Give them their due, Cricket Australia really are the masters of media management. This morning we’ve seen the mainstream newspapers, not to mention some of the cricket press who really should know better, fall over themselves to laud CA over a one-sided press release which in reality is just another battle in their war with the Australian (Men’s) Cricketers’ Association (ACA) over the future of men’s salaries.
The press release proclaims an amazing leap forwards for the women’s game:
“Women’s Pay Set To Double” is typical of the headlines in the mainstream press; and this would be big news if it was news… but unfortunately that isn’t quite what it is.
The small print begins even in that tweet from Cricket Australia – this isn’t a deal, it is an “offer” made by CA to the ACA – the latest bargaining chip in the protracted round of negotiations over a new deal for Australia’s men’s cricketers.
For a few years now, the men in Australia… in an agreement based on a “memorandum of understanding” which totally excludes the women… have been paid based on a revenue sharing agreement – when CA does well, the men do well; and when CA win the lottery (as they have with the BBL), the men win the lottery.
CA want to ditch this deal, for reasons both good and bad – they want to keep back more money for CA itself, but they would argue that this will allow them to invest in the future of the game, and put aside grain for the lean years which will inevitably roll around one day.
Unsurprisingly, the men aren’t terribly keen on this, and through their union – which is what the ACA is – they are fighting tooth and nail to keep revenue sharing.
Today’s offer is an attempt by CA to cut through the Gordian Knott of the ACA’s intransigence on this issue. By bringing the women into it, and aspiring to double their salaries, CA make themselves out to be the good guys, and challenge the ACA to look like sexist dinosaurs if they spurn this latest offer.
And by releasing it to the media the way they have, CA also clearly hope to create a fait accompli – to make the deal almost impossible for the ACA to reject, because the media have already painted it as “done”.
If it eventually happens, and if the small print lives up to the headlines, then sure – it would be a game-changer. But those are big “ifs”; and the media are doing the women, who are being used as cannon-fodder in a cynical game of “blink” between CA and the ACA, a disservice in writing those headlines based on where we really are at right now.
Yes, you are right, they are BIG IFS…but they have set a marker which all other countries will need to look at. I am sure there will be some compromise- there always is. But the other big cricket nation – India – will need to think this through as well, and of course there will be pressure on the ECB.
Ultimately, as I have said before, it all depends on how many people actually PAY to watch women’s cricket. The ECB figure of 15,000 people in total watching the KIA League is laughable – thats about 1,000 a game, of which probably 50% were free. You get bigger crowds paying in the lower football leagues….
So it’s great the CA have made this rather barbed offer, but the real points are 1) getting people to come and watch and pay 2) putting money into the county game 3) decent coaches for the girls 4) an open and honest culture that looks at talent only.
We can all only hope…..