BBL 2022: Cricket Australia reveals plans to boost salary cap to help keep homegrown stars
Cricket Australia is ramping up plans to significantly increase the salary cap for BBL teams in a bid to ward off rival leagues swooping on Australia’s homegrown stars.
Cricket Australia is confident the David Warner and Chris Lynn crisis (see below) won’t force the Big Bash to privatise, as it reveals plans to boost the salary cap and reclaim the January window from overseas billionaires.
BBL marquee Faf du Plessis has warned Australia of the dangers of home grown stars walking out on their own competition, as officials scramble to avoid a Twenty20 gulf war and stand on its own two feet.
Knowing it can’t match the $700,000 pay packets being flogged to Aussies and overseas stars by the new United Arab Emirates T20 League, it can be revealed CA chief Nick Hockley has officially written to his Dubai equivalents asking them to push the starting date of the inaugural UAE tournament back to mid-January this coming summer and then delay the start date by another week again in 2023-24.
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That way, the UAE League with its bottomless pockets might start around January 24 and only compete with the BBL finals rather than the heart of the competition.
“We’ve just returned from the ICC annual conference in the UK and we’re working constructively with all the members including the UAE to minimise the overlap with the Big Bash,” Hockley told News Corp.
As revealed by News Corp, Australian players are disgruntled that overseas stars like du Plessis are coming in on bigger money for less work, but Hockley has vowed to significantly increase the BBL salary cap next year to financially reward home grown heroes … and claims it can be done without needing to rush to the kind of private equity model that is fuelling overseas leagues.
“We’re really proud that Australian cricketers are among the best paid sportspeople in the country and I think we’ve also invested additional funds in attracting the best overseas players as part of the draft,” Hockley said.
“We are starting work now with the ACA around the next long-term MOU and ensuring that the BBL salary cap is calibrated in a way that we’re remaining competitive is one of the key items on the agenda.
“... We’re in the fortunate position where we don’t need to rush any discussion in relation to private investment, but we continue to stay close to the market and will continue to discuss all our strategic options with stakeholders.
“... Whilst we continue to look at all our options … we are not in a rush to raise additional capital.”
T20 superstar Du Plessis is arguably the biggest name in the Big Bash draft coming up on August 28 and broadcast live on Kayo and Fox Sports, but will himself leave after a month because as well as a UAE League, there’s a new South African League starting in the now jam-packed January period.
The Proteas great fears the ridiculous amounts of money now being offered by the UAE – which allows up to nine overseas players per team – has threatened the patriotic loyalty that the Australian and South African competitions are relying on to survive.
“The amount of money that’s going into the T20 game is what’s making it a threat more than ever,” du Plessis told News Corp.
“Before it was only the IPL … now, because the other tournaments don’t have that exclusive window the IPL has of no cricket, there’s going to be that potential clash that’s almost starting to happen now where players would go to the league that has got more money.
“That’s just the nature of where this T20 thing is growing towards.
“Even someone like myself. You have the choice whether you want to play in South Africa or do you want to play in the Emirates League?
“That’s the sort of thing that’s going to start happening in the Big Bash.
“Players will choose, ‘do I want to play in the Big Bash, or do I want to play in another league that’s happening at the same time?”
There is hope the UAE might respect the sanctity of the existing leagues in established cricketing nations like Australia, South Africa and Pakistan, who are actually producing international cricketers rather than poaching them from everyone else.
Sources say the ideal compromise would be for the UAE League to overlap with the last week of the Big Bash and the first week of the Pakistan Super League in February – but have a couple of exclusive weeks in the middle to itself.
The Big Bash would then be a far better chance of signing overseas stars for the entire competition rather than having them only come out for month-long cameos.
PLAYERS HIT CA WITH PLEASE EXPLAIN OVER GLARING BBL PAY GAP
Players hit CA with please explain over glaring BBL pay gap Big Bash stars have issued Cricket Australia with a please explain over why overseas imports such as Faf du Plessis are dwarfing them in the pay stakes.
There has been wide spread consternation across the playing ranks over why international players can waltz in and earn $340,000 for as little as three weeks work, when Australian home grown stars are flat out making half that for the entire competition.
Chris Lynn was understood to be the highest paid Australian star in the BBL on $200,000 until he was dumped by the Brisbane Heat, meaning Aussie World Cup hopes like Matthew Wade, Kane Richardson and Ben McDermott – the heartbeat of the Big Bash every year – are earning about the same as third rate international players coming in on a silver wage of $170,000.
News Corp understands the players’ association has put the question to Cricket Australia chiefs and been assured the discrepancy is only a one-season anomaly and will be ironed out in next year’s new pay deal.
It points strongly towards the Big Bash salary cap sky rocketing for the 2023-24 season and potentially the draft expanding to include Australian stars or even becoming competition wide.
