With just two days remaining before the ACA and CA salary impasse clock ticks down to zero, the proceedings at the negotiation table have taken on a bizarre twist that seems so surreal that not even George R.R. Martin could conceive of such a scenario for the Game of Thrones franchise.
Cricket Australia has asked Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell to play on a volunteer basis, reclaiming their amateur status and adding a new nuance to the definition of “professional athlete.”
If something does not happen, or no one budges by Saturday, more than 200 Aussie cricketers will not be able to buy groceries, or any of life’s other necessities.
Maxwell could earn millions in any country that pays cricket players, but if he is to represent Australia in The Ashes in South Africa come summer, he will have to swing for free.
The A squad has five players threatened with abject poverty, while five others will continue to receive financial remuneration from Cricket Australia due to the existence of multi-year state contracts.
We do not consider ourselves experts in terms of what those who play a game for a living are worth, but we are well acquainted with the laws of supply and demand. There are only so many cricket players capable of the sort of play of which Khawaja and Maxwell are capable.
The offer tabled by Cricket Australia of “unpaid contracts” is too ludicrous to fathom.
Along with Khawaja and Maxwell, headliners Travis Head and Jackson Bird could soon be on the dole. Perhaps they could collaborate and form a boy band or roles on Dancing With the Stars.
The players for whom livelihoods are at stake can take some solace in that if they do concede and play for love of country, they would have their insurance benefits covered and they would be fed, but that is it.
If Cricket Australia succeeds in pulling this gambit off, mark our words, it will be a matter of minutes before we ink-stained journos will be slaving over hot keyboards for cool water and Band-Aids.