Australia’s vice-captain David Warner has underlined the willingness of the nation’s top players to go without employment in order to achieve the retention of the fixed revenue percentage model at the heart of the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association.
Less than two weeks remain before the expiry of the current MoU, with CA and the ACA making very little progress in talks over how to reach a compromise on the next deal. CA is adamant in its desire to break up the revenue sharing model and fix the wages of all but the top male and female players.
Warner, who has been the most outspoken critic of the board in recent weeks after the chief executive James Sutherland threatened they would be left unemployed if the ACA did not agree to CA’s terms, told Channel Nine that the players were committed to ensuring all cricketers shared in the game’s upside, not just an elite few.
“We’re prepared as players to give a little bit more in that revenue share [percentage],” he said of the ACA’s proposal to reduce the players share from around 26% to 22.5% with more money to go to grassroots levels. “But that’s what we want. We’re not going to budge from the revenue sharing model, we want equality, and a fair share for domestic and female players. That in a nutshell is what it’s all about.
“We’ve been offered contracts and we’ve knocked them back. That’s because we want to make sure the female players and domestic players are in this revenue share model. In the decades that have gone past, the past players that have been in our situation have stood up for us. I was a domestic player, I was a young kid coming through, we’re doing the same as what they did as well.”
CA last week named a squad for the scheduled Test tour of Bangladesh in August, but Warner stated bluntly that there would be no players boarding the plane for the series if no agreement had been reached. He also reiterated his view that the Ashes, too, would be threatened by a lengthy dispute.
“From our point of view I want to play for Australia and so do the other boys,” Warner said. “But if there’s nothing that’s put in place for what we’re trying to achieve here, from both point of views, we’re not going to tour Bangladesh, there might not be an Ashes if we don’t have an MoU.
“We want to keep playing cricket for Australia, that’s our goal. If there’s no cricket in summer, what are we going to do? We’re going to be locked out. Where do we train? They can lock us out from all the different training facilities. It’s going to be disappointing if it comes to that, we want to keep playing for Australia. But if we don’t have the MoU done, it’s going to be hard for us to walk on that plane come Bangladesh.
“From July 1, we’re unemployed. We’ve been threatened with that. We’re hopeful there’s going to be an agreement done — it’s a sticky situation.”
There has been a contrast in Warner’s outspokenness next to the more measured words of the national team captain, Steven Smith. Warner said he was happy to stick his head above the parapet on the issue, though admitted Smith could perhaps also be more vocal as the days tick down to the MoU expiry.
“From where I stand and the position I take on this, I try to take as much heat off [Smith] as possible. He does lead us on the field, and rightfully so off the field as well, he does a great job,” Warner said. “In this circumstance I’m willing to go out there into bat for everyone. Yeah sometimes he could probably push a little bit more, but I think he’s doing a great job, as well as the other players like Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood as well.”
Talks between CA and the ACA are expected to continue this week.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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