' and ‘Mercedes’ respectively, while national captain Steve Smith is believed to be in a deal with ‘Mercedes’ (PTG 2204-11162, 17 July 2017).

Every player signed his or her intellectual property (IP) over to the ACA when the majority of them were forced into unemployment at the end of last month and they have been rolled into a body called 'The Cricketers’ Brand’ (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017).  Before that, CA had the rights to deal with its commercial sponsors and promise them access to team images, a situation that enabled it to cut deals with ‘Milo’, ‘XXXX', ‘Qantas', health insurance company ‘Bupa', ‘KFC', the Commonwealth Bank and a host of other key partners.

Cruickshank said: “One of the sponsors referred to themselves as the collateral damage in this dispute and I tend to agree it is hard to look at it any other way.  They are not on the players’ side or the other side. They are stuck in the middle of it all and we are doing everything we can to work with these sponsors.  They are supporters of Australian cricket and we appreciate their support and we want to assist and protect them”.  A Cricket Australia (CA) spokesman said on Tuesday it was engaging with its commercial partners and downplayed reports they were frustrated, but said the situation was not ideal.

Agents and others involved in corporate deals with India around cricket are sceptical about any significant deals being done with 'The Cricketers’ Brand’.  The situation in the domestic market is complicated. The baggy green and the coat of arms on it are CA registered trademarks but the administrators no longer own the players who wore it and will probably wear it again.

Last Friday at the Sydney Cricket Ground one major sponsor tried to shoot promotional material for the summer with a player but had to do shots in and out of the Australian kit in case no deal was done.  ‘XXXX', which is now CA’s ­official beer, has a major promotion coming up for the summer but cannot proceed with shooting images of players for in-store signage while the administrator is in dispute with he players. The beer brand said it was confident a deal would be reached and the campaign would not be affected.

Qantas told The Australian it was “keen to get this resolved soon” and another commercial partner claimed the situation had caused a major trust issue.  A player agent described the situation as a “f…...g nightmare”.  Cruickshank said the players did not want to alienate the sponsors as they would be affecting their own income.  “That is why part of my focus has been with existing CA partners. We believe the commercial framework needs to stay in place as that benefits the players”:, he said. “We understand that, but the bottom line is they are exposed”.

UK PCA confident ahead of England pay talks.

George Dobell.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017.

PTG 2206-11170.

There is presently no likelihood of English cricket suffering the sort of conflict currently being experienced in Australia, according to the chief executive of the UK Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), David Leatherdale.

While the relationship between players and board has descended to an all-time low in Australia, Leatherdale is quietly optimistic that the next pay deal for players in England and Wales can be resolved without undue acrimony. He does accept, however, that there is "a great deal of work to be done" before agreement is reached over how the influx of revenue from the new broadcast deals will be allocated.

There are significant differences between the pay models used in England and Australia. Unlike the Australian model, there is no collective bargaining agreement in England and Wales and no direct link between the board's income and player payment. The England and Wales Cricket board (ECB) does not set the salary of county players, either, leaving that to their individual clubs as long as it fits within a salary cap. The board also retains the ability to put parameters in place via the direct funding agreed as part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with each county.

More than that, though, it seems the relationship between the PCA and the ECB is far less antagonistic than that between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association. Leatherdale holds monthly meetings with Andrew Strauss, the managing director of the England team, and speaks to Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, on a regular basis. It may also be relevant that Harrison, like Leatherdale, is a former professional player.

While the current pay deal for England players will expire at the end of 2019, it seems there is an expectation on all sides that the pay will rise considerably in line with the new broadcast deal which will bring over £UK1 billion ($A1.65 bn) into England cricket between 2020 and 2024. With some centrally-contracted players (those who play in all formats) already earning in excess of £UK700,000 ($A1.15 m) (before appearance fees; those on white-ball deals only earn just over £UK400,000 [$A659, 085]), there is every likelihood that the new deal will see players' contracts worth in excess of £UK1 million ($A1.65 m) a year.

Some tensions are inevitable, though. The costs of the new-team T20 competition will be high - player salaries will have to be high to compete with the Caribbean Premier League, which looks likely to take place at a similar time - while the ECB are set to expand its in-house media operation and ensure the All Stars program, which aims attracting more children to the sport,  is properly resourced and supported (PTG 2080-10533, 21 March 2017). 

The value and nature of the international men's teams' central contracts (as well as their appearance and commercial fees) has been negotiated by the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) since 2001 as a reaction to a serious disagreement between the board and players ahead of the 1999 World Cup. The TEPP board includes lawyers and accountants alongside the likes of Leatherdale, Marcus Trescothick and Joe Root, the current England Test captain. Richard Bevan, a previous PCA chief executive, now filling the same position at the League Managers' Association, is also on the committee. TEPP is not involved in discussions concerning domestic players. 

"I speak to Tom Harrison regularly and have a meeting with Andrew Strauss every month to discuss player's positions and issues”, said Leatherdale. "It's a strong relationship and it is recognised by the ECB how important all players are to the game.  I would like to think we can reach a deal without any of the drama we've seen elsewhere, while still understanding that the PCA's remit and aim is to ensure all our members - both men and women - are suitably rewarded across all levels in relation to the revenue within the game. It is the players who provide the entertainment, who help to inspire others to get involved in cricket and whose willingness to accept and adapt to changes in the structure of professional cricket will be significant in helping the ECB to grow the game at all levels.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,207

Friday, 21 July 2017

 

• Was Taylor's brilliant stumping a No Ball? [2207-11171].

Australia’s loss puts four in contention for WWC final [2207-11172].

• One step forward, two back in cricket pay fight [2207-11173].

• Stand-off over Lord’s development plans [2207-11174].

Was Taylor's brilliant stumping a No Ball? 

Jonny Singer.

MCC Laws Department.

Thursday, 20 July 2017.

PTG 2207-11171.

Here at the Home of Cricket, we’ve been inundated with questions following England men’s Test defeat by South Africa at Trent Bridge last week, and the Women’s World Cup Semi-Final win over the same nation on Tuesday.  In particular, many cricket were left confused about a batsman being out Stumped, with two incidents sparking controversy.

The first flurry of enquiries came in relation to comments made by television commentator Shane Warne during the Test.  With a South African batsman taking guard well outside his crease, and making no hurried attempt to get back into his ground once the ball had passed the wicket, Sky Sports’ commentary team mused about the possibility of a stumping.

Enter Warne, who informed viewers that this wouldn’t be possible – and that, instead, first slip would have to take the ball in place of the wicket-keeper, and run the batsman out.  Warne’s logic, which is not an uncommon misconception, was that as soon as the ball hits the wicket-keeper’s gloves, it is dead, and thus the batsman cannot be Stumped.  Of course, this cannot be true – if it were, few if any of Warne’s 36 Test stumpings would have been given out.

Law 23 (Dead ball) states that the ball is dead ‘when it is finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or of the bowler’ and that it is for the umpire alone to determine when this has happened.  However, what is clear, is that if the wicket-keeper is, without delay, making an attempt to stump the batsman, the ball will not have become finally settled. There is no need for another fielder to get involved, and a stumping is possible – perhaps England should take note.

The second incident that stumped many fans came when Sarah Taylor, England Women’s wicket-keeper, appeared to stump South Africa’s Trisha Chetty, her opposite number.  With the ball fired down the leg side and Chetty out of her crease, Taylor took the ball cleanly and removed the bails in a flash, a breath-taking display of wicket-keeping to leave Chetty well out of her ground.

However, many viewers pointed out, in emails to MCC and on various social media channels, that Taylor, in removing the bails, came in front of the wicket.

