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Australian cricket pay dispute averted as compromise found

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An ugly pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the players’ union appears to have been averted, after the two parties agreed to defer revenue calculations until there is a clearer picture of the Covid-19 toll on the forthcoming season.

CA had previously sought a significant reduction in the amount of money to be distributed into the player payment pool negotiated with the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) as a fixed percentage of revenue under the MoU signed in 2017.

While this would not affect retainers and match fees for the looming season, the amounts passed onto the players as part of the “adjustment ledger” distributed annually to account for revenue above CA’s 2017 projections stood to be drastically reduced. Anger at this move, combined with a similar dispute between CA and the state associations, had paralysed the game for more than three months up to the exit of the chief executive Kevin Roberts.

ALSO READ: Knowledge, power – inside the fall of Kevin Roberts

As recently as early June, Roberts and CA had claimed that projected revenue for the forthcoming summer would be almost halved by the impact of the pandemic, even though it had announced a full international schedule including an India tour valued at around A$300 million. The compromise, with the ACA agreeing to drop a formal notice of dispute that could have seen the players and the governing body go to court, means the revenue forecast calculation will not be made until the financial tale of the 2020-21 season is more readily able to be pieced together.

“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association have today agreed a way forward on Australian Cricket’s response to COVID-19,” a CA spokesman said. “The parties have agreed to postpone the Australian Cricket Revenue projection until such time they are better able to assess the financial impact of the pandemic and calculate a clear projection for the year ahead.

“With today’s agreement, the ACA has agreed to withdraw its notice of dispute lodged last month with CA. We would like to thank the ACA for the constructive manner in which they have engaged in discussions in what has been a challenging time for the game.”

CA’s chairman Earl Eddings has been closely involved in board to board discussions with his ACA opposite number Greg Dyer, while the interim chief executive Nick Hockley had also entered talks with the ACA CEO Alistair Nicholson in recent days.

“Today’s agreement is a significant step forward in cricket’s response to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and should provide our stakeholders with renewed clarity and confidence about the summer ahead,” the spokesman said.

“Calculating revenue projections 12 months ahead during a once-in-a-century pandemic has not been without its challenges, but we believe we have arrived at a position that provides all parties with greater certainty about how to navigate the next year.

“The ACR will be reassessed in due course, providing time to better assess the financial impact of the pandemic and calculate a clear projection for the year ahead.”

Nicholson welcomed the resolution: “This ‘reset’ is both welcome and sensible. CA is free to reforecast again at various times over the next financial year, should there be a material revenue event affecting cricket.”

CA remains in discussions with the state associations about their annual distributions, with reductions most vigorously opposed by New South Wales and Queensland. In the meantime, more than 150 state staff and 40 CA staff have been made redundant from their roles.



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Vivo pulls out as IPL 2020 title sponsors

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IPL title rights holders Vivo have pulled out of this year’s tournament, ESPNcricinfo understands. The development follows a public outcry over the tournament’s association with Vivo, a Chinese company, following clashes at the India-China border in June.

Neither the BCCI nor Vivo were available for comment on the issue.

In June, the BCCI had said it would “review” the sponsorship deals concerning the IPL, but did not name any brand. “Taking note of the border skirmish that resulted in the martyrdom of our brave jawans, the IPL Governing Council has convened a meeting next week to review IPL’s various sponsorship deals,” BCCI said in a tweet posted on June 19.

According to India Today Vivo would return as IPL’s title sponsor for the 2022 and 2023 editions. It also has reported that the BCCI will issue a tender in the coming days to find a title sponsor for the 2020 IPL season.

Two days ago, the BCCI’s formal announcement – signed by secretary Jay Shah – of the IPL being played in the UAE between September 15 and November 10 mentioned Vivo as the title sponsor.

The decision is not likely to significantly affect the franchises financially. ESPNcricinfo spoke with several franchises, each of whom said that while the IPL was yet to inform them of the development, they were not fussed at the news. It is understood each franchise gets approximately Rs 20 crore per year from the Vivo contract. As far they are concerned, as long as the BCCI can rope in a replacement for Vivo, this development will not have any impact on them.

Vivo had bagged the title sponsorship for two years initially in 2015, and retained the rights signing a five-year contract (2017-22), paying about USD 341 million.



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Recent Match Report – Northamptonshire vs Warwickshire Central Group 2020

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Northamptonshire 142 (Stone 4-39) and 507 for 6 declared (Rossington 135*, Proctor 112* Thurston 96, Curran 58) drew with Warwickshire 369 for 8 (Bresnan 105, Yates 88)

Northamptonshire secured a Bob Willis Trophy draw that felt like a win after seventh-wicket pair Adam Rossington and Luke Procter batted through the final day to crush the life out of Warwickshire’s victory bid at Edgbaston.

Northamptonshire seemed to be hurling to defeat when, just after lunch on the third day, trailing by 227 on first innings, they hit 148 for 5 in their second. But from that point onwards they showed enormous resilience and resolve to bat their way to safety on a flattening pitch.

The great escape was led by Rossington who dug in to deliver the archetypal captain’s innings – 135 from 399 balls with 17 fours. After adding 159 with Charlie Thurston on the third day, on the fourth, the skipper added an unbroken 200 in 83 overs with Procter, who reached 112 not out, to steer his side to 507 for 6, their record total against Warwickshire.

The superb rearguard action left a young Northamptonshire side proud and delighted, but there were the opposite feelings in the home dressing-room. After completely dominating the first two days, Warwickshire let victory slip through their fingers, literally with several dropped catches, while the bowling attack failed to deal with the loss of spearhead Olly Stone.

