Thu, 04 Jun 2020

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Australia's captain Tim Paine says the nation's cricketers are aware the delay to their central contracting for next season may well lead to pay cuts, and they accept that such a move would be part of the need to "do our bit" to preserve the game amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He has also conceded that the scheduled Test tour of Bangladesh is looking unlikely, with the ICC yet to deliberate on what will take place should the remaining series of the World Test Championship be delayed or cancelled due to the need to reset for whenever it is safe again to travel around the world for international series.

While Cricket Australia has been highly fortunate in the timing of the pandemic, the governing body and its state association owners have been locked into deep discussions of how to prepare for the broad range of scenarios in front of them, ranging from minimal disruption of next summer to an outlook as bleak as that currently faced by the winter football codes.

Paine, who awoke on Tuesday morning to find his wallet had been stolen after he left it in his car in Hobart after moving it outside to make room for a home gym set-up, said that the players were aware of the fact that they may need to make financial sacrifices to help shore up the wider game, under the terms of their collective agreement with CA that affords them around 26% of Australian Cricket Revenue each season.

"Certainly discussions will start happening in the next week or so," Paine said. "There's obviously the delay in our list announcement if you like. Certainly if things happen similar to what's happened to football and other sports, then we've certainly got to do our bit to make sure the game survives and remains really healthy for years to come.

"If it comes to that, I'm sure that's something that the players will look at. But there are bigger issues going on around the world at the moment than how much our sportsmen are going to get paid. That'll be a small thing to us if that was to happen."

As for Bangladesh, Paine said that time was running short for the series to be able to be played as scheduled, leaving administrators to weigh up what to do next. "At this stage I think you don't have to be Einstein to realise it's probably unlikely to go ahead, particularly in June," Paine said. "Whether it's cancelled completely or its pushed back, we're not quite sure at the moment, but it's a couple of Test matches and if at the end of the day we have to miss them, then so be it.

"I think whether some series have been cancelled, whether one's going forward, or we are going to postpone them [we have to wait and see]... And maybe players are going to go through a period where we play five weeks' cricket [at a stretch] if we can to complete the Test championship.

"I think the players are certainly enjoying that points system and the fact that every Test match counts for something and you are playing towards a premiership if you like. I think all players will be in favour of trying to finish that in any way we can. But again if it doesn't happen as I said there are bigger issues in the world and missing a few Test matches isn't going to hurt us."

Similarly, Paine spoke with equanimity when asked about the likely need for fixture clashes between cricket and football codes should health restrictions for coronavirus be relaxed late this year.

"If that's what happens, that's what happens. We're going through some pretty different circumstances clearly around the world at the moment," Paine said when asked about the Twenty20 World Cup going head-to-head with the AFL. "I think all sporting codes and businesses are going to have to do things slightly differently going forward. Again it's about working together, I think footy and cricket can help each other as much as society can in general in difficult times. For me personally I'd quite like to see both if I'm totally honest."

This week brought an end to Steven Smith's two-year ban from captaincy in the wake of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, and Paine indicated that leadership would likely be a conversation topic with his No. 4 batsman. However he clarified that he had no intention to stand aside early to hand the captaincy reins back to Smith, also pointing out that there were a growing number of options around the national teams.

"I haven't had that conversation with Steve, I probably will at some stage no doubt," Paine said. "But I think if you look at the fact he's captaining Rajasthan Royals, captaining in The Hundred, it's obviously something that he loves doing. So if Steve Smith decides that's the way he wants to go, then I will fully support him in trying to do it again.

"I know it's a really big thing for JL [coach Justin Langer] and [CA chief executive] Kevin Roberts to make sure that we are developing a number of people when the role comes up, whether it's the Test role or when [limited-overs captain] Aaron Finch decides that he's had enough. We've got a number of guys to choose from.

"At the moment, I'd like a Steve Smith who's done it before or ones that are developing like a Travis Head or Alex Carey, Marnus Labuschagne. Pat Cummins is another one. We are starting to build a real depth and that's what we want to do to make sure that when my time's up, there are a number of options."

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