Law 40 (The wicket-keeper) states that:  ‘The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until (a) a ball delivered by the bowler, either (i) touches the bat or person of the striker or (ii) passes the wicket at the striker’s end, or (b) the striker attempts a run.’

As the video shows, Taylor took the ball when her gloves, and her entire body, were behind the wicket. Her momentum being forwards, by the time she moved across to dislodge the bails she had part of her glove in front of the wicket.  However, that is not a problem, as the ball had, by that time, already passed the wicket and she was free to move wherever she chose. Had she moved in front of the wicket before the ball had passed, the striker’s-end umpire would have called a No ball, from which a batsman may not be given out Stumped.

Credit must go to both the on-field umpires and the television match official for spotting that distinction, almost impossible to see in real time and difficult even in slow motion, as well as to Taylor for effecting every wicket-keeper’s dream – a leg-side stumping.  These two incidents are a great example of the complexities of the Laws of Cricket – both relating to stumpings, and yet neither are covered directly by Law 39 (Stumped). 

Australia’s loss puts four in contention for WWC final. 

PTG Editor.

Friday, 21 July 2017.

PTG 2207-11172.

With the Womens’ World Cup final now to be between host nation England and India, all four of the umpires who stood in the two semi finals this week qualify as neutrals and are therefore in that sense alone in contention for Sunday’s final at Lord’s, a match that is expected to see a sell-out crowd (PTG 2204-11159, 17 July 2017).  Which of the four, Gregory Brathwaite of the West Indies, Shaun George of South Africa, Ahsan Raza of Pakistan and Paul Wilson of Australia, will get the coveted on-field spot at the home of cricket is expected to be known sometime on Friday.

One step forward, two back in cricket pay fight.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Friday, 21 June 2017.

PTG 2207-11173.

The one step forward, two step backwards nature of the cricket dispute continued on Thursday with confidence an agreement was at hand followed by frustration that ground was again lost.   Australian cricket’s warring parties were moving towards a compromise that would see all future tours go ahead and a revised revenue share model retained while significant funds were directed to grassroots cricket.

The vast majority of Australian cricketers have been unemployed since the start of this month following the inability of both parties to reach a compromise that would allow both parties the ability to boast success of sorts.  Despite tight secrecy around the talks in recent weeks it is understood the impasse had almost been broken and players were to be asked to agree to a new model that would see a large amount directed to grassroots cricket from the players and the administrators. But by the end of the day, the parties appear to have hesitated with agreement in sight.

But the positive signs were the first since negotiations became bogged down at their commencement last November (PTG 1973-9939, 11 November 2016).  It was expected that the current revenue share — in the vicinity of 25 per cent of agreed revenue streams — would be increased as it will cover the female players for the first time in history.

People on both sides of the negotiations remain tight lipped but it is thought that the adjustment ledger which sees players compensated for revenue above projections at the start of the Memorandum of Understanding would come in for some radical refocusing.  The players are currently owed almost $A60 million (£UK36.8 m) from the last five-year period thanks to a huge rise in profits during the period.  Grassroots would be the biggest winner in the new model but both parties will contribute.

One of the major issues aside from revenue share has been that the vast majority of Cricket Australia’s (CA) revenue for the next five years is not locked in. Deals with broadcasters have been pushed back because of the uncertainties and there are no major sponsors for the men’s teams in place (PTG 2188-11090, 3 July 2017). The situation could lead to both parties agreeing to a model that is reviewed when these deals are put in place.

CA has maintained throughout the dispute that the revenue share was finished but the Australian Cricketers Association has insisted the partnership model remain. Sense appeared to have entered the negotiations since CA chief executive officer James Sutherland took a lead role.  Sutherland had previously stuck with the hardline stance handed down from the board, saying the structure of the revenue share model was “untenable for business”.  Sutherland said in a newspaper article written in May: “The model was created in 1997, when players were poorly paid, but now our top male players are easily the most highly paid team sportspeople in Australia” (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).

The dispute has been the most toxic in Australian cricket history, resulting in a historic situation where players are unemployed.  Former quick Mitchell Johnson said this week that the dispute had done damage to the relationship between players and administrators. Former Test opener Ed Cowan made the case for administration to tighten its belt and find the grassroots funding that it had said was at the heart of trying to break the revenue-share model.

Players were presented with a pie chart by CA which said 12 per cent goes to grassroots.  “Match day and catering’’ was 9 per cent, Cowan said.  Saying his comments would likely see him struck from the invite list for future chairman’s lunches, Cowan said there was fat to cut from the largesse enjoyed by the administrators.  “The wine flows, the sponsor’s product, the beef fillet, the Tasmanian salmon comes out — they’re pretty good gigs.  Four hundred bucks a head let’s say — that’s a hell of a lot of Kanga Cricket bats for grassroots".

“Directors flying in for a whole Test match, to go to five days of cricket, all expenses paid, doesn’t sit all that well with me.  I keep saying it’s not about the money … it’s about Cricket Australia wanting power, it’s about them not wanting a check and balance of where they’re spending their money.  If it was about money Steve Smith and David Warner would’ve taken the pay increase and said see you later boys, we’re out of here. It’s about grassroots cricket”.

Stand-off over Lord’s development plans.

Ivo Tennant.

The Times.

Thursday, 20 July 2017.

PTG 2207-11174.

Members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) critical of development plans for Lord’s that were circulated last month are threatening to cause a delay to the special general meeting (SGM) scheduled for September (PTG 2158-10950, 9 June 2017). They have written to the chairman claiming that a review document is not impartial, that more use should be made of the disused railway tunnels at the Nursery End and that it would be better to wait until the club hears from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on whether it will retain two Tests each year (PTG 2159-10956, 9 June 2017).

The requisitionists, who have already successfully staged one SGM over the long-running dispute, believe that the club needs to look again at its own masterplan, which focuses on piecemeal development of Lord’s, and the alternative put forward by Charles Rifkind, who owns the head lease on the tunnels and wants to build apartments above them. They believe that the review document is biased in favour of the club.

MCC chairman Gerald Corbett has told the requisitionists that their views will be considered at the committee’s next meeting. The club’s updated masterplan favours extending the capacity of the ground to 32,000. There is a concern within the committee, however, that the prospective redevelopment at The Oval on the other side of the city, which will take the seating to 40,000 (PTG 2159-10955, 9 June 2017), could result in Surrey staging two Tests a summer instead of MCC.

The original 'Vision for Lord’s', which was abandoned in 2011, proposed increasing the capacity to 40,000. There is some support within the committee for the requisitionists’ view that development beneath the Nursery End could extend beyond parking space for cars and bicycles and the storage of television equipment. The initial intention was to create additional space for an indoor school, kitchens and offices.  The requisitionists, who are led by Thomas Page, a lawyer, have to decide whether to press for a further hold-up in developing the most famous of all cricket grounds.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,208

Saturday, 22 July 2017

 

• One Aussie does make it to South Africa [2208-11175].

• WWC is huge for women's cricket - and about time, too [2208-11176].

• Australian pay talks grind to a halt [2208-11177].

• Jaipur police arrest 14 over match-fixing claims [2208-11178].

One Aussie does make it to South Africa.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 22 July 20127.

PTG 2208-11175.

The Australia ‘A’ side may have pulled out of their tri-series tour of South Africa because of the pay dispute with Cricket Australia (CA) (PTG 2187-11085, 2 July 2017), but one of CA’s senior umpires will still be taking part.  Sam Nogajski, a member of the National Umpires Panel, who went to South Africa on exchange in March last year (PTG 1748-8705, 28 January 2016), is travelling there again this weekend to stand in the series that now features the South African, Indian and Afghanistan ‘A’ sides (PTG 2205-11165, 18 July 2017).