The absence of Stone, who was off the field having a side injury assessed, was a big blow but did not excuse the lack of potency and control from too many other members of the attack.

Northamptonshire still had plenty to do to reach safety in the match when they resumed on the final morning on 317 for 6, but Procter set down an immediate marker for the day with successive fours off Tim Bresnan.

On a pitch which offered the seamers less and less assistance as the match lengthened, very few balls did not locate the middle of the bat. Rossington reached his seventh first-class century from 227 balls with his 14th four, punched straight off Ryan Sidebottom before, in the next over, Procter posted his 50 from 91 balls with eight fours.

The pair added 98 in the morning, then in the afternoon Rossington dropped anchor deeper than ever. The captain scored just 15 runs in the session, settling for largely strokeless resistance and challenging the home side to find the potency to dislodge him, which they failed to do.

Procter completed his fourth first-class century with his 17th boundary, cut off Rob Yates, in the first over after tea. That Yates, having never before purveyed his off-spin in first-class cricket, was into his 14th over said everything about Warwickshire’s bowling performance. They will hope to welcome Liam Norwell and Henry Brookes back into the attack for the match away to Gloucestershire starting next Saturday.



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No excuses for another slow start as Joe Root lauds fast-bowling ‘battery’

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They may have a poor record at the start of a series, but Joe Root believes England have a “head start” before their first game against Pakistan.

England have, infamously, lost the first Test in eight of their 10 most recent series (excluding the one-off match against Ireland), including the last five. And while they have gone on to win their last two series despite such setbacks, they know that they cannot afford to put themselves at such a disadvantage against a side they have not beaten, home or away, since 2010.

The difference on this occasion is that, having just won a three-match series against West Indies, England should, in Root’s words, be “up to speed” with the pace and demands of Test cricket. Furthermore, two of those games – the two England won – against West Indies were played at the same Emirates Old Trafford where the first Test against Pakistan will take place, allowing England to familiarise themselves with the pitch. And, with England utilising the depth of their seam-bowling resources to ensure none of their fast bowlers were obliged to play in more than two matches, they should be both in rhythm but fresh enough to hit the ground running.

“Having played some competitive Test cricket will serve us well,” Root said. “It will give us a bit of a head start.

“Fortunately, we have three games under our belt coming into this. We played some really good cricket in the last two so the guys are up to speed. We are familiar with the rhythm of Test cricket too, so there is no excuse going into this week. Having good success on this ground in two Test matches will fill our group with a huge amount of confidence.

“We are playing some very good cricket at the minute; as well as we have done for a while. We are used to playing in this environment, having had three games under our belt now, and feel we are starting to emulate our game-plan more consistently. The challenge for us will continue to keep trying to nail that as much as possible and becoming more consistent.”

ALSO READ: England delay team announcement amid Stokes bowling doubt

Pakistan, by contrast, have not played a Test since February. They’d had one first-class game on the tour, but it was an intra-squad encounter which was curtailed by rain and did not see any batsman reach fifty. They also lost their previous Test in Manchester, in 2016, by 330 runs.

Root, however, is aware of Pakistan’s fine overall record – they drew their last two series in England – and is adamant his side should not exhibit any complacency.

“It’s really important we don’t take it for granted,” Root said. “We are very aware Pakistan are a talented team and very up for this series. 

“We are all very aware that, in previous series, we have not got off to the best starts and we have been one-nil down, so the focus this time is trying to get a win early on and trying to drive the series from there. 

“It always feels like hard work when you are behind in the series. We want to make sure we start well this time around. We are very aware of it.”

England’s other advantage is the depth of their seam-bowling resources. In another era, the likes of Craig Overton and Ollie Robinson might well have been opening the bowling in Test cricket. Right now, however, neither can command a place in the squad and there will, at some stage in the series, be some more high-profile omissions.

Continuing doubts over Ben Stokes’ ability to bowl may lead England to stick with the same four-man pace attack they utilised in the final Test against West Indies, although there may also be questions over the inclusion of the spinner Dom Bess ahead of the batsman Zak Crawley. Bess played ahead of Crawley in that game, but did not bowl a ball in either innings. Crawley’s omission also meant Root had to bat at No. 3 – a position he had made clear he would rather avoid, even though he scored a double-century from there against Pakistan in 2016 – and left Jos Buttler at No. 6 and Chris Woakes at No. 7.

Either way, the only man whose inclusion Root would guarantee was Stuart Broad, who claimed 10 for 67 in the previous Test. But he did also suggest at least one of Jofra Archer or Mark Wood would play to ensure the England attack had a pace option.

“Stuart will play tomorrow,” Root said. “Will a fast bowler be included? I think so. We want that balance of attack. It’s something we’ve looked at in the past. Long-term we’re looking at wanting that extra pace and variation. We feel around the world that gives us a lot better chance of taking 20 wickets consistently.”

While Root acknowledged he faced a “really tough call” over the last bowling space, with Woakes, Archer, Anderson and Wood contesting two or three positions, he suggested it was an encouraging reflection of England’s overall depth.

“It’s a really tough call,” Root said. “But if we’re going to become the No. 1 side in the world we’re going to have to have a battery of fast bowlers who can come in and perform. Especially if we are going to play back-to-back Test matches in the series.

“It’s important we have options and can rotate if guys are sore or stiff. For the longevity of this team it’s important we look after our fast bowlers and make smart decisions at the right time, and we’ll get judged on results. It’s tough but good tough.”



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