Given the heat coming from broadcasters and the sudden introduction of competing leagues in South Africa and the UAE, Cricket Australia has had little choice but to introduce pragmatic policies on the run to try and resurrect the Big Bash.
The Godfather offer Cricket Australia is set to make to David Warner to play BBL is the right play, but also creates a precedent for how fellow superstars like Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh might expect to be compensated in the years ahead.
If Cricket Australia is to write it into the playing contracts of centrally contracted Australian stars that they must play BBL, they will have to increase salaries accordingly as well.
It is why the question of whether CA should introduce an element of private equity into the Big Bash is starting to become the most urgent issue in the game.
Overall, the players’ association and CA are on the same page with doing whatever it takes to supercharge the Big Bash – because it’s an example of the revenue share model in action.
If the players buy into the rescue mission, it will be them and the generations of players to follow who will reap the financial rewards.
However, CA must be careful not to take home grown stars for granted, because the precarious cases of Warner and Chris Lynn highlights the fact Aussies can cash in on mega dollars in the UAE and South Africa and there may not be much CA can do about it.
One point the Australian Cricketers Association has made to CA is that the big money being offered to overseas imports should be reserved only for the biggest international stars and not handed out to anyone with a foreign passport who nominates for the draft.
No one is disputing that the likes of du Plessis, Liam Livingston and Babar Azam are certified stars, but there is already scepticism about whether veterans like Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard are still worth platinum money simply on the strength of their profiles.
There is a counter argument against the claims of disgruntled local players that there is nothing unfair about what Australians earn from the Big Bash given the competition makes up 40 per cent of domestic contracts.
And CA don’t feel they need to apologise for making discretionary calls on where to top up contracts, given it’s happened in the past to get Pat Cummins to the Sydney Thunder and AB de Villiers to the Brisbane Heat as just two examples.
However, the fact privately funded franchise leagues are starting to take over world cricket means the current wages aren’t going to cut it long term if Cricket Australia wants to remain competitive for the best talent – Australian or overseas.
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia is still hopeful Pakistan cricket will allow its big stars to enter the Big Bash draft despite reports suggesting the PCB are set to refuse permission.
NEW FAVOURITE EMERGES AS WARNER CONSIDERS BBL RETURN
Sydney Thunder have emerged as favourites to bring David Warner back to the Big Bash as the batsman considers making a legacy play in one of the final calls of his career.
Warner’s potential presence in the Big Bash is still in the balance and hinges on what kind of offer Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley can manufacture in the coming days, after the superstar requested permission to head to a new T20 League in the UAE in the middle of January.
Hockley has met with Warner and if he is able to get a deal done, attention will immediately turn to which club would become Warner’s new home – given the 35-year-old represented both Sydney teams in his younger years.
However, News Corp understands the Thunder would be in the box seat to land his signature, with Warner shaping as an ideal opening and potentially captaincy replacement for Usman Khawaja at a club searching for a new marquee face in Sydney’s western suburbs heartland.
Ironically Warner grew up in Sixers territory in Matraville in Sydney’s east, but the Sixers are expected to be leaving their Australian international roster spot open to sign Steve Smith.
The Hobart Hurricanes could be a left-field candidate given Warner’s relationship with their new cricket boss Ricky Ponting, but it would be difficult to see the dedicated family man playing outside of Sydney.
Warner has a relationship with Thunder coach Trevor Bayliss having played under him in the IPL and could follow on from the tradition of Mike Hussey, Shane Watson and most recently Khawaja as a superstar presence in the Thunder dressing room.
Speaking on Fox Sport’s The Back Page, Candice Warner revealed that despite the mammoth $700,000 a year over three year offer from the UAE, her husband was motivated to put back into the Australian game and potentially play a leading role in rejuvenating the BBL.
“I think everyone obviously thinks everyone is always going to take the larger amount of money but T20 cricket and the Big Bash gave David his start, basically,” Warner said on The Back Page.
“And he’s at the back end of his career and he wants to give back to the game, he wants to give back to cricket in this country.
“ … For David, it’s not just about the money. For David, he’s a leader on the field, he’s also a leader within the team and he understands the importance of his decision and how it could affect, not just him, but the entire team and also cricket in this country moving forward.
“David was at the forefront of the MOU a few years ago and really fought for the players, and with another MOU (coming up), he wants to make sure that Australian cricket is in the best possible position and making sure the players are also in that position as well.”
Hockley has returned from the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and has already met with Warner and may hold further talks by the end of the week.
There is pressure on Cricket Australia to come up with a multi-year offer that could convince Warner to stay in the BBL beyond his retirement from international cricket, whenever that might be.
