Bowling fast and teasing the Poms
Former Australian cricketer Nathan Bracken discusses tactics to stop English batsman Kevin Pietersen from being a threat in the Adelaide Test.PT5M24S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2yogp 620 349 December 3, 2013
Australia's star cricketers are considering dipping into their own pay to fund some of the solutions to the game's problems in this country, as some believe Cricket Australia is not doing enough to address the issues facing the sport.
As Australia celebrates returning as a force in the Ashes, the players' union is pushing ahead with a state-of-the-game report that tackles their concerns about the sport's health down to grassroots level.
The Australian Cricketers' Association canvassed the views of Test players in Brisbane before the series against England began, and is continuing a series of state-by-state roadshows with former players, and is on track to hand its report to Cricket Australia before the end of this month.
Test players were canvassed over the proposal in Brisbane prior to the first Test. Photo: Getty Images
It is understood that concern among players over a raft of issues - from the schedule to coaching and the strength of pathway competitions - runs so deep that they have discussed offering to sacrifice a portion of money from the player-payment pool to help fund some of the solutions proposed in their report, provided they meet certain criteria. The idea, which would have all cricketers on state and national contracts make a contribution from the payment pool, still has to be approved by the players, but it is understood to have support within the national team. Players receive between 24.5 and 27 per cent of Cricket Australia revenue under a performance-based model in their most recent pay deal.
The Test team's powerful start to the Ashes at the Gabba has instilled fresh optimism, but players are adamant that an improvement in results should not paper over the cracks laid bare during heavy series defeats in India and England this year.
The ACA wants its report to remain confidential while it works with CA on the solutions. Australian cricket has never been in a better financial position to tackle them, and to strike back against the football codes by investing in grassroots cricket, having signed a record domestic media-rights deal worth a total of $590 million with the Nine and Ten networks.
In the ACA's October newsletter, chief executive Paul Marsh set out the reasons for the players compiling their own answer to the Argus report, which the union believes did not go far enough. He singled out the overemphasis on Twenty20 cricket, injury management, player development, leadership and governance.
''Rather than sit back and hope that things will turn themselves around, the ACA has embarked on a project to understand what our members' views of the problems are and how they can be fixed,'' he wrote at the time.
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting was recently critical of the governing body for not investing enough when the team was winning, and felt many of his concerns were glossed over in his interview for the Argus report. ''I just think we have been so far behind a lot of other sports in Australia with the way we look at things it's not funny. The Australian cricket team is behind every single AFL club, even the ones with no money,'' the North Melbourne supporter said in October.
Cricket Australia countered by saying it had doubled its spending on the national team in the past six years. ''But we're also aware that just throwing money at the issue doesn't solve all the problems,'' chairman Wally Edwards said at Cricket Australia's annual general meeting. ''Systemic change, recommended in the Argus report … [is] also very critical to where we're going on the field. You might say we're at half-time [in implementing the Argus reforms] and we're looking forward to a pretty strong third quarter, I would hope, in the coming year.''