The players association has taken much the same position and its long-time figurehead on Monday weighed in personally on cricket’s controversial response to COVID-19, saying it demonstrated that the “overly centralised” and “costly” structure of the game needed addressing.
“That at the first sign of a headwind, states are being asked to take significant cuts, which are in turn filtering down to local cricket, suggests that something is horribly wrong with the current model,” Dyer wrote in an article posted on the ACA website.
“This is a critical time for the game – it can either take the approach of looking to cut as many so-
called ‘costs’ as it can from its balance sheet, something that will have disastrous long-term
consequences on the health of the game; or it can realign so that the game’s partners (actually,
its ‘shareholders’- the states) have greater voice and autonomy than the mere ‘subsidiaries’ they
Dyer is particularly unhappy with plans to cut costs in domestic cricket, including a reduction in length of the Sheffield Shield, first forecast by the Herald this month, and the Women’s Big Bash League next season.
CA hopes to convince players of the merits of the changes in continuing talks about scheduling but with the likes of Alyssa Healy and Trent Copeland having already voiced their opposition, they will be difficult to budge.
Reflecting a view expressed by the ACA to the Longstaff review two years ago, Dyer believes Australia’s expensive high-performance system should be decentralised and the Shield should be restored to its former glory to intensify competition. He argues administrators risk wasting a chance to capitalise on the timing of the virus outbreak – it has shut the world down in Australian cricket’s off-season – if they slice into state and local resources rather than further investing in them.
“Now is the not the time to diminish the game,” he wrote. “From [the proposed cut from 10 to eight rounds] one can only determine that the 128-year-old Sheffield Shield is regarded not as an asset of the game, one that has served cricket so proudly, but rather as a cost that sits alongside corporate travel and office supplies.
“Cricket Australia has the opportunity to put in place effective plans for cricket to return even more vital than before – and a properly formatted, properly funded first-class game is an important investment in achieving this – as is paying greater respect and listening to its players and state associations at the coalface.”
Chris Barrett is Chief Sports Reporter of The Sydney Morning Herald.