Former Australian cricketer Allan Border.
Former Australian cricketer Allan Border. JAGADEESH NV

How Allan Border would solve cricket's pay war

FORMER Australian captain Allan Border believes short-term deals for players are the way to save the tours to Bangladesh and India as Australian cricket's pay war continues to fester.

Cricket Australia on Thursday accused the players' association of "strategies" designed to delay talks which put all upcoming cricket in jeopardy.

In a last-ditch bid to bring an immediate end to the dispute, CA CEO James Sutherland called for the matter to go to arbitration if urgent talks with Australia Cricketers' Association boss Alistair Nicholson can't strike a new deal by early next week.

Speaking to Fox Sports News 500, Border said it's clear the two camps are "poles apart" and that some form of circuit-breaker is needed to reach a resolution of sorts.

"Obviously the players and the board are still miles apart in those negotiations, which is very disappointing from an outsider looking in," he said. "You would've thought some resolution would've been happening by now. But maybe arbitration is the only way forward because they just seem to be poles apart."

However, Border even foresaw a problem with going to an independent arbitrator.

"I know the players wanted some sort of mediation a few months ago," Border said. "The Australian cricket board knocked that back, but now James Sutherland talked yesterday about going to an industrial court to settle things - that's pretty serious stuff.


Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland addresses the media.
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland addresses the media. JAMES ROSS

"There's even problems there. Cricket Australia might put forward a retired judge that the players don't accept, so what happens then, if you don't agree on who's going to be the arbitrator? They're miles apart and it just seems ridiculous at this point that we're at this stage."

Border, who played 156 Tests for Australia, says the way forward may be for the players to sign bridging contracts to save the Test tour of Bangaldesh next month and the following ODI tour of India while the two sides continue to try and thrash out a resolution.

"Something's got to give because we want to see cricket played," Border said. "I think the players just want to get out and play.

"I think James Sutherland mentioned short-term contracts, maybe that's a viable option just to get the players playing again or ready to tour again to Bangladesh, India and obviously with the Ashes coming up.

"Maybe that's the answer, just short-term contracts to get us through this period and hopefully in that time they can get close to signing a MOU."

Border refused to be drawn on which side was most at fault, saying both camps need to take responsibility, but acknowledged that differences over the pay model is at the heart of the dispute.

"It's something that's worked for the past 20 years, which was the percentage of revenues for the players," Border said. "And they took a 26 per cent cut of those revenues. That seemed to be working fine.

"Obviously Cricket Australia have said now that that pay structure is not the way forward, and so they're just at polar opposites as to how the money gets divvied up.

"It's a difficult one for me as an outsider because you don't know everything that is going on behind the scenes as far as what is the right system for the players to be paid going forward."

Border doesn't believe players totally possess the whip hand in negotiations due to the proliferation of Twenty20 leagues around the world, because he thinks only a small percentage of the cricketers affected have the skills to ply their trade in the abbreviated format of the sport.

"You're talking about over 200 first-class cricketers, probably only 20-30 of those have got the skills to be playing Twenty20 cricket at this point and to be picked up by different (leagues) overseas," Border said.

"There's 30 players who might be OK out of all of this but what about the other 200? That's the issue for the players' association going forward. Get this sorted out as quickly as possible and Cricket Australia have got a responsibility, too. There's got to be a bit of give and take."

News Corp Australia

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