Cricket Australia rebuffs rival league, sticks by ICC

Cricket Australia rebuffs rival league, sticks by ICC

Cricket Australia (CA) chairman Wally Edwards on Friday stressed that its players earn as much money as proposed by a rival world cricket body, whose establishment is much speculated about in media, and committed his organisation to the ICC.

As details continue to emerge of plans by the India-based Essel Group, founded and owned by billionaire businessman Subhash Chandra, to establish a new world cricket body in competition to the International Cricket Council (ICC), there have been reports of huge potential pay cheques for high-profile Australia players.

According to reports, current Test captain Michael Clarke and opener David Warner could receive offers in the vicinity of $50 million in return for signing a 10-year contract if the Essel venture is to go ahead.

Edwards indicated that as lofty as that figure appeared ($5 million per year), it was not significantly different to the current earnings of Australia's top players, believed to be around $4 million per annum.

"We are aware of the reports around a rebel league and they remain highly speculative, particularly given the proposed scale and complexity," Edwards said.

"Australian cricket has never been in better health. Record crowds, TV audiences, grassroot participation and commercial support continue to drive record revenue which means player payments have never been higher and will only increase."

Edwards added that Australian cricketers are the highest-paid athletes in their country.

"As it stands, Australia's cricketers are the highest-paid athletes of any team sport in the country and the earnings of our top-ranked players would already be close to the numbers referenced," he said.

"But our pay structure is broader than that. It's about supporting professional cricket at both international and domestic level. The success of international cricket directly subsidises the wages of state cricketers. Any proposed rebel league would jeopardise that."

"Most of Australian cricket's revenue is reinvested back into the sport, strengthening it for the 1.1 million players at grassroots level around the country," he added.

Come what may, Edwards said they will be committed to the ICC "to protect the interests of the game globally."

While other details of the rival entity and launch date have not been revealed, the architect of the hugely successful Indian Premier League (IPL) Lalit Modi has confirmed that he was involved in discussions about the proposal, but opted out of any direct involvement.

The IPL's founding commissioner, who was subsequently banned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said he was involved in discussions with Essel over several months but pulled out because he did not believe the proposal was viable.

Modi had played a key role in the demise of Essel's erstwhile Indian Cricket League (ICL), which existed between 2007 and 2009.

In an interview to The Guardian, Modi described Essel's venture as "a foolish plan at the moment" but warned the ICC not to underestimate Chandra.

"I looked at the plan and discussed it. We had conversations for months but I usually don't touch something I cannot deliver, and this I cannot. It's not something you can just do and launch; it will take years and it won't happen overnight," Modi said.

"It is not putting a tournament together, it's about building the sport from the grassroots up. You have to understand Subhash Chandra as a man. If you do, you will know he goes after what he wants and he does not stop."

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