During the nine games, seven of which are one-day and two four-day that are to be played in Groenkloof, Pretoria, Benoni and Potchefstroom, Nogajski will work with South African referees Laurence Matroos, Gerrie Pienaar and Shaid Wadvalla, plus umpires Shaun George, Bogami Jele, Adrian Holdstock, Allahudien Palekar and Brad White.  

The one-day triangular series will see Jele, Holdstock and Nogajski on-field in three games and serving as the third umpire in two others (3/2), while for White its 2/0 and Palekar 1/0.  Appointments for the series final will be made after the six round-robin games have been completed.  Matroos will oversee all of the one-day fixtures.  

After that series, the South Africa and Indian ‘A’ sides will play two four-day games against each other in Benoni and Potchefstroom.  Nogajski will be on-field in  both matches, the first with George and the other with Holdstock, the latter pair serving as third umpires when not on-field. Pienaar and Wadvalla will work as the match referee in the first and second games respectively.

Nogajski is a third umpire member of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel as is Jele, while George and Holdstock, who have been umpiring in the on-goin Womens’ World Cup series in England, are both on-field members.  

WWC is huge for women's cricket - and about time, too.

Scyld Berry.

London Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, 22 July 2017.

PTG 2208-11176.

England Women have played at Lord’s before - and have won World Cup (WWC) finals there twice before, the first in 1973 when the inaugural Women’s World Cup was staged - but neither of those occasions sparked a spectacular growth in women’s cricket.

A victory by England against India on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd might, however, bring about an enduring legacy. Women’s cricket world-wide has evolved in the last decade from amateur to semi-professional to professional - and if there is any parallel with men’s cricket when it went through the same stages of evolution, the future is not only bright but guaranteed to succeed.  The growth of the women’s game faces one specific problem, whether or not England win: the hard ball, even though it is slightly smaller and half an ounce lighter than the men’s. 

To popularise the sport in this country, something else is needed in addition to role-models like Heather Knight and her team, and the funding from the England and Wales Cricket Board: a semi-hard ball that can he used on any surface. If cricket then becomes the game of inner-city girls, many of south Asian origin, its future as England's number one summer sport is assured.

Australian pay talks grind to a halt.

Jon Pierik 

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 21 July 2017.

PTG 2208-11177.

Australian cricket was in crisis on Friday night after pay talks between players and the governing body fell apart.  The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) claimed its proposal to Cricket Australia (CA) to end a nine-month impasse had been dismissed by the governing body (PTG 2207-11173, 21 July 2017). The ACA held an emergency two-hour board meeting on Friday afternoon, and had resolved to continue its fight to retain a pay model it believes is fair.

Australia's professional cricketers, including the women whose run in the Womens’ World Cup has ended, are effectively unemployed after failing to reach an agreement with the sport's governing body.  Players were set to be advised over the weekend why their fight must continue.

CA said on Friday it was shocked by the ACA's claim and had not been formally notified of this position. CA said discussions were progressing, with CA chief James Sutherland and counterpart Alistair Nicholson in telephone and email contact on Friday. CA says it had sent the ACA an agenda for when negotiations reopened in a neutral venue on Monday.

Players have been paid from gross revenue since the original CAP-ACA Memorandum of Understanding was brokered in 1997 but the players say they have offered a "modernised revenue scheme" to CA which had the ability to keep both parties happy.

The fight over how much money should be directed to grassroots cricket also continues (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017). CA says it needs more than $A200 million (£UK121.8 m) over the next five years to help develop the game, support local clubs and deal with the threats from other sports. Players are willing to tip a "significant contribution" due to them into grassroots cricket but major stumbling blocks around the overall plan remain.

By mid-week discussions between the two parties were not progressing at an encouraging rate, despite claims they had been on a "steady" track.  This means next month's Test tour of Bangladesh remains in doubt. The Australia A tour of South Africa this month had already been canned.

At stake is how almost $A450 million (£UK274 m) of money owed to the players is split up.  More than 200 players, including Test stars, have been unemployed for three weeks now, saving CA almost $A2 million in wages. This money will be redirected to grassroots cricket. Players on Friday night said they were united in their fight to remain a "partner" in the sport, and not just an employee.

CA's broadcast partners, Channel Nine and the Ten Network, are growing increasingly worried about securing their own advertising deals for the international season and the Twenty20 Big Bash League, respectively. It is believed that Australian cricket's intricate web of commercial partnerships and related advertising and promotional campaigns will start to come apart should no agreement be reached by mid-August.

In other news, former Australian Test cricketer Stuart MacGill has reached a confidential settlement over his $A2.6 million (£UK1.6 m) injury claim against CA (PTG 2205-11166, 18 July 2017).  MacGill and CA agreed to terms on Friday, avoiding a possible trial from mid-August 14. The two parties had sought mediation.  "We can confirm the case has been dismissed”, a CA spokesman said, but he would not disclose details of the settlement.

Jaipur police arrest 14 over match-fixing claims.

Press Trust of India

Friday, 21 July 2017.

PTG 2208-11178.

Police in Jaipur, the capital of India’s Rajasthan state, arrested 14 people on Thursday they say were involved in fixing Rajputana Premier League (RPL) matches, a regional Twenty20 competition that is being broadcast live on Neo Sports.  Cash amounting to 3.8 million Rupees ($A75,535, £UK46.015) was recovered from those involved. Those arrested are said to include both umpires and players. 

Senior police officials say the RPL, which is being played over a period of 10 days, had been organised with the purpose of making money through spot fixing and match fixing,  The same group was scheduled to organise a cricket league in Dubai in the near future, and they were also involved in fixing matches "in other cricket tournaments”, according to officials. 

Police commissioner Sanjay Agarawal said that they received a complaint from the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) Anti-Corruption and Security Unit about match fixing and betting in the RPL.  According to him: “A total of six teams were participating in the league. The BCCI complaint was specific. It said that two men – Wazir Khan and Bahare Khan – were in Jaipur and they were conniving with the league’s players, organisers and umpires to fix matches. They were paying them for spot fixing”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,209

Saturday, 22 July 2017

(Second edition)

 

• South African appointed to his third WWC final [2209-11179].

• Eden Park likely to host England Test, lights or not [2209-11180].

• Cricket unites Catholics, Anglicans and Muslims [2209-11181].

• How women’s cricket has become a box-office hit [2209-11182].

South African appointed to his third WWC final.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 23 July 20127.

PTG 2209-11179.

Shaun George of South Africa has been appointed to stand in the final of this year’s Womens’ World Cup (WWC) at Lord’s on Sunday, his third such series decider in the last 12 years.  George will be on-field in the final with first-timer Gregory Brathwaite of the West Indies, Australia’s Paul Wilson being the television umpire and Ashan Raza of Pakistan the reserve, another Australian Steve Bernard having overall control as the match referee.  Both George and Brathwaite will be standing in a match at Lord’s for the first timer in front of what is expected to be a capacity crowd (PTG 2209-11182 below).

George, 49, officiated in both the 2005 and 2013 WWC series in South Africa and India respectively and stood in the deciding matches of both, the former event being the last when host country match officials oversaw all WWC games.  A former first class player with Eastern Province and Transvaal from 1986-91, he stood at that level for the first time in November 2004 and currently has 84 such games to his credit. 

A member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel since 2010, a time since in which the world body has appointed him to mens’ series in Ireland, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sunday’ finals will be his 18th Womens’ One Day International (ODI).  In addition to visits to Australia and India on country-to-country exchange, the ICC has elected him to stand as a neutral official in second-tier series such as the Intercontinental Cup (IC) played in Ireland, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe.  

