Smith speaks out on funding dispute
AS the Australian Cricketers Association makes moves to fund its protracted pay battle with Cricket Australia in India, Test captain Steve Smith has broken his silence to declare the players will not buckle.
Smith has been criticised in some corners for his relative absence from the front lines of the biggest issue in Australian cricket which has left about 230 national and state cricketers unemployed for more than a week.
After playing almost non-stop from last October until the early Champions Trophy exit last month, the national captain has been enjoying a long overdue holiday in Europe and the US, where he also got engaged to long-time girlfriend Dani Willis.
He has maintained contact with the ACA throughout, and even dialled in via video link to the historic players meeting in Sydney last Sunday when the players turned up the pressure on CA to open the door to mediation over the next Memorandum of Understanding.
A lack of movement in talks during the week, however, resulted in players boycotting an Australia A tour of South Africa.
The Herald Sun revealed yesterday that the ACA's general manager Tim Cruickshank will fly to India this week in a bid to sell the rights to the Australian cricket team to would-be sponsors in India.
Smith and Test teammates David Warner, Mitchell Starc and even Glenn Maxwell are massive names on the cashed-up sub- continent.
CA has lost control of their image rights to the players association, which has lost $4 million in annual funding.
Any money raised from the sale of image rights will go to funding unemployed domestic male and female players through what looms as a lengthy stand-off.
And Smith said despite efforts to break them, the players would stay united and push to secure the future for not just the elite players, but all cricketers looking to get the very best out of themselves at all levels.
"I'll say what we as players have been saying for some time now: we are not giving up the revenue- sharing model for all players,” Smith wrote in a lengthy Instagram post.
"But, through the ACA we are willing to make important changes to modernise the existing model for the good of the game.
"We are and have always been willing to make those changes.
"Changes for how the model can be adapted for the even greater benefit of grass roots cricket, which is after all where we all started.
"We are determined to keep revenue sharing for all because we must take care of domestic players in Australia.
"As leaders that's what David, Meg, Alex and I have been fighting for: a fair share for state players who are also partners in cricket.
"I know from my career that when I was dropped in 2011 if I didn't have a strong domestic competition to go back to, I certainly wouldn't be in the position that I'm in today.
"State players need to be taken care of financially so the domestic competition will always be strong which in turn keeps us strong at the International level.”
And Smith said the male players were fully supportive of their female colleagues who also deserved to share in the revenue they helped create for CA.
"They must have the same chances and incentives to grow the game as the men have had since revenue sharing started,” Smith said.
"And I know I speak for all of the men that we want women cricketers in the one deal with the men as well.
"It's time to get a deal done. It should be and can be an exciting time for the game.”