Australia cricketers refuse to rule out England tour boycott

ACA chief Paul Marsh said any strike would be “an absolute last resort” Getty Images

Melbourne: Jun 4, 2012

Australia cricketers have refused to rule out boycotting their ODI tour of England next month if the stalemate in the new pay negotiations is not resolved by June 30 deadline.

The cricketers were mulling to go on strike during the one-day tour of England scheduled to be held from June 29-July 10 or the World Twenty20 at Sri Lanka in September-October after negotiations between the players’ union and Cricket Australia hit a stalemate over a new five-year deal.

Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) chief Paul Marsh, however, said any strike would be “an absolute last resort”.

Marsh said Australia’s participation in the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September could be under threat, along with Australia’s one-day international tour of England in June-July.

“You can’t rule anything out. I don’t want this to sound like the players are all preparing to go on strike because that’s not the case at all,” Marsh was quoted as saying by Melbourne’s SEN Radio.

“That type of action is an absolute last resort,” he added.

Talks between the ACA and CA have so far failed to resolve the issue of the players’ share of cricket revenue, which has become the major stumbling block to a new memorandum of understanding (MoU).

“If Cricket Australia don’t want to do that, then we’re forced with a decision to make. We either accept the position that they put forward or we look at what our other options are,” Marsh said.

One issue that has held up discussions has been the move to a performance-based player payment model. The major point of contention is the make-up of the cricket revenue pool, which includes revenue streams such as media rights, sponsorships and gate takings, from which Australia’s players receive a 26 per cent cut.

Marsh said CA wanted a sliding-scale deal on the back of what came out of the Argus Review last year.

“That would see the potential for the players to earn less than 26 per cent if their performances fall below a certain benchmark but more than 26 per cent for performances that go above that benchmark,” Marsh said.

“Cricket Australia is basically trying to take certain revenue streams that we’ve got for the last 15 years out of that pool. Their rationale is that they’re low-margin revenue streams and therefore it’s not affordable for cricket to keep giving players 26 per cent of those,” Marsh said.

“We’ve always just put them all into a pot and bundled them together and we’ve come up with an amount at 26 per cent. That’s where there’s a fair bit of angst from us,” he said.

“We’re not asking for anything more than we’ve currently got but at this stage they’re not prepared to do a deal on that basis.” (PTI)