Australia’s vice-captain David Warner has stuck firm to his assertion that the players are prepared to be absent from this summer’s Ashes if the current pay dispute drags into the six months beyond the June 30 expiry of the MOU between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association.
“I stick firm behind it,” Warner said in London. “If we are unemployed we have no contracts, we can’t play. So, from my point of view and speaking to the guys, we would love to see something happen between now and July 1 and I am sure that it is in the capable hands of the ACA to get to the table with CA and come to some form of an agreement.”
Warner was subjected to plenty of criticism in the wake of his earlier comments about the possibility that CA “might not have a team for the Ashes” if they continued to take a hardline stance on their efforts to break-up the fixed revenue percentage pay model that has existed for the past two decades.
Subsequent reports focused on Warner’s handsome pay packet and its attendant extravagances of property and cars. He noted that a prickly past had prepared him for being able to brush those barbs aside while pushing to ensure that domestic and international players are not divided into separate camps as per CA’s current pay offer.
“It comes with my background and my history with that kind of stuff. So you know, it is water off a duck’s back,” Warner said. “I have a verbal stance, to stick up for all our players, and we are always talking about a fair share and equality. And that’s what we are sticking to.
“People have their own opinions and they can have those opinions, and for me, what has been written about me in the past or what gets written now, I don’t take any notice of that. My full support is with all the guys, and we’re all together.
“We’ve always said from day one that all the support is behind the ACA 100%. They are doing a great job for us. Obviously, from a players’ point of view, we are pretty vocal and upbeat about it. We are pretty sure that they will come to an agreement. But as you know, we are going to be unemployed come July 1. So we have to wait and see and play it out from there.”
In refusing to back down from his words about the Ashes, Warner said that the players were committed to letting the ACA act as their collective bargaining agent and were not entertaining the thought of any direct negotiations with CA. Instead, he said, members of the Champions Trophy squad were hearing of CA’s tactics via media reports.
“Not really. It is only what we hear in the media and that’s how CA have been driving it the whole way,” Warner said. “They have been using the media as a voice and we get that message from there. As you said, we get a couple of emails.”
A rusty display in the rain-curtailed opening match against New Zealand suggested Australia’s players may struggle to keep their minds focused in the midst of the dispute over their futures. However, Warner was adamant that events between the two negotiating teams over the next four weeks would not divert from efforts to win in England.
“For us, we galvanise all the time – it doesn’t matter what is going on outside of the game,” he said. “It is a big thing that we could be unemployed but from us, our job is to play cricket and focus on winning the tournament and not letting our country down in that respect. So as I said, our full mental frame is toward the tournament.”