The Ashes saved as Australian cricket resolves pay dispute
The players and governing body reach compromise deal a month after stars' contracts expire
This winter's Ashes series will go ahead as planned after Australia's cricketers resolved their pay dispute with the sport's governing body and agreed a new deal.
The country's top players have been out of contract since the end of June and tours of Bangladesh and India were on the verge of being scrapped. An Australia A tour of South Africa was cancelled.
There were concerns about the England tour due to begin in October, but they have been allayed after Cricket Australia (CA) thrashed out a compromise deal with the Australian Cricketers' Association, which represents the players, over the distribution of revenue.
The two sides finally worked out their differences on Thursday, "having been bunkered down in intensive negotiations since Sunday", says The Guardian.
"The deal brings to an end a bitter standoff and months of bickering over how money in the game is distributed. Under the terms of the new 'modernised' deal, players will share around $500m of revenue over the next five years – an increase of nearly $120m."
CA's chief executive says the "in principle" deal will "allow all players, state and international, to be contracted immediately and also allow the all-important tour of Bangladesh to go ahead as planned".
He says the agreement is the "result of a sensible compromise between the two parties… change is never easy but something that is necessary.
"Neither side has got all it wanted in these negotiations. We've reached a good compromise, one that we can both live with."
The bad-tempered dispute "has been rumbling for months, rattling the game and badly straining the players' relationship with the governing body", says The Times.
"It left 230 cricketers unemployed since the end of June when their contracts expired… But Steve Smith will now lead his team to Dhaka on 18 August, with a one-day tour to India in September and October, and the showpiece home Ashes series against England, beginning in November, also now safe."
The Ashes under threat as Australian pay row rumbles on
Fears are growing that England's winter Ashes tour could be in danger after a pay dispute has left Australia's biggest stars currently unemployed following the expiry of their contracts with the sport's governing body.
Cricket Australia wants to scrap a 20-year-old pay deal that shares income with the players, but the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) rejected the idea.
The resulting impasse "casts doubts over the short term-future of Australian cricket", says The Independent. An Australia A tour of South Africa has already been cancelled.
Cricket Australia has called for arbitration to try and settle the issue. However, the players do not want to submit to a third party judgement and prefer mediation.
"The prospect… comes with a Test series in Bangladesh next month in increasing danger of not going ahead and with Australia desperate to avoid the commercial and reputational fallout that would accompany having to pull out of a short-form tour of India in October," says The Age.
A representative of the ACA has been in India and held talks with "major companies in Mumbai about licensing rights to Australian players, 230 of whom have been out of contract since 1 July ".
Further ahead is the "dire scenario" of the Ashes being called off, says Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph.
"For 28 days, the Baggy Greens have been out of contract, frozen out by their employers in negotiations so tortuous that they make David Davis’ conservations in Brussels seem a bagatelle," he says. "The first Ashes Test begins in Brisbane in under four months’ time and the host nation’s finest are effectively unemployed.
"The England team is due to fly to Australia in late October, these arrangements will be scrapped unless the necessary warm-up games can be guaranteed. And what of devoted supporters denied the luxury of booking refundable fares? The Barmy Army has warned that it faces bankruptcy if all five Ashes Tests go for a burton.
"There is no exaggeration in arguing that Australian cricket confronts, in the coming days, its greatest challenge since Kerry Packer struck out with his rebel World Series in 1977."
Australian cricket strike could put Ashes under threat
England's Ashes tour this winter could be under threat after Australian vice captain David Warner warned the home side "might not have a team" unless a pay dispute is resolved.
Governing body Cricket Australia is due to negotiate a new financial deal with players this year but wants to change the way it pays domestic cricketers.
"Under the old model, revenue was shared across the international and state levels, but CA wants to restructure to increase its revenue," says the Daily Mail.
Although some players would be better off, the end of revenue sharing has angered many. Leading players such as Warner and other internationals have made it clear they will not agree to the new proposals, which will affect players at the bottom of the ladder.
"They are threatening the possibility of strike action on behalf of the lowlier cricketers in the Australian game," says Vic Marks of The Guardian.
If there is no deal in place by 1 July, Australia's top cricketers will effectively become free agents and "could become Twenty20 freelancers", playing in tournaments in England and the Caribbean, reports the Daily Telegraph.
"The Australian players have already boycotted any Ashes promotional work this summer in England and the tension between the board and its biggest stars threatens to overshadow their Champions Trophy campaign," it adds.
"It has dragged on for months and will be a test case for other boards around the world. Players now have more power than ever before due to the lucrative salaries they can earn as Twenty20 freelancers."
While Marks says the actions of Warner and fellow players Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, who have tweeted their support, appear "selfless", that's not how Wally Mason of The Australian sees it.
Even lowly domestic cricketers earn A$200,000 (£115,000) a year, he claims, while those at the top are massively wealthy.
"The truth is, these multi-millionaires in flannel are threatening to rob Australian sports fans of the greatest spectacle on our shores, the Ashes," Mason adds.
The series is "the holy grail of Australian sport", continues the journalist, "the most prestigious and popular series in cricket... [and] the most lucrative source of income for the game.
"For a bunch of multi-millionaires to be threatening to deprive us of it so they can keep up the payments on their latest Lamborghini is an outrage."