Brathwaite, 47, from Barbados, made his first class debut as an umpire in November 2010 and has gone on to date to stand in 50 such games, six of them being in ICC IC fixtures in Canada, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, plus another two in England and three in Bangladesh whilst on exchange in 2011.  He was also chosen by the ICC to stand in the WWC in India in 2013, the Lord's final being his 25th WODI.

Wilson, 45, played first class cricket for both South Australia and Western Australia over the ten years from 1995-2004, one of his 51 first class games being a Test match.  He umpired at first class level for the first time in November 2009 and now has a total of 49 games at that level.  Fourth umpire Raza, 43, another former first class player, is not a complete stranger to Lord’s, for his debut as a television umpire in a Test coming there in 2010 when Pakistan, who have been forced to play their home matches away from home since the Lahore terrorist attack of 2009, hosted Australia.  Raza was seriously injured in the Lahore atrocity (PTG 381-2022, 5 March 2009).

Bernard, 67, played 29 first class and 8 one-day games for New South Wales from 1970-78, then went on to be a state selector there from 1983-85 and a national selector from 1993-98, after which when he took over as the manager of the Australia team.  He was appointed as a match referee by the ICC in late 2011, and now simultaneously holds a position on Cricket Australia’s match referees panel for domestic cricket in that country.  Sunday’s final is his 25th WODI, eleven of which have been in this year’s WWC event.

Eden Park likely to host England Test, lights or not.

David Leggat.

New Zealand Herald.

Friday, 21 July 2017.

PTG 2209-11180.

Auckland’s Eden Park seems almost certain to host an England Test against New Zealand late next March - but it may not be the hoped-for day-night pink-ball contest.  New Zealand Cricket (NZC) have been waiting on consent from Auckland City Council (ACC) to use the ground's lights on the Sunday of the second Test of the series.  Local planning arrangements state that night-time events must not happen on Sundays, a major hitch given that paying the match outside a weekend is not considered viable (PTG 2144-10879, 24 May 2017).

NZC initially took a position that if they did not get permission for the lights to be used on the Sunday, the Test would be moved to another venue, so keen were they to have an inaugural pink-ball test in New Zealand.  That position has changed, in large part due to the delay from the ACC.  Schedules for the incoming international tours next summer - from the West Indies, Pakistan, the Twenty20 tri-series involving England and Australia, and England - are expected to be released in the next few days.

Time is pressing and, in England's case, they need advice to plan tour groups coming to New Zealand.  It appears NZC are running out of time and are reluctant to put out an itinerary, which then requires change based on the council's consent decision.  The only times Eden Park has had Sunday night lights for sports events were for the 2011 rugby World Cup semi final and final.

Cricket unites Catholics, Anglicans and Muslims.

Mike Pattenden.

The Guardian.

Friday, 21 July 2017.

PTG 2209-11181.

In September 2016, three unique cricket teams played a tournament unlike any other. The hosting side were the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI, a team made up of Anglican vicars. One visiting team, Mount, was composed mostly of Muslim players from Yorkshire. The other, the St Peter’s XI, had come to Birmingham from the Vatican.  The competition – played under the name 'Unity Through Cricket' – had been four years in the making, and the idea for it began at the very top.

Father O’Higgins, manager of the Vatican team, said: “It stemmed from a conversation between Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby a few years ago.  It began about football but soon moved on to cricket”. The head of the two churches agreed that the game was a natural fit for a message of understanding and harmony. “It provides us with a reason to associate and commune with other people from different nations”.

Not long after that conversation, the St Peter’s Cricket Club was established (PTG 1209-5823, 12 October 2013). Its founder, the former Australian ambassador to the Vatican John McCarthy, filled the team with seminarians – trainee priests – from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They played their first match against the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI in September 2015 at the St Lawrence ground in Canterbury – a T20 fundraiser for the churches’ joint fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. The Anglicans won by six wickets and a new competition was established in world cricket (PTG 1676-8229, 31 October 2015).

News of the match caught the interest of the press – and also reached the Mount cricket club, a largely Muslim side from Batley, Yorkshire, established in the 1970s by young immigrant Indians. “We were intrigued by the idea of a Vatican team. We knew they’d visited England once, so we contacted them with the idea of a match in the interfaith spirit”, says the club’s spokesman, Abdul A Ravat. “To our surprise and joy they accepted”.

Better still, the Vatican subsequently invited them to play a game in Rome and a party of 33, including players, wives and supporters, travelled to Italy for a match at the Campanella sports ground.  “It was an incredible experience on a whole range of levels: social, cultural and spiritual”, says Ravat, proudly. “We discovered a great rapport with the Vatican team. We were treated like VIPs, given a tour of the Vatican and the Basilica and dined with the seminarians after the game. And, most important of all, the story went global”.

Plans were laid for a return fixture – and the participants were beginning to realise that there was scope for a larger tournament.  One of its key organisers was Tom Benham, coach-player with the Archbishop’s XI. “I realised there was a narrative here: to use sport to create unity, with cricket as the driver”, he says. “It quickly became evident that there was an opportunity to take the idea beyond a one-off event between Anglicans and Catholics and reach out to other religions, like the Muslim community”.

A St Peter’s XI returned to England to play a triangular T20 tournament featuring the Anglican XI and Mount CC at the St Lawrence ground, Headingly and Edgbaston.  Now plans are afoot to extend the next tournament – tentatively scheduled for 2018 – to feature Jewish, Sikh and Hindu sides. The future looks bright – both for the tournament and the people taking part.

“I’m personally getting a lot out of it”, says Benham, who has since coached the Vatican team in Rome. “I’m learning an awful lot. My desire is always to see people come together. You only have to look at what’s happened recently to see how important any positive initiatives can be and the impact cricket can have is huge. Disunity steals joy, but when there’s unity it’s very powerful”.  “What we’ve started feels incredible”, agrees Ravat. “What we learned from these games is that there is more that unites us than divides us. We want to use cricket specifically as a conduit to articulate that. If we can show that people in sport can get on in the world we live in, that’s got to be a good thing”.

How women’s cricket has become a box-office hit.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Saturday, 22 July 2017.

PTG 2209-11182.

An estimated 100 million people will be watching on TV when England take on India in the Women's World Cup (WWC) final at Lord’s on Sunday, a vastly different situation to that which prevailed in the inaugural women’s World Cup in 1973.

Lynne Thomas, now 77, who played for England from 1966-82 and hit a century in England’s opening match of the 1973 event, said of that series: “We went back to work in between our World Cup fixtures.  I went back to teaching [and] was lucky I got paid time off but some of the others [in the England team] didn’t.  We did have a good following for the time but probably never more than a couple of hundred people were watching out games.

When England take on India in Sunday's final it will be the most watched women’s cricket match in history. As well as the 28,000 who will be at Lord’s, it is estimated that the television audience could top 100 million and the winners will receive prize money of £UK600,000 ($A985,050) between them.  That is up significantly from the $US200,000 ($A269,820, £UK154,820) available at the previous event four years ago (PTG 2124-10767, 5 May 2017).  

A sport that was once seen as an inferior imitation of the men’s game is now taking centre stage. The crowds will rival anything that the men can muster and some of the skills are genuinely pioneering. Sarah Taylor pulled off a leg-side stumping in England’s semi-final that any wicketkeeper in the world would have been proud of (PTG 2207-11171, 21 July 2017), while Nat Sciver, the England all-rounder, has become a sensation thanks to her between-the-legs “Natmeg” shot.

The first WWC was played two years before the first men’s World Cup and was the brainchild of Rachael Heyhoe Flint, the pioneering England captain who died this year, and Sir Jack Hayward. It was only possible because Hayward donated £UK40,000 ($A65,670), which paid for the teams’ travel and hotels.

