While the footy codes have taken over ovals around Australia, there's still plenty going on throughout Australian cricket.
Our national men's team have departed for their Tour of the West Indies and we wish them all every success against a local outfit showing some renewed confidence.
Joining Michael Clarke's team is Brad Haddin, who officially announced his retirement from ODI cricket after a superb career spanning three World Cups and 126 matches. His final match, of course, was the triumph at the MCG in March and a fitting way for him to call stumps. Congratulations on all you've contributed individually and as a much-valued team man!
Speaking of One Day cricket, there has been a significant change to the structure of the Matador Cup, with a seventh team to be introduced for the upcoming season. This team will be comprised of players sourced from outside the 15-player squads named by each state. We note that it is on a trial basis and its impact will be evaluated throughout the two year period.
The ACA supports the initiative of an additional team in the Matador Cup to the extent that it as an opportunity for greater numbers of our members to compete in one of our premier domestic competitions.
The level to which the team and the players are competitive will naturally be a key consideration and we hope many improve and thrive by being exposed to high standard competition. It's vital that new team adds to depth of the Matador Cup and the competition itself maintains its strength.
Also important will be the resourcing, coaching and management of the team, which will obviously have to overcome the challenges associated with players being assembled from different states, perhaps being less experienced, and having a shorter time together than the other teams. We are still in discussions with CA regarding player payments for the new team.
Discussions are also ongoing with CA regarding the Women's contracting model for 2015-16 and progressing a Women's MOU.
Both the ACA and CA agree on the importance of supporting the continued growth of women's cricket. The landscape is evolving fairly quickly and the introduction of the WBBL is exciting but there's still detail to be confirmed.
The game is becoming more and more professional but at the same time, our female players are still juggling work or study commitments as well, and so the certainty and safety net that a collective agreement provides is more important than ever.
We're pleased with the progress being made towards this and we have an opportunity to ensure that female cricket continues to grow into the leading women's sport in the country.
In regard to a new competition for ex-international players, currently promoted by Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar, we look forward to hearing more detail. If it can complement established cricket and promote the game in new markets then it seems a good opportunity for former players. There are obviously considerations around ICC sanctioning that we'd like to better understand as well.
Through our membership of the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA), we are monitoring closely the proposed tour to Pakistan by Zimbabwe. There has been considerable controversy surrounding the tour, which FICA's security consultants have assessed as an unacceptable risk and teams are advised against travelling there at present.
Last Thursday Zimbabwe Cricket issued a press release suspending the tour and 20 minutes later sent an email retracting it. This was despite the country's foreign affairs ministry advising that a visit to Pakistan would not be safe.
What is most concerning is that the ICC, based on the report from their own security consultant, has decided against appointing its match officials for the series. Effectively the ICC is stating that the tour presents an unacceptable risk to match officials, but that the risk to players is somehow acceptable. Notwithstanding the flawed logic of this approach, it is enormously concerning if any players have been pressured into touring, against the advice of security experts. While it is clear that there is a significant amount of politics at play here, nothing should override the players' safety.
On a more positive note, within the staff ranks at the ACA, there's been some memorable achievements. At the end of the 2014-15 season, our Commercial Manager Tim Cruickshank skippered his beloved Manly Warringah to their first two-day premiership in 26 years. Having managed this feat, the all-time leading run-scorer for the Waratahs officially announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. In 16 seasons of 1st Grade, Tim scored 10,480 runs for the Waratahs, at an average of 33.06.
Our newest member of staff, former Tasmanian paceman Brendan Drew, became a first-time father when he and wife Jess welcomed their son Lachlan into the world. Brendan is Project Manager for our State of the Game program and we congratulate all the Drews on the new arrival!
You can read more about Brendan and the program in the Membership Update section.