Whether Warner stays in the BBL or leaves, it shapes as a landmark test case for Australian players, given how underpaid the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch are in the Big Bash compared to their earning potential overseas.
It is why many believe Cricket Australia will inevitably have to consider the injection of private investment into the BBL for fears the competition simply won’t be able to compete with a T20 landscape that’s changing rapidly.
Cricket Australia will attempt to write into players’ contracts for the next MOU that part of their central contract is they must have a Big Bash deal – although they will have to find ways to compensate players well for it.
The Big Bash suffered a blow on Wednesday, with reports Pakistan will refuse to allow the likes of Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi to play in the BBL.
Meanwhile, the Sydney Sixers memberships are now on sale, as they look to add Smith to their roster to join fellow Australian star Nathan Lyon.
EXCLUSIVE: LYNN, CA ON LEGAL COLLISION COURSE
—Ben Horne, Peter Lalor
A legal showdown could be looming between Chris Lynn and Cricket Australia over whether he has the right to boycott part of the Big Bash and play overseas.
After being sensationally punted by the Brisbane Heat earlier this year, News Corp understands Lynn wants to play the first part of the coming BBL season with the Adelaide Strikers (who are open to talks) — but has made it clear his No. 1 priority is to head to the new UAE T20 League in mid-January to take up a deal in excess of $500,000.
CA will almost certainly refuse the BBL’s highest ever run scorer the no objection certificate (NOC) he needs to defect to the Dubai Desert, and there is mounting speculation Lynn may seriously consider taking CA to court for restraint of trade if he is blocked.
While David Warner’s request to also play in the UAE this summer presents a more high profile minefield for CA to navigate, what makes Lynn’s bid so explosive is the fact he doesn’t even hold a cricketing contract in Australia after being sacked by the Heat.
CA’s likely refusal of an NOC for Lynn will be based on a clause put in place by the International Cricket Council which requires players to still seek permission from their home board to play overseas if they’ve held a club, state or national contract within the past two years.
However, industry insiders say Cricket Australia would be nervous to have such a clause tested in court given there’s nothing in the Australian players’ MOU with CA about a “two years after” rule.
Adelaide Strikers coach Jason Gillespie has called on CA to provide swift clarity on the NOC storm.
“Chris is someone the Adelaide Strikers would be interested in having a conversation with in playing a part in the BBL, whether it’s a full tournament or part of a tournament,” Gillespie told News Corp.
“We’d be open to having a conversation with Chris or Chris’s management in the BBL coming up, however, we can’t reach out to have a discussion until we get absolute clarity from CA and the ICC.”
Lynn believes he should be free to become a soldier of fortune now that he’s uncontracted.
The 32-year-old was on $200,000 a season with the Heat but faces a pay cut if he stays in the BBL — meaning the big dollars on offer in the UAE presents a huge earning opportunity for him late in his career.
Double dipping by playing part of the BBL and then the UAE League is no different to what CA is allowing Rashid Khan and the vast majority of international marquees coming to the BBL this season to do.
The only difference being Lynn is Australian.
There is angst among local BBL stars that the likes of Khan and Faf du Plessis can pocket $340,000 as platinum overseas signings for as little as eight games work, when the best Aussies are flat out earning half that amount for a full season.
Back in June, Lynn flagged his interest in the UAE by responding cryptically to a social media post announcing the league’s arrival.
Lynn showed with some blockbusting recent performances in the recent England domestic T20 competition that he still has plenty to offer, and Cricket Australia understandably don’t want to lose arguably the biggest ticket item in the competition’s history. A Lynn return to the Gabba would be an explosive box office hit.
It wasn’t CA’s choice to cut Lynn from the Heat, and they fear for the precedent that would be set by allowing him to defect overseas in the middle of the BBL.
Meanwhile, the warning signs that the BBL may need to privatise or die have amplified with Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch’s IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders declaring a desire to sign players to a 12 month a year contract which would allow them to call on their services for franchises in the UAE, the Caribbean and other domestic leagues.
The Kolkata Knight Rider’s chief executive, Venky Mysorie, says its owners are also keen to invest in the Big Bash and England’s Hundred — two competitions which have thus far rejected private investment.
“If it happened that way, at some point in the future, that’d be great,” Mysore told Tim Wigmore in The Telegraph.
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“What we want to create is a common platform and a system and a culture that allows us to participate around the year — enhancing our brand, building our fan base, and providing opportunities to cricketers around the world. And in the process, you build hopefully a successful business around it.”
Sydney Sixers have pinched NSW captain Kurtis Patterson back from the Perth Scorchers, while a further 71 overseas players have nominated for the draft, underlining the appeal the BBL still holds on a global scale despite the market forces working against it.
Originally published as BBL 2022: Cricket Australia reveals plans to boost salary cap to help keep homegrown stars