The tournament was played in a round-robin format between seven teams — England, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, an International XI and young England. England and Australia were so close on points going into the last match, at Edgbaston, that it became a de facto final.  “Even after we won, there wasn’t a great deal of attention on us”, Thomas remembers. “In fact the day after the final we went off to play a friendly match against a rest of the World XI. Then we went back to work”.

It would be five years before the next edition, which was played in India. It nearly didn’t go ahead because of lack of funds and only four teams took part — Australia, England, New Zealand and India — with Australia winning their first of six titles.  It took England 20 years to lift the trophy again, at Lord’s in 1993 when Karen Smithies’s team beat New Zealand by 67 runs having received special permission from Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) to walk through the Long Room to get on to the pitch. It wasn’t until 1999 that women were admitted into the MCC.

“The World Cup nearly didn’t happen”, says Jo Chamberlain, who played for England from 1987-95 and was in the 1993 winning team. “There was no money and it was very close to being cancelled. It was only a very late donation of £UK90,000 ($A147,775) from the then UK Foundation for Sport and Arts that meant it could go ahead”.  Chamberlain was, and still is, a van driver. “Of course there was no pay”, she says. “In fact, it was more like we were paying them. We had to take annual leave from work to play. Some had to take unpaid annual leave because they didn’t have enough holiday”.

“We probably had just over 100 people watching at most of the games and they were mostly friends and family. We did have 5,000 at the final at Lord’s which was staggering at the time.  No one, including our coach and manager, got paid for anything. We would go round the grounds selling chocolate bars trying to raise money.  Money was tight. We shared rooms, our accommodation was basic and we even shared a bus to the final with our opposition [New Zealand]. That would be unheard of in the men’s game”.

Women’s cricket was run separately from men’s cricket by the Women’s Cricket Association (WCA), an organisation formed in 1926 and run entirely voluntarily. It was not until 1998 that the WCA merged with the England and Wales Cricket Association (ECB), unlocking some of their resources.

The WWC of 2009 was the first version of the tournament to be organised by the International Cricket Council. Although there were no full-time professionals, many of the England squad that year were able to earn something of a living by working for the ECB or 'Chance to Shine’ the cricketing charity, undertaking coaching which could fit around training sessions and matches.  But that success quickly drained away. A year ago, England were soundly beaten by Australia in the semi-final of the World Twenty20 and their shortcomings were apparent. The game had moved on and England hadn’t.

In 2014, thanks to the unswerving pressure from Clare Connor, a previous England captain and now head of women’s cricket at the ECB, the team were awarded the first fully professional contracts (PTG 1292-6227, 15 February 2014). On top of that, the ECB came up with the idea of a Twenty20 womens’ Super League which would allow domestic players, who still aren’t paid, the opportunity to earn some money and to try to bridge the gap between the domestic and international game and concentrate efforts on getting young girls playing the game.  All of this has started to pay off. Participation is increasing and will coninue to do so through the ECB’s All Stars program. The Super League, which will return for a second edition next month, has the best players in the world playing in it.

There is, though, still a way to go. There’s still a gulf between those in the England team and those playing county cricket. And even those who do get paid aren’t earning vast amounts. England players can make a comfortable living but it’s a long, long way from what men earn. Knight is earning now what Mike Atherton’s first central contract in 2000 was (around £UK60,000 - $A98,505) while the top men are earning something near seven figures for theirs.

Having said that, there are more opportunities than ever for the women, many of whom are close to being household names, to earn more through sponsorship deals, endorsements and media appearances, so much so that the Professional Cricketers Association has just announced the introduction of a new England Partnerships committee to facilitate pay and endorsement negotiations.  But the start of the professional era — still in its infancy — is beginning to pay off. On the pitch, England are playing a high standard of cricket. With the bat, they are hitting the ball harder and further and playing an innovative and entertaining brand. In the field, there’s also been marked progress.

This World Cup has felt like a breakthrough moment for the women’s game. It has been the best covered and most watched and while there are still, inevitably, comments about the standard — there will be if you try to compare it with the men’s game — generally spectators have recognised how far the game has come.  Forty-four years after the pioneering England team led by Heyhoe Flint lifted the first trophy, Knight will lead her team out in front of a sell-out crowd at the home of cricket.  Players from the 1973, 1993, and 2009 winning teams have been invited to the MCC president’s box for Sunday’s game to see just how much women’s cricket is now a part of the sporting landscape. And it is here to stay.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,210

Sunday, 23 July 2017

 

• Women scorers to the fore in WWC final [2210-11183].

• ACA email to players warns Ashes series under threat [2210-11184].

• Broadcasters confident Ashes, BBL will go ahead [2210-11185].

Women scorers to the fore in WWC final.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 23 July 20127.

PTG 2210-11183.

While the International Cricket Council (ICC) has appointed an all-male umpire and referee panel of five to manage Sunday’s final of the Womens’ World Cup at Lord’s between England and India (PTG 2209-11179, 22 July 2017), in contrast an all-female group of seven have been chosen to took look after a range of scoring duties during the match.  The ICC delegated responsibility for selecting scorers for the 30 matches of the WWC to the UK Association of County Cricket Scorers and the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Association of Cricket Officials (ACO).

The official scorers for Sunday’s final will be Carol Bryant and Lynn Allen, the electronic scoreboard operators Sue Drinkwater and Su Klyne, the manual scoreboard operators Jo Potter and Helen Meardon, and the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Match Manager Sue Jones.

Bryant played for Middlesex women in the 1990s and has recorded the details of Middlesex Premier League fixtures for a number of years, plus Womens’ One Day Internationals (ODI) since 1997.  Allen, has been a scorer in the Northamptonshire Premier League for over two decades, a time during which she has also supported first class and List A level games, the latter including a men’s ODI in that role.   

Drinkwater, the ACO Scorer Education Manager, has recorded the details of men’s ODIs first class, List A, Twenty20, a range of County second XI games, as well as Under-19 Test and ODIs.  In 2013 she was presented with a ECB 'Outstanding Services to Cricket Award’, primarily in recognition of more than three decades spent training scorers, and in 2014 a British Empire Medal for services to cricket as a volunteer (PTG 1377-6662, 19 June 2014).  Klyne, who has recorded the details of mens’ Under-19 ODIs, is the Regional Scorer Officer and tutor for the ACO’s South Central region and the First XI scorer for High Wycombe Cricket Club in the Home Counties Premier League.

Potter and Meardon both score for local clubs and are involved with their respective county setups, while Jones has been a scorer for nearly four decades, a time in which she was First XI scorer for Minor Counties side Berkshire.  She is the ECB’s National Scorers' Officer and sits on the ACO's Management Committee representing the interests of scorers in the recreational game.  She has been part of the team who work on the electronic board at Lord’s  for Tests and mens’ ODIs and Middlesex County games, becoming the first female’ to be included as part of that group back in 2003.  Sue, Sue and Su all sit on the ACO's Scorer Sub-Committee.

In another move to recognised women, 105 year-old Eileen Ash (née Whelan), England’s oldest living former women’s cricketer, will ring the Lord’s bell to signal five minutes before the start of play on Sunday.  Ash, who played seven Test matches for England either side of World War 2, made her Test debut for England against Australia at Northampton in 1937, playing three Tests in all that summer, taking 10 wickets.  She didn’t feature for England again until 1949 when she toured Australia and New Zealand and playing four further Tests.  In 2011, she became the first female Test player to reach her 100th birthday and, in the same year, was awarded Honorary Life Membership by the Marylebone Cricket Club.

ACA email to players warns Ashes series under threat.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 22 July 2017.

PTG 2210-11184.

