Opportunities to be embraced after an interesting time for cricket

22 June, 2020
By Shane Watson, ACA President

To put it mildly, cricket has had an interesting couple of weeks. Amongst it all, one critical development was easy to miss.

Cricket Australia revealed Australia’s primary domestic cricket competitions, the Sheffield Shield and Women’s National Cricket League would be protected and promoted.

This means the Shield and WNCL are confirmed as the pinnacle of Australian domestic cricket – the true domestic high-performance environment for our professional cricketers.

This is welcome news, pushed for by both the States and the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

More than that, it is brilliant news for the game.

It means that men and women cricketers know they are playing both for their States and for the opportunity to play for Australia in an authentic competition with the full support and backing of Cricket Australia. This sends a loud and clear message to every professional cricketer in Australia – that, domestically, performance in the Shield and the WNCL matters the most. Runs and wickets through the traditional pathways are the ticket to the top.

Importantly, this message that will resonate all the way through to cricket fields across Australia – to club players wanting to crack the Shield and WNCL, and to every young cricketer playing for their local team.

For the last five years, the creeping suggestion has been that the Shield and WNCL were ‘cost bases’ to be reduced rather than investments to be nurtured and that money should instead be spent on new or other pathways. To be polite, it is wrong to think that facing a ball machine at 150kph is the same as facing James Pattinson or Tayla Vlaeminck out in the middle.

Players celebrate domestic schedule improvements

Male and female players have applauded the improvements in the 2019-20 Domestic Schedule, with key priorities of players considered and included as part of the 2019-20 schedule.

It was a trend built on the dangerous idea that performance matters less than potential. It is an idea that is hopefully now gone for good.

The ACA also welcomes the reconsideration of CA’s planned cuts to State grants and cricket revenue forecasts. As expressed by the ACA and our Chairperson Greg Dyer, the cuts and reforecasts were premature. They needed to be rethought and it is good that they are.

Regarding Greg Dyer, there were some absurd reactionary whispers this week and picked up in the media that just as CA’s CEO has resigned, so should Greg move on from the ACA.

What nonsense.

And so, a few truths about Greg.

Over the last eight years working with him on the ACA Board, I have observed a super impressive guy with an incredible business knowledge and a huge focus on good corporate governance. His perspective is always on point and with the players’ wellbeing and the health of the game of cricket at heart.

I will let his record speak for itself.

For Greg, protecting the Shield and WNCL and State cricket from unnecessary cuts and the players from unreasonable CA revenue reforecasting was the latest in a long line of achievements for cricket. Greg also stood with our other Board members to protect the women’s WBBL from cuts at a time that the women’s game must be looking to launch from its World Cup success.

Greg has led the ACA in advocating for and won a gender equity pay model and the removal of contractual differences for women cricketers.

He campaigned for and modernised a revenue sharing pay model which was under threat and has since placed cricket in a better position than any other sport in Australia to deal with the impacts of Covid-19; for men and women to be in one MOU for the first time in history; for a $30 million player-funded grass root cricket fund; and for an Australian Cricket Council based on an ACA proposal to CA’s cultural review.

Behind the scenes in the ACA Board meetings, ‘GD’ is a pillar of strength and wisdom across all facets of the business and for me personally, I continue to learn an incredible amount from him about skills needed outside of cricket that will help me greatly as I move into the next phase of my life.

These are facts the public record needs to show.

So, in an odd week for cricket, perhaps the most bizarre suggestion was that someone so selfless, forward thinking and consistently proven to be correct, time and time again, should consider their position. I look forward to working with him as we look to cricket’s next challenges.

The ACA also welcomes the CA Interim Chief Executive Nick Hockley.

Nick is highly credentialled and did an outstanding job as the CEO of the T20 World Cup local organising committee culminating in the women's T20 World Cup in February and March.

Welcome Nick. The ACA looks forward to working with you as partners. That is what we ask for – to be treated as partners. We offer and seek respect, good faith and professionalism.

And we urge Nick and CA to remember there is so much to be positive about in cricket. And that the cricket community can confront and overcome the impacts of the pandemic with good will and a coherent plan.

So, in a week when cricket was on the front pages for the wrong reasons and with some hard days and tough decisions ahead, there is also some good news and fresh opportunities to be embraced... and an exciting summer of cricket to prepare for.

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And the one thing that no-one can forget is that Greg’s generosity and time that he gives to the game that he loves is offered as a volunteer, while holding down a full-time CEO role.

These are facts the public record needs to show.

So, in an odd week for cricket, perhaps the most bizarre suggestion was that someone so selfless, forward thinking and consistently proven to be correct, time and time again, should consider their position. I look forward to working with him as we look to cricket’s next challenges.

The ACA also welcomes the CA Interim Chief Executive Nick Hockley.

Nick is highly credentialled and did an outstanding job as the CEO of the T20 World Cup local organising committee culminating in the women's T20 World Cup in February and March.

Welcome Nick. The ACA looks forward to working with you as partners. That is what we ask for – to be treated as partners. We offer and seek respect, good faith and professionalism.

And we urge Nick and CA to remember there is so much to be positive about in cricket. And that the cricket community can confront and overcome the impacts of the pandemic with good will and a coherent plan.

So, at a time when cricket was on the front pages for the wrong reasons and with some hard days and tough decisions ahead, there is also some good news and fresh opportunities to be embraced... and an exciting summer of cricket to prepare for.

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The Australian Cricketers’ Association acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.