NZ cricketers set for financial boost

Kane Williamson in action for New Zealand. Photo: Getty Images
Kane Williamson is one of many New Zealand cricketers who will benefit from the new Master Agreement. Photo: Reuters
The country's international and provincial cricketers are set to get a financial boost with the new Master Agreement.

New Zealand Cricket and the New Zealand Cricket Players Association are close to signing on together for the next four years, with the players expected to earn a fixed revenue share of 26.5% as part of the player pool.

That's an increase of 1.5% on what they received under the previous 2010-18 deal which could be in the vicinity of $1 million overall for player earnings. Further bonuses might present if NZC surpass annual revenue forecasts.

If the trend is a gauge, New Zealand Cricket's 20 annual retainer contracts currently range in the vicinity of $215,000 at the top to approximately $89,000 at the bottom. Black Caps earn about $8500 per test, $3700 per ODI and $2400 per T20I. Those will scale upwards until 2022.

Other tweaks to the previous document include an enhanced New Zealand A programme - provided there's co-operation from other countries - and the addition of five extra contracted players per year, up from 111 to 116. Centrally-contracted players decreased from 21 to 20 this year, but the numbers per major association squad rose from 15 to 16.

The deal is expected to be ratified within a fortnight. The current eight-year agreement, which featured a fixed salary rather than revenue share model, ends on July 31.

The NZC-NZCPA deal bears a likeness to what Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association achieved in August – they moved from 26 to 27.5% - but without the rancour. The damage to trust generated from those protracted negotiations will take years to repair.

South Africa's players and administrators also endured delays this time around, while ironing out areas of conjecture.

Discussions between NZC and the NZCPA are understood to have been robust, but without the bust-ups of the past like 2002.

On that occasion a peace accord was reached after six weeks of negotiation on November 11 - Armistice Day appropriately enough - which changed the face of cricket in this country. However, the relationships between players, administrators and fans had been pushed to the brink.

The current negotiations began on a solid footing. NZC have experienced a gilded run in recent years under the leadership of former captain Brendon McCullum, current skipper Kane Williamson and outgoing coach Mike Hesson. They would be loath to fritter that goodwill away, as long as it came within an affordable set-up.

Players sought a system consisting of fair incomes, ground standards, and a future voice in running the game.

Fans should be grateful, too. Whole seasons of American sport have been lost when such situations turn fractious.

However, those professional sports offer further evidence of the revenue share model in action.

The National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball have arrangements which see players reap anywhere from 47% (NFL) to 52% (MLB) of the pie.

By comparison, the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association negotiated a 36.5% revenue share with New Zealand Rugby in December last year.

It's uncertain whether women feature under the current cricket deal, as they did in Australia.

NZC and the NZCPA are in the midst of a three-year memorandum of understanding –signed in August 2016 - which saw 15 women awarded annual contracts ranging from $20,000 to $34,000 with match fees of $400 for ODIs and $300 for T20Is, and an annual superannuation payment of $2500.

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