Cricket's pay talks have taken another unexpected twist – and this time it's left many observers baffled and truly fearing the implications for this austral summer's Ashes series, although others have a more positive view (PTG 2210-11185 below). Australia's cricketers have been warned this Ashes could be scrapped even if a new pay deal is tentatively reached with the game's governing body.  In an explosive email from Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) chief Alistair Nicholson to players on Saturday, he warns the iconic Test series against England, due to begin in Brisbane on 23 November, is under threat.

Negotiations over a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between players, led by Nicholson, and Cricket Australia (CA) have all but broken down (PTG 2209-11177, 22 July 2017), although it can be revealed that an emergency meeting between Nicholson and CA counterpart James Sutherland has been slated for Sunday.

In the email to players Nicholson states: "If there is agreement, the next step would be the more intensive MoU and contract drafting period. Given past experience and the massive detail involved, this would take some time and still may not be completed with time enough to meet the needs of fans, sponsors and broadcasters invested in the upcoming tours and the summer of cricket.  I add that it is hard to conceive of any further flexibility the players could possibly offer in these negotiations”.  CA said it was surprised and perplexed by the ACA's claims but would not comment on key details.

Australia's next series is a Test tour of Bangladesh in August. While the Ashes are almost four months away, much preparation, including broadcast inventory and sponsorship and advertising deals, must be locked in far earlier.  Amid the uncertainty, the England and Wales Cricket Board will also need to be assured the series will go ahead before their team is allowed to leave home shores (PTG 2193-11110, 8 July 2017).

The next MoU is likely to be complex and come in at 700-pages. The players remain frustrated at CA's response to what has been a "terms sheet" the ACA had developed during discussions with CA over the past fortnight. CA is said to have provided a "marked up" response via email on Thursday, questioning, if not rejecting, the players' revenue-model scheme and adjustment ledger and grassroots plans.

Players had thought the two parties had reached common ground since Sutherland finally joined negotiations a fortnight ago after much hankering from the ACA (PTG 2200-11144, 13 July 2017). Discussions had largely been left in the hands of experienced administrator Kevin Roberts. CA, however, has claimed the ACA's terms sheet has suggested players are paid more and less money should go to grassroots. The ACA has rejected that claim.

CA officials are of the belief the ACA had thought CA would ignore the terms sheet and cease talks; instead CA said it would immediately debate the upgraded plans with the ACA. When CA began to point out what it claims were errors in thinking, the ACA is said to have lost patience.  "Contrary to this progress and ACA's attempts to resolve the dispute, on Thursday night the ACA received draft legal wording removing any reference to 'revenue share' in a proposed new Article 5 of the next MoU”, Nicholson said.  "This was unexpected. It has setback negotiations and thwarted the prospects of agreement. The ACA will seek clarification on this as a matter of priority, as it seems to ignore a number of our proposed solutions in the terms sheet”.

Nicholson said the players had offered to modernise the revenue scheme and would contribute $A30 million (£UK18.3 m) to grassroots and club cricket.  "We therefore offered a modernised model including the making of substantial concessions by the players in good faith. Namely, that players would accept a formal mechanism for redistributing amounts of revenue from the players to grassroots cricket via a new Players Grassroots Investment Fund (PGIF)”, he said.  "Dependent on the achievement of revenue forecasts, we have proposed that this would be approximately $A30 m injection from all male, female, international and domestic players. It is a show of the players' respect for growing the game and the next generation of players."

“[The $A30 m] figure has been arrived at as it would match the current offer from CA to direct its proposed administrative cost savings into grassroots cricket (PTG 2159-10951, 9 June 2017), which itself is a welcome contribution from CA”, Nicholson wrote.  Both parties agree to a gender-neutral pay model and the inclusion of women in the one MoU; and back pay be provided to players (who have kept training even though unemployed) and the current adjustment ledger would not be 'rolled over', both of which are, as instructed by you, plainly and rightly non-negotiable".

Players are fighting to be paid the $A29 m (£UK17.7 m) of surplus funds they are owed under the current MoU as part of the adjustment ledger fund. CA wants some of this money to be parlayed into a new deal.  More than 200 cricketers have been unemployed since 1 July. CA has saved $A2 m  (£UK1.2 m) in wages, with this money redirected to grassroots and club level.

Broadcasters confident Ashes, Big Bash League will go ahead.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 23 July 2017.

PTG 2210-11185.

Australian television broadcasters remain confident the Ashes and Cricket Australia’s (CA) Big Bash League (BBL) will go ahead despite claims from the players union the home summer is in jeopardy (PTG 2210-11184 above).  Channel Ten's BBL chief executive David Barham said on Saturday night he did not think cricket's marquee Test series and the growing cash-cow that is the men's and women's BBL would be cancelled because of a pay dispute between players and CA.  "I am confident the Ashes and the BBL will go ahead”, he said.

If the BBL was cancelled, Ten – in the final year of its five-year agreement with CA – could ask for a refund of about $A20 million (£UK12.2 m).  Ten’s broadcast rivals Channel Nine has begun rolling out its Ashes promotional advertising, with commentator and former player Michael Slater having narrated an extended promotion before Thursday night's women's World Cup semi-final.  It's understood a pay deal is needed soon as Nine needs to lock in its inventory before the Ashes series.  Those Tests are the one campaign CA and Nine are guaranteed of turning a profit from – and securing strong broadcast ratings.

The ugly pay spat comes at a time when CA will soon go to market for a new international and domestic broadcast rights deal (PTG 2199-11138, 12 July 2017). CA had originally wanted $A200 million (£UK122 m) a year for all matches.  If the pay deal drags on, it's understood network bosses would have several hard questions for CA, particularly how it intends to rebuild the image of the players.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,211

Monday, 24 July 2017

 

• ICC names match officials for Sri Lanka-India Tests [2211-11186].

• Private Ashes crisis talks aim to end stalemate [2211-11187].

ICC names match officials for Sri Lanka-India Tests.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 24 July 2017.

PTG 2211-11186.

Two Australians, an Englishman and a West Indian have been appointed as the neutral match officials for the three Tests Sri Lanka and India are to play over the next three weeks.  Richie Richardson of the West Indies will be the match referee, while Englishman Richard Illingworth and Australians Bruce Oxenford and Rod Tucker will each stand in two Tests each and serve as the television umpire in another.

Illingworth and Oxenford will be on-field in the first Test in Galle, the two Australians in the second in Colombo, and Illingworth and Tucker in the last game in Palleke.  The series will take Tucker’s Test match record to 55 on-field and 21 as the television umpire (55/21), Oxenford to 43/19 and Illingowrth 31/13.  Richardson will be overseeing his ninth, tenth and eleventh Tests.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has posted details of who the neutral officials will be for the One Day International (ODI) series between the two sides that follow the Tests, however, that listing has since been removed. While Sri Lanka Cricket is yet to announce which members of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, Ranmore Martinez, Ravindra Wimalasiri and Ruchira Palliyaguruge will stand in the ODIs, Palliyaguruge is expected to become the 47th person to stand in 50 One Day Internationals (ODI) during the five-match series.

Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe as the match referee, and ‘Wilson’, presumably Joel of the West Indies and not Paul of Australia, plus Paul Reiffel of Australia, were mentioned as the neutral officials for the ODIs.  Pycroft was to oversee all five games, while ‘Wilson’ will be on-field in the first, third and fifth in Dambulla, Pallekele and Colombo respectively, and Reiffel in games two and four in Pallekele and Colombo, the pair serving as the television umpire when not on-field.

If the appointments actually go ahead, the series will take Pycroft’s ODI record as a referee to 142 matches, Reiffewl to 53 on-field and 32 as the television umpire (53/32), and if it is Joel Wilson, to 46/22.  Palliyaguruge goes into the series on 49/15, Martinez 42/21 and Wimalasiri 8/5.

