Grassroots cricket needs up to $30 million immediately and much more in the long run if the game is not to wither in Australia, says Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland.
Speaking on the ABC's 7.30 Report, Sutherland said an audit had shown that cricket was lagging in numbers, especially girls, and facilities. "I'm a coach of an under-13 cricket team. I know and understand the challenges that cricket clubs face," he said. "We've identified that we need $20-30 million a year to really make a difference. On the facilities side, we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars."
This was why CA wanted to modify its revenue-sharing agreement with players, leading to an impasse that has become a crisis for the sport. "We don't want to entirely abandon it, but we do want to modernise it ... in the interests of the whole game," Sutherland said. "We believe the model has served a purpose where previously the players were not well paid. They are well paid now. We're pleased about that ... but we have this responsibility to grow the game in the grassroots."
Sutherland said players' pay still would increase under the proposed arrangement, from $79 million to $91 million. He was frustrated by the players' association refusal to talk. "We have a very strong and generous offer on the table and we haven't sat down to talk about it," he said. "It's over two months now since we put that offer on the table and I don't see why we haven't had one single conversation about it. We're increasingly concerned that the players association isn't acting in the players' interests."
The present memorandum of understanding expires on June 30. Sutherland said he was confident that despite the "colour and movement" that always attended CBA negotiations, a deal would be done. "We are very clear in our view that once we sit down with the ACA, we'll gain momentum very quickly," he said.
Sutherland said he rejected the characterisation of CA chairman David Peever, formerly head of Rio Tinto, as a "union buster".
"When it comes to cricket, he's first and foremost a club cricketer," Sutherland said.