A call by Kevin Pietersen for the ICC to bankroll contracts for Test players around the world to ensure they are not lost to Twenty20 cricket has been endorsed by Jason Holder, captain of the West Indies, whose players all earn less than even the lowest-paid member of the Australian team.
England discard and Big Bash star Pietersen made the suggestion after a series of recommendations to strengthen the Test arena were made by Australian Cricketers' Association president Greg Dyer and revealed by Fairfax Media.
Among Dyer's suggestions in the ACA's annual report was for "substantial prize money for every game of Test cricket so that the majority of players' income is delivered by playing that form of the game".
Pietersen had a similar argument, saying it was "sad state of affairs" that the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell were starring in the BBL while their compatriots were being thrashed in a Test series, insisting "something has to be done for Test cricket to survive".
Holder, the young touring captain, knows only too well about the gulf in earning capacity not only been the Australians and the West Indians but also between his teammates and Gayle and co, who can make a far more lucrative living on the T20 circuit. The Caribbean side aborted a tour of India before it was completed in 2014 over a pay dispute, leaving the Board of Control for Cricket in India claiming $65 million in losses.
Asked about Pietersen's call for the ICC to ensure top players were not lost to T20, Holder said: "I think it's possibly a way to keep [Test cricket] alive. Obviously we're in a situation where the money isn't great for us at the moment and we've been in numerous battles for that but that's beyond our control at this present time.
"At the end of the day hopefully somewhere along the line we can have an increasing pay and be paid a little bit better than at the moment.
"I think we need to strike a balance, and I'm not knocking T20 cricket because I love T20 cricket myself, but we just need to find a way where the country comes first and then we are flexible in terms of allowing people to make money outside of international cricket.
"I don't think we should be playing hardball and deny people from going and playing, but there has to be a situation where we make international cricket our first priority. I think once we get to that stage the players will buy in."
While the West Indies players in the BBL can pick up between $65,000 and $120,000 for six weeks' work in the BBL Holder and his teammates are on central contracts worth between $US100,000 ($137,000) and $US140,000 ($191,500). The leading Australians, such as Steve Smith, meanwhile, earn more than $1.5 million a year from Cricket Australia while the lowest paid centrally contracted players, such as the recently upgraded Peter Siddle and Usman Khawaja, are on at least $250,000.
Making matters are paltry fees for the West Indians of $US5000 ($6800) per match, which are less than half what the Australians collect for each Test at home ($15,450) and overseas ($21,631).
On the eve of the New Year's Test, Holder also defended his captaincy in the face of criticism from the likes of Ian Chappell and responded to questions about his tactics by saying he could only set attacking fields if his bowlers were up to it.
"Our bowlers have to control the game, we can only set fields on what we have been producing and we haven't been at our best so far," Holder said. "Once we are more disciplined in our bowling then we can set the fields and bowl to them a lot better than we have."
While Australia will field two spinners at the SCG the tourists will have to rely on part-timer Kraigg Brathwaite as back-up to Jomel Warrican, with wrist spinner Devendra Bishoo unavailable with a shoulder injury.
West Indies (likely): Chandrika, K Brathwaite, Bravo, Samuels, Blackwood, Ramdin, Holder (c) C Brathwaite, Roach, Taylor, Warrican.