Stars willing to take pay cut to revive BBL
AUSTRALIA'S domestic cricketers have declared they're prepared to take a collective pay cut to shorten the Big Bash League.
A survey of BBL stars has revealed 70 per cent of the playing group believe there are too many games in the season, and senior figures have privately indicated they'd be willing to hand back cash to Cricket Australia in order to make it happen.
It is highly unlikely CA would entertain the idea of culling the season from 14 games per team, but if the option was put on the table at a post-season review - the players are saying they don't want to be an obstacle to it being enacted.
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"There was a mechanism when it went up to 14 games that pulled down some funds (into the salary cap) that were from the end of the (MOU) agreement," said Australian Cricketers Association chief executive, Alistair Nicholson.
"Some of the senior players were going well, if we need to, for the good of the competition, go back down (in funds), well that's something we'd be happy to do.
"We would have to work that through with Cricket Australia, but the obvious way would be to reverse the mechanism that unlocked those funds.
"I don't think that's necessarily on the table. I don't think it will go back down from 14 games to 12, but players have been consistent on (belief season is too long) and Cricket Australia know that. We've been vocal about that the last few years.
"Some of the players are saying, well if it needs to go down then (taking pay cuts in salary cap) is something we could potentially look at.
"The point is the players are going, 'what's the best shape of this tournament?' And if it does need to go down (in matches), players are not necessarily wanting to be the barrier to that."
Broadcasters don't believe Cricket Australia would entertain the idea of shortening the season from 14 matches, although they wouldn't necessarily be against it if they did: As long as they were compensated financially for losing matches out of the 59-game agreement.
Former Channel 10 executive David Barham is set to conduct a review into the BBL and how it can improve in the coming weeks, with the players' association arguing it's reached crunch time for the competition to work out what it is:
"It's nine years old, it's now entering the next key phase, and is it just an entertainment product, or is it a serious cricket competition?" said Nicholson.
An analysis of this conundrum by the Australian Cricketers Association's survey of 85 per cent of male BBL players, also found the overwhelming majority (90 per cent) believe DRS needs to become part of the Big Bash, if it's to be a serious league.
In the most interesting response, players were also mixed over whether they thought Cricket Australia's new finals' system was a success.
CA went to a five-team finals system, but more than 50 per cent would prefer a four-team playoff system for the eight-team competition.
Under a top-four proposal, players would vote for the top two teams to play off for the right to go straight into the final, with the loser of that match to play the winner of three versus four.
Meanwhile, the players union is still against a push to open the doors for more international stars in the BBL.
"Opening up for a third overseas player is not necessarily going to pull in a highly quality overseas player," said Nicholson.
"Even the second contracted overseas players, obviously they're bringing a few different skills but they're not superstars. Opening the third one up, I don't know whether that's necessarily feeding into the crux of the problem.
"… What we're saying is, ' is that really the problem or is it more about the length or scheduling and some of these things which are more habitual about how people are consuming it?"