Private Ashes crisis talks aim to end stalemate.

Chip Le Grand.

The Australian

Monday, 24 July 2017.

PTG 2211-11187.

Having spent 24 hours staring into the abyss of an Ashes summer­ without cricket, both sides of the sport’s bitter pay war have resolved­ to reach agreement before­ it comes to that.  A private meeting between Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Suther­land and his union counterpart Alistair Nicholson on Sunday rebooted negotiations to end a long-running pay dispute that is angering sponsors and broadcasters and being watched closely by the Australian federal government.

Sutherland and Nicholson, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), met for two hours at an undisclosed location­ in Melbourne to salvage talks from a potentially disastrous breakdown.  The ACA, in an email sent to members on Saturday, said CA’s latest demand­s had put at risk future tours and “thwarted’’ attempts to reach an in-principle agreement necessary to protect the Ashes series (PTG 2110-11184, 23 July 2017)­.  A news story posted on CA’s web site on Sunday said that email had resulted in a “conceited crisis”. 

Although there are genuine concerns about whether agreement can be reached in time to enable Australian touring teams to play upcoming Tests against Bangladesh and one-day matches against India, neither side of this dispute had previously counten­anced the loss of cricket’s most enduring fixture - the Ashes.  More talks are scheduled today between the negotiating teams.

It is three weeks since Sutherland returned from International Cricket Council commitments and involved himself directly in the sport’s most damaging dispute since World Series Cricket. In that time, a consensus has emerged that cricketers should continue to receive a share of some of the game’s revenue.  The sticking points are the details­: what revenues the players have claim on, what percentage they will take, what language is used to describe this arrangement and how to quarantine sufficient­ funds to repair local cricket infrastructure, including dilapidated suburban and country clubrooms, practice areas and pitches.

CA believed last week that it had made significant progress towards an in-principle agreement in its discussions with the union.  This abruptly changed on Saturday morning when Nicholson told ACA members CA had nullified any gains by ­removing the phrase “revenue share’’ from a particular clause of the agreement.  “This was unexpected”, Nicholson wrote. “It has set back negotiations and thwarted the prospects of agreement.  These actions would have the effect of taking the negotiations back to ‘square one’, minim­ising the good work and good faith acquired over the last two weeks and again jeopardising upcoming tours”.  By the time of Sunday’s private­ meeting, the ACA had climbed down from the ledge.

In a statement posted on its website, it outlined a six-point “peace plan’’, which confirmed that the union had accepted CA’s revenue forecasts and that players were willing to allocate up to $A30 million (£UK18.3 m) of their share of revenue towards the needs of community cricket.  The ACA is still refusing to entertain a CA proposal to divide $A60 m (£UK36.5 m) owed to men’s players from the last five-year agreement among local cricket, male players and women players, who will be covered­ for the first time by the next agreement.  About half of the money is earmarked for Australia’s men’s Test, One Day International and Twenty20 teams, and recently retired international stars.  CA argues that given that women helped generate revenue in that period through additional sponsorship, they should share in the spoils.

Nicholson said it was “plainly and rightly non-negotiable’’ that this money — the players’ share of above-forecast revenue generated between the 2012 and 2016 financial years — be paid only to the men, as stipulated by the previous agreement.  For the past 20 years, Australian cricketers have drawn their wages from a set share of the game’s gross revenues, with the details renewed every five years in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding, a new version of which will result once CA and the ACA can agree to all the terms.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,212

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

 

• CA finalises match referee line-ups for 2017-18 [2212-11188].

• Senior Aussie politician plays umpire in pay dispute [2212-11189].

• Members told MCC must raise cash to survive [2212-11190].

• Developer plans eight U.S. cricket stadiums costing $2.4 bn [2212-11191].

CA finalises match referee line-ups for 2017-18.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 24 July 2017.

PTG 2212-11188.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) Umpire Educator Bob Parry is stepping down from that role in September to take up the sixth position CA added to its National Panel Match Referees (NPMR) group for the 2017-18 austral summer (PTG  2167-10993, 17 June 2017).  Parry’s appointment comes at the same time CA finalised its newly constituted second-tier Supplementary Panel of referees, a nine-member group that is made up of New South Welshmen Tim Donahoo, Neil Findlay and Ian Thomas, Tasmanians David Johnston and Jamie Mitchell, plus John Biddiss from South Australias and  Western Australian Terry Prue.  The Supplementary group replaces the former State Match Referees Panel (SMRP) which during the 2016-17 season totalled 14 people.

With Parry’s appointment CA now has six on the NPMR:  Steve Bernard, Daryl Harper, Peter Marshall, Parry, Bob Stratford, and David Tallala.  Their line manager, CA Match Referee and Umpire Selection Manager Simon Taufel, also undertook limited higher-level referee duties during the 2016-17 season. NPMR members are “full time individuals”, but CA has emphasised that "the vast majority" of their workload will usually be in the seven months from the first day of September to the end of March.  The group is responsible for supporting and assessing umpiring across all of CA’s competitions, and ensuring it continues to produce "high quality umpires for interstate and international cricket". 

Former Test umpire Harper’s health is currently under a cloud and his availability for the season ahead may not become clear for sometime (PTG 2153-10922, 31 May 2017).  In addition to his CA work, Bernard is also a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier Regional Referees panel. His ICC duties sometimes take him away from Australia or Australian competitions during the September-March period.  Such trips have recently included events in Japan, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates, and more recently England for the Womens’ World Cup where he oversaw play in the final at Lord’s on Sunday (PTG 2209-11179, 22 July 2017). 

Parry, 64, who joined CA as its Umpire Educator four years ago (PTG 1116-5426, 4 June 2013), is a former first class umpire and Umpire Manager with both Cricket Victoria (CV) and the ICC’s East-Asia Pacific region.  He commenced his umpiring career in the early 1990s and was a member of CA's top domestic National Umpires Panel for 11 years from 2001-12.  Melbourne-born Parry made his debut at first-class level in December 1998 and went on to stand in 83 such matches, four of them finals of Australia's domestic first class competition the Sheffield Shield.

As a member of the ICC's second-tier International Umpires Panel Parry worked as the television umpire in 7 Tests, was on-field in 4 One Day Internationals, and another 31 as the third umpire; and there were also 60 other one-dayers, 45 being in Australian one-day competitions, two of those finals, plus three Twenty20 Internationals.  Six years ago he was awarded a CV Umpire Achievement Award for passing the 400 match mark as an umpire across club, interstate and international cricket (PTG 753-3695, 5 April 2011).

Donahoo, Hannam, Prue and Thomas have worked as CA match referees for a number of years, mostly in womens’ interstate matches. Prue is a former Test and One Day International (ODI) umpire, Thomas too stood at ODI level, while Donahoo has refereed List A, womens’ Tests and WODIs, while Hannam has been a referee in womens’ games in recent years.  Biddiss, Findlay, Herft, Johnston and Mitchell, who played an Under-19 Test for Australia, are the newcomers as referees, all except Johnston having worked as umpires in womens’ and other lower-level representative games.  Johnston, who played first class cricket for South Australia 35 years ago, retired earlier this year as the chief executive of Cricket Tasmania after 19 years.

Unlike previous years when referees at that level mostly oversaw fixtures such as state Second XI and womens’ interstate or Womens’ Big Bash League cricket in or near their home cities, the new arrangement, particularly as there is no one from Queensland on the panel, means that some travel will be required.

