Plans for a Women’s Big Bash in Australia over the (Antipodean) summer of 2015/16 look to have descended into a bitter three-way pile-on between Cricket Australia, the ACA (the players’ union) and the teams themselves over (what else?) money!
Cricket Australia’s plan that the new league should mirror the 8-team men’s competition always looked ambitious; but it turns out that they were not expecting to have to pay for it – the assumption apparently being that players’ payments would come out of the existing (men’s) salary budgets.
This plan however was pole-axed by the ACA, who called it “robbing Peter to pay Pauline” – adamant that the men’s (much larger) salaries would not be reduced one iota to pay the women’s (considerably smaller) retainers.
The teams then in effect replied “don’t look at us” – despite an earlier insistence that they should call the tunes by selecting and contracting players themselves, the idea of actually paying the piper was apparently not quite what they had in mind!
So it has been left to Cricket Australia to pick up the budget to the tune of some half a million Australian dollars, part of which will come from reducing payments to the Southern Stars. Cricket Australia argue that the players will end up with the same amount of money at the end of the day; but a less charitable interpretation might be that they are now robbing Pauline to pay Pauline.
Meanwhile, the ACA is now also haggling after a “Memorandum of Understanding” over women players’ salaries – effectively a long-term collective-bargaining agreement, which is arguably in principle a good thing; but has further damaged relations with Cricket Australia, who argue that huge steps have already been made. With retainers going from $15,000 just a couple of years ago to over $50,000 now, Cricket Australia believe that anything more is unrealistic in the short term.
It is all an uncomfortable reminder that even in those countries such as England and Australia, where women’s cricket exists on a relatively stable financial footing compared to places like New Zealand and India, we remain indentured to The Other Game and when something has to give… well… I think we are all acutely aware of where it might (and might not) give first!