By July 1 last year, the Australian Cricketers Association and Cricket Australia (CA) had failed to come to an agreement regarding new terms of employment, resulting in CA having no professional cricketers in its employ. For nine months prior, there’d been offer and counter offer, statements, accusations and bitterness, all played out through the media.
The whole episode was ugly, drawn out and very public, leaving fans unsure of the security of the game under the current administration, and at times, wondering whether there would be any cricket to watch this summer.
The prospect of an Australian summer without Test and other professional cricket matches was a nightmarish one to many, particularly if it was due to something as ugly as money. The game, and its place in our society, provides much more than a sporting spectacle to so many.
Cricket offers entertainment, a chance to participate, a chance to feel part of something, a chance to be included and a chance to bring people together. Cricket Australia’s much-touted catch phrase of A Sport for All, was in danger of becoming No Sport for Any.
In due course, agreement was finally realised on 2 August 2017, but in the interim, the uncertainty caused by the gulf between Australia’s professional cricketers and the sport’s governing body had a knock-on effect in terms of sponsorship, and professional cricketers’ participation in community engagement activities in the cricket pre-season.
What could the deeper implications of this have been? If they had taken even longer to reach an agreement, or not got there at all, how would the lack of the game have impacted us?
To better understand this, Dylan Nichols met with a range of people who play, have played, watch or have watched cricket to better understand what the game means to them, and what impact a summer (or longer) without it would have.