Cricket fans have been urged by former Test captain Kim Hughes to dismiss concerns about a summer without the Ashes despite a stalemate in talks over a new pay deal for Australia’s professional cricketers.
The ongoing pay war in cricket being waged between the administrative body (Cricket Australia) and the players has left them out of contract and unemployed.
Both parties failed to come to a resolution by a June 30 deadline and for the first time the Australian cricket team failed to tour overseas due to a contractual dispute.
But while Australia A’s tour of South Africa did not go ahead, all the talk surrounding a potential player boycott of the Ashes is just that – talk – according to Hughes, who says he is fed up with the posturing from both parties.
“It won’t get to that point,” Hughes, who played 70 Test matches for Australia, told The New Daily.
“Cricket can’t allow it to get to that point where we don’t have an Ashes series.
“The posturing in public is a very bad look though – and Joe Blow doesn’t want to know about it.
“The Ashes is the most important series we’ve got and it would do irreparable damage if it doesn’t go ahead.
“I can’t imagine anything worse in cricket. It would just be obscene.”
Hughes said that the ongoing nature of the saga was “an absolute disaster” and that Cricket Australia had handled the situation “very, very poorly”.
“Cricket Australia got things off to a bad start, targeting the top five paid players in an underhanded way [they offered star players separate contracts],” he said.
“They thought ‘we’ll get them with big money and the others will follow’. I don’t think they did that in good faith.
“And the fact that (Cricket Australia CEO) James Sutherland was not involved in (contract talks) from day one is just incredible. He’s got to be involved at the start.
“It looks like there’s some movement now, but for it to take eight, nine, 10 months – it’s just diabolical.”
That movement Hughes refers to came on Sunday when the ACA announced they had presented a ‘peace plan’ to Cricket Australia that suggested a modification in revenue sharing, and the players accepting “lower end revenue scenarios”.
The mess is far from clear, though, and Hughes feels both parties have let down the sporting public, resulting in an extremely poor look for the game.
“It’s going to take a long while for the dirty water to pass and for the public to regain faith and belief in cricket,” he said.
“The public are sick to death of this. They are confused.
“We’ve got women’s cricket booming now but there’s a lot of money that they need for facilities. Grounds need updating.
“Cricket has real challenges in front of it.”
Hughes did not absolve the players of blame, either, questioning the worth of public statements on social media.
Australia batsman David Warner took to Twitter on Monday, posting a funding pledge for grassroots cricket in an attempt to curry favour with fans.
Not sure the players can do much more to solve the dispute. We're really proud to offer up to an extra $30million for grassroots #fairshare
— David Warner (@davidwarner31) July 24, 2017
Hughes said: “They don’t need to do it on bloody Twitter.
“What value does that add? When it comes time to announce (a deal), that’s when Alastair Nicholson should say that (funding pledge).”