We, at the risk of being accused of spreading fake news, saw a member of the ACA, a cricketer who may or may not have been Usman Khawaja, standing on the corner of Brunton Avenue and Punt Road outside the MCG with a cardboard placard that read, “Will Play Cricket for Food.”
That is not actually true, of course, but the situation is dire and Khawaja and some of his cohorts are showing solidarity in announcing that they are prepared to abandon a tour of South Africa. They did hold a meeting in Sydney and set Friday coming as the last chance for CA to supply a new Memorandum of Understanding regarding the way revenues from the game are to be divvied amongst the players and the organisation.
The facts are these three: Cricket players, at the A level, are paid handsomely to play a game some of us grew up playing deliriously happy for free. Cricket generates massive amounts of revenue. Fans are the only true losers.
The two sides will eventually come to an agreement. Both will claim victory at the negotiating table. Disillusioned fans will eventually return and willingly pay more in the form of increased ticket prices and another dollar or two tacked onto any amenities of which they choose to partake of at the ground.
You have to admire, grudgingly or otherwise, the temerity of CA in offering to permit the players to go on the South African tour and play for free.
The players’ threat to boycott the South African tour came across as a bit hollow, however, with the pledge to take part in the Ashes, even if rescuing that series requires sub-contracting player rights to CA.
The whole sorry mess threatens the game of cricket with a blight that will remind international sports fans of the damage experienced by the NFL when the league resorted to using replacement players to keep the fixture intact during the 1987 season.