Oz cricket dispute is over at last
There won’t be any changes to the starting 11 unless he’s 100 percent fit for the fourth and final Test match
MELBOURNE: Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association announced they had agreed a new pay deal “in principle” yesterday, finally ending an acrimonious dispute that threatened a tour of Bangladesh and this year’s Ashes series.
The previous five-year collective bargaining agreement expired on June 30, which had left about 230 players effectively unemployed and forced the cancellation of Australia’s A tour of South Africa.
The immediate repercussions of the deal are that two Tests in Bangladesh will now go ahead in August and September with the Australia squad scheduled to gather in Darwin next week for a pre-tour camp.
“In announcing this agreement we are restoring certainty, beginning to repair relationships, especially with the fans,” Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said.
“We want the focus to be back on the cricket ... I’m very confident by the time the first ball is bowled this summer all of this will be well and truly behind us.”
Both the board and the players’ union were bruised in the tortuous 10-month negotiation, but ultimately the deal represents an emphatic win for the players and a huge back-down by the board.
Cricket Australia had tried to jettison a 20-year-old model under which players receive a fixed percentage of revenue, saying it was unfit for modern times and starving the grassroots of funding.
The players, though, were adamant the arrangement should be retained and it survived in the “heads of agreement”, the deal put in place while the broader Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is hammered out over the next four to six weeks. A tiredlooking Sutherland declined to say whether the deal was a win for the players, but insisted it was a win “for the game” that would allow greater investment in the grass-roots.
“It’s a very different revenue-share model to what was previously the case. It’s been modernised to allow the game more flexibility,” he said.
“Neither side has got everything we wanted out of these negotiations, but they shouldn’t be approached with a winner takes all mindset. In that spirit, I think we’ve reached a good compromise.”
Nicholson said players would share up to 30 percent of agreed revenue consisting of 27.5 percent of forecast revenue streams and a 2.5 percent performance pool.
Sutherland said both parties regretted that the dispute had become a turn-off for fans and Nicholson left little doubt there was still some bad blood between the players and the board. – Reuters
WHEN it comes to playing the percentages, South Africa’s skipper Faf du Plessis is quite specific about Vernon Philander – it’s 100 percent or bust.
Philander and percentages have dominated the second half of this Test series with England. A 50 percent Philander, said Du Plessis after the defeat at The Oval, is still better than most bowlers.
Philander’s own assessment of his performance in the third Test was that he operated at between 70 and 80 percent of his usual intensity. Du Plessis said yesterday that Philander would undergo a fitness test.
Following an ankle injury at Lord’s – he also got hit on the supporters as well. Few would have guessed it would be so. When Johan Ackermann took over as head coach at the latter part of 2012, there were many a furrowed brow and shrugging of shoulders.
Who was this untested, unheralded unknown replacing the coaching leviathan that was John Mitchell, foretold back then as the chosen one who would lead the union to the resplendent glory days of old?
To be sure, Ackermann’s exploits as a player were well recorded.
Those days saw him represent the Bulls, Lions, Cats, Sharks and Northampton Saints, while he made 13 appearances for the Springboks. Early in his career, he was also shamed by being banned for two years after testing positive for anabolic steroids in the late 90s. KEY MAN: Vernon Philander faces a fitness test before the fourth Test against England starting today as he has a back issue. hand – he picked up that viral infection at The Oval and now, ahead of the fourth Test, he’s got a “tight back”.
A bit like the Manchester weather – when it comes to Philander’s fitness, it never just rains ...
Where the percentages arise again for Du Plessis is the difference between a 100 percent Philander and a 90 percent Philander.
“Vernon at 100 percent fit means we can look at playing three seamers and play seven batters. Vernon at 90 percent doesn’t mean you can play three seamers because you don’t want to be in a position where you have a seamer break down and then you only have two, because that is basically the Test match over right there.”
South Africa took a massive risk with the 50 percent version of Philander at The Oval and it backfired – with the series on the line that’s a mistake they don’t want to make here.
If Philander comes through at 100 percent, then Theunis de Bruyn will return to the starting side, most likely in place of Chris Morris – if Philander is only at 90 percent, expect the same side that played the last two Tests to start today.
Du Plessis doesn’t feel that the team requires the same number of changes as occurred following the defeat at Lord’s. Between the first Test and the match at Trent Bridge, South Africa made three changes in personnel and moved Quinton de Kock from No 7 to No 4.
“The changes we made from the first Test were in areas where I felt we were a little bit short. Obviously we changed from seven batters to four seamers which was new for us as a Test team. And then it worked really well in the second game and in the previous game didn’t work as well as we would have liked. I understand that that change is in its infant stages, it’s really really new to the team, we’ve been playing seven batters and three seamers for the last three years, which worked well.”
Philander is central to the South African team now, not just because of his supreme ability with the new ball, but also his batting.
In a starting team with a six-five batsmen bowler split, he fills the No 7 spot and his runs are almost as important as wickets. Of course if Morris starts then Du Plessis has to make do with some inconsistency, although he’d like the gap between Morris’s good showings and his bad ones to shrink.
“We are a team that is still searching for the perfect combination. I’ll be very honest, we are not there yet, we are still looking for our strongest 11.”
Whatever the balance of the team however, South Africa’s batsmen need to show a drastic improvement if this final Test is to be won.
“As a batting unit we understand what we need to do. It’s just about making sure you get a start in bowling-friendly conditions, where it’s always a bit harder. Once you get in it’s really important to take that score from 20 or 30 to 120.”
The weather is expected to be a major player in this final Test too. For the first day the forecast is mostly good, but rain has been predicted for various stages of the match.
“With the weather like this, it speeds up play a bit because there is a lot more happening. Even if there is a bit of rain around and it becomes a fourday game, I think there will still be enough for both teams to get a result.”