The nation’s best male and female cricketers remain firmly united in the quest for a fair outcome for all levels of the game, despite Cricket Australia’s repeated attempts to divide the groups in protracted Memorandum of Understanding negotiations.
Retired great Lisa Sthalekar said the lure of long-overdue improved conditions for elite women players had failed to shake their resolve for the Australian Cricketers’ Association to pursue increased investment in grassroots cricket and to protect the successful Revenue Share Model, which CA wants to abolish.
“The female players are behind ACA 100 per cent,” Sthalekar told The Australian Cricket Podcast. “They understand that this isn’t a negotiation only about them, it’s about all cricketers. So it’s not dividing them.
“Whilst at the moment it seems women cricketers will receive a hefty increase, they’re concerned about state cricket, male and females, to ensure that they’re OK.
“I think that’s the main thing that we’ve seen in this negotiation, that whilst the best players in the country, male and female, will profit from Cricket Australia’s current proposal, they’re more concerned about ‘Well, we want to make sure that all cricketers are going to be safe’. And, the revenue share allows them that.”
Sthalekar said CA and the ACA shared common ground on upgrading conditions for women and raising grassroots expenditure, but introducing those changes at the expense of a logical and enduring system of pay and partnership was unnecessary and unacceptable.
“The fact that a model that’s been part of Australian cricket for 20 years is all of a sudden scrapped - and no real reasons as to why it’s been scrapped except that it just needs to be adapted - doesn’t make sense to me,” the four-time World Cup winner said.
“You can’t just completely change the goalposts and expect us to move on. What’s worked so well for 20 years, we’d probably like to start there.”
“The fact that a model that’s been part of Australian cricket for 20 year is all of a sudden scrapped... doesn’t make sense to me” Lisa Sthalekar
Sthalekar, an accomplished coach and commentator, explained that the passion behind the ACA’s stance reached far beyond finances and that it was crucial for CA to start genuinely working with the players.
“I think the players, especially the current players, understand the importance they have now for future generations - and they want to set it up,” she said.
“This isn’t about numbers or amounts of dollars. This is about a pure partnership. They feel that they have a seat at the table while they have the Revenue Share Model. Once you take that away, you lose that seat. And they don’t want to lose it. … They are all united. I think they’re trying to make Cricket Australia just listen to what they’re saying.”
Sthalekar said she’d “like to think” a deal can be reached, despite CA refusing the ACA’s offer of mediation.
“I think both parties are really hopeful. There is talking going on, whether it’s at the negotiating table… Let’s see what happens and what unfolds in the next three weeks. But both parties want a deal done.
“We don’t want to put the players in an awkward position. We want to see the Ashes take place, both the male and female teams, so I do believe a deal will be done.”