CA made clear earlier this year that its match referees “must” attend and complete a the three-day Match Referee Accreditation course in Brisbane in mid-September, a program that has been developed over the last six months in order to lift the performance standards of its referees (PTG 2171-11108, 21 June 2017).  After that they will be required to stay on in that city to take part, a few days later, in CA's pre-season National Match Officials Workshop (PTG 2171-11009, 21 June 2017).

In announcing the new panels CA said it also wanted to take the opportunity of "acknowledging and thanking" former SMRP members Rob Dunbar, Matthew Hall, Bill Hendricks, Terry Keel, Roy Loh, Richard Patterson, Kim Perrin, Graham Reed, Bill Ruse, and Richard Widows "for their contribution and service".

Senior Aussie politician plays umpire in pay dispute.

Chip Le Grand and Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Monday, 24 July 2017.

PTG 2212-11189.

An Australian Federal Government Minister has intervened in the cricket pay dispute to urge both parties to reach a compromise and end the damaging stand-off as quickly as possible.  With the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) indicating for the first time that the summer’s Ashes series may be at risk if a new wages agreement cannot be struck (PTG 2211-11187, 24 July 2017), Sports Minister Greg Hunt contacted ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson to make clear the government’s concerns.  It is understood that he also delivered a similar message to Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland last week.  Two months ago Hunt said the government would be prepared to step in and provide "good officers" for mediation between the two groups (PTG 2150-10910, 29 May 2017).

A government spokesman said: “The Minister has spoken with both parties in the cricket dispute.  He has urged both sides to resolve it as a matter of priority and to show flexibility”.  In May, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard called for "common sense" to prevail in the dispute (PTG 2146-10894, 26 May 2017).  It is understood the ACA is considering a revised offer from CA aimed at removing the impasse.  Sutherland and Nicholson held private talks on Sunday and further negotiations are understood to have proceeded on Monday.  Both sides of the dispute agree that an in-principle agreement must be reached in time to protect this summer’s Ashes series.

Australia's Test squad for Bangladesh assembled in Sydney on Monday in a reminder of how close the pay war is running to the deadline for the tour to go ahead.  Captain Steven Smith, his deputy David Warner and all other playing members of the touring party either met in person or dialled in for an update on pay talks from Nicholson, player liaison officer Simon Katich and ACA executive member Shane Watson.  Over about two hours they were briefed on events of the past week, from discussions between Nicholson and Sutherland and the "peace plan" submitted by the ACA, to CA's apparent pushback and the subsequent meeting between the two on Sunday. 

Reports say senior players voted to attend the training camp in Darwin starting on 10 August but will not get on the plane seven days later unless an agreement is reached with CA. They discussed a range of options including attending the tour under a special contractual arrangement but resolved to stand by the resolutions reached at their meeting on 2 July and refuse to partake in any tours unless there is a new Memorandum of Understanding in place (PTG 2187-11085, 2 July 2017).  Players are entering their fourth week of unemployment since the failure to reach a new enterprise bargaining agreement at the end of June.

Members told MCC must raise cash to survive

Ivo Tennant.

The Times.

Monday, 24 July 2017.

PTG 2212-11190.

Lord’s could face seasons without Test cricket so cash reserves must be built up to ensure the survival of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), according to Keith Bradshaw, who left his position as the club’s secretary and chief executive in 2011.  The growth of Twenty20 cricket, differences between players and administrators — as is happening in Australia — and an uncertain future international program are all factors that could mean the club could miss out on revenue from international fixtures.

In his first comments on the administration of Lord’s since leaving to take up a role as chief executive of the South Australian Cricket Association, Bradshaw has advised MCC members that, although his preference would be for the implementation of full-scale redevelopment, as set out in the abandoned ‘Vision', they should vote at the club’s special meeting in September for the 'Morley Plan', which would provide a capital injection of £UK135 million ($A221 m) through building apartments at the Nursery End (PTG 2172-11017, 22 June 2017).

“What if we have a year with no international cricket owing to T20 and who knows what else? MCC would need cash reserves to survive”, he said. “It is imperative to have financial stability. Cricket is always changing and the debate over one or two Tests at Lord’s continues. With the world in turmoil perhaps even no Test is something that could arise. Therefore [the club needs] a legacy that provided financial security, even if there was limited cricket played, through a strong balance sheet and expanded commercial activities outside of cricket by leveraging the gift of real estate".

“I have often wanted to post comments on the members’ Online Pavilion but have resisted until now. I do not feel it appropriate for a former secretary to weigh into contentious debates. It seems, however, that my silence has been misinterpreted in some areas. Underpinning the redevelopment plan was the desire to provide a world-class outcome for future generations. The playing surface and pitches under Mick Hunt were superb. However, the facilities for members and the public were becoming tired".

“Whilst MCC is foremost a cricket club which has a global role as the guardian of the Laws, as a sporting venue Lord’s is in the entertainment industry. It is therefore incumbent on us to provide a world-class experience, world-class comfort and value for money for all guests. After spending years working on the ‘Vision for Lord’s’ I thought it was a magnificent plan. I am also attracted to the Morley Plan for the same reasons”.

Bradshaw described the decision that the members will make over redevelopment as one “for generations to come”. MCC’s committee met on Monday to decide whether to recommend the Morley Plan, put forward by a developer who owns the head lease on the disused railway tunnels at the Nursery End, or its masterplan, which is to finance the rebuilding of stands and other facilities from its own money (PTG 2189-11095, 4 July 2017).

Developer plans eight U.S. cricket stadiums costing $2.4 bn.

Barbara Eldridge.

Curbed.com

Monday, 24 July 2017.

PTG 2212-11191.

Development company Global Sports Ventures is making a play to woo Americans over to the traditional English game. They’re teaming up with the real estate firm JLL to build professional cricket stadiums in eight cities in the United States in the hopes of establishing the sport as a new professional league on par with the National Football League or Major League Baseball. The stadium developments alone have an estimated cost of $US2.4 billion ($A30.3 bn, £UK1.84 bn).

The teams and cricket stadiums are likely to be located in California, Washington, DC., Georgia, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and New York or New Jersey—regions where cricket “already has an established following”.  The league is set to launch in 2020—an ambitious timeline considering the stadium work required. Every cricket stadium in the franchise has a projected cost of $US70 to $US125 million  ($A88-158 m , £UK54-96 m) and will include a cricket pitch, parking lots, and club house. Additional mixed-use developments at each site—such as retail, restaurants, hotels, offices, and even residential space—will cost another $US80 to $US100 million ($A101-126 m, £UK61-77 m).

Though cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world, it’s gained relatively little traction in North America compared to the rest of the globe.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,213

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

 

• WWC final watched by record TV audience [2213-11192].

• Compromise offers suggest pay war peace may be closer [2213-11193].

• Pregnancy clause removed as MoU edges towards gender equality [2213-11194].

• Empty WWC final seats at Lord’s upset some MCC members [2213-11195].

• MCC move to reject Lord’s Nursery End flats plan [2213-11196].

• Cricketers caught out by a case of mission creep [2213-11197].

WWC final watched by record TV audience.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017.

PTG 2213-11192.

The Women’s World Cup (WWC) final between England and India at Lord’s on Sunday was watched by a record 1.1 million people in the UK on Sky Sports — the highest viewing figures in that country for any women’s cricket match and a larger audience than a Premier League football match attracts on average.  The figure is 400,000 higher than for the Champions Trophy final between India and Pakistan last month, which had an average audience of 612,000, and three times that of the final day of the Lord’s Test match between England and South Africa this month, which peaked at 370,000. Premier League football matches can peak at about 3.5 million but the average over the season is just under a million.

The global television audience for the final, which was substantially boosted by the presence of India, is likely to make it the most-watched women’s cricket match ever. Official viewing figures will not be released by the International Cricket Council (ICC) until later this week, but early