Australian cricketers move to take back image rights

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Australian cricketers on Wednesday unveiled plans to take back their own image rights, firing the latest salvo in an ongoing pay battle with the country’s cricket board.

It is the latest power play in an increasingly bitter stand-off between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association over a plan to scrap revenue-sharing.

With no end in sight to the impasse and the current deal expiring on June 30, the ACA disclosed plans to form a new business to help male and female players directly negotiate sponsorship deals.

Establishing “The Cricketers’ Brand”, designed to manage and commercialise player’s intellectual property rights, was necessary due to “the uncertainty of all parties regarding IP matters should the players be unemployed post June 30”.

“When players are threatened with unemployment and when they learn they receive zero percent of the digital revenue they generate they are naturally concerned,” said ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson.

“The Cricketers’ Brand has been established to better manage these concerns and those of all affected parties.”

To be launched on July 1, it would see all media, advertising and promotional deals controlled by the ACA, not CA as they currently are.

Tim Cruickshank, appointed general manager of the new company, said it was about players taking back control.

“Across all categories, whether in-game access by broadcasters, sponsors, licensed products, appearances or merchandising, the players have been pivotal to the growth in the revenue in Australian cricket; both on and off the field,” he said.

“This is about securing a fair share for the men and women who play the game by taking greater control of their own intellectual property.

“The ACA has identified that the players themselves deserve to help share in, and grow this further.”

The decision comes with CA determined to scrap revenue-sharing after 20 years, saying more funds were needed for the game’s grassroots, and that the offer it has on the table provided handsomely for players.

But the ACA is equally resolved to keep revenue-sharing, saying the system was not broken and did not need fixing.

The stand-off has seen players including vice-captain David Warner suggesting potential strike action during the showpiece Ashes series against England this year, although coach Darren Lehmann has played this down.

Provided by AFP

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Kohli claims Champions Trophy is more competitive than World Cup

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Indian skipper Virat Kohli said Wednesday his side would be ruthless in defending their Champions Trophy title next month, describing the competition as tougher even than the World Cup.

India won the last Champions Trophy in 2013 and head into June’s tournament in England and Wales as favourites after a hugely successful home season with 10 Test wins.

They are number one in the Test rankings after series victories over New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia, and hope to carry that form into the 50-over Champions Trophy event.

“The hunger to win and ruthlessness is what we speak about all the time. In Test cricket we have done well with that mindset,” Kohli told reporters in Mumbai before the squad’s departure for England.

“That goes a long way in a tournament like this. If we think in that manner, we will get the results we want more often than not.”

India will play South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Group B, while England, Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand form Group A. The two top sides from each group will progress to the semi-finals.

Kohli, who was part of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side in 2013 that claimed the Trophy, said the eight-team event offered little room for error.

“I think because the tournament is much shorter and you have got top eight teams in the world, the competitiveness is much higher from the word go,” said Kohli.

“In a World Cup you have league games and you have time to get into the tournament and dominate in the later half. But in Champions Trophy you need to be on the top of your game from game one. If not, then your chances go down pretty soon.”

India have retained eight members of their title-winning squad that overcame England in 2013.

Kohli described wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni and veteran batsman Yuvraj Singh as “the two pillars” of the current Indian side.

“They have so much experience that if you give them freedom to play their own game in the middle order then I am sure they are the best judge of how to win a game,” said Kohli, who assumed the one-day international captaincy from Dhoni in January.


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Ashes rivals Stokes and Smith cherish time together

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Friends on and off the field.

Fraternising with the enemy may be frowned upon in some sporting circles but England’s Ben Stokes admits he was happy to take tips from Australia captain Steve Smith during the Indian Premier League.

Come November 23 at the Gabba the pair will be on opposite sides of cricket’s oldest rivalry, competing in the first Test of the Ashes, but for much of the last six weeks they have been sharing the Rising Pune Supergiant’s dressing room.

Stokes was named the competition’s most valuable player after scoring 316 runs and taking 12 wickets for the eventual runners-up, but was happy to accept advice from an unlikely Antipodean ally in the nets.

“Once you get in the same team together you obviously want the same goal, which is to win, and if a guy wants to improve on something and another guy has a tip that can help they are obviously going to share that with you,” said Stokes, England’s Test vice-captain.

“I remember doing a batting session with some power hitting towards the end where the guy who I will actually be playing against in the Ashes (Smith) was helping me, which is something that you would never be able to fathom when you are playing against each other.

“From the hype around England against Australia, then playing with him….it was really good actually.

“You have got two guys who are going to play each other, who want to be winning and have their own ways of going about it, who end up working together – the IPL is probably the only place where you get that. You just get knowledge from your team-mates whether they be Indian, Australian, South African or whatever it is, which is the great thing about the IPL.”

Asked if Smith’s insights were entirely authentic, a grinning Stokes added: “It would be a good tactic if he wasn’t!”

As well as expanding Stokes’ network of contacts, his £1.7million deal with Pune has seen his status as one of the game’s global elite soar. His name will be high on the list of franchises the world over and he can expect an even bigger payday in next year’s draft.

And while he may be able to wander the streets of Headingley, where the Royal London One-Day series against South Africa gets under way on Wednesday, without too much trouble, he is now a fully fledged sub-continental celebrity.

“You can walk across the road here and get a coffee without “selfie, selfie, selfie” and this kind of stuff,” he said. “Cricket is a religion out in India and it’s completely different to England. They go mad for it.

“They’ll queue up for five hours just to get a seat just to see ( Pune team-mate) MS Dhoni walk out onto the pitch. It’s an amazing place to experience but I just think it’s different wherever you go in the world and India is obviously the extreme of it.”

The terms of Stokes’ release by the England and Wales Cricket Board meant he was unable to feature in the semi or final for Pune, instead joining up with Trevor Bayliss’ squad for a get together in Andalucia ahead of a packed international summer.

Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen, commentating at the IPL, was aghast that Stokes and Jos Buttler, who played for eventual champions Mumbai Indians, were not allowed to feature in showpiece because of “beers in Spain “.

Stokes used the same three words to caption an Instagram video of a group gym session at the camp and insists the time was not wasted.

“I think there was a lot of criticism about that purely because it was in Spain. If we’d done something like that in England I don’t think there would have been a bean said at all,” he said.

“We did a lot of fitness work, fielding work and a lot of team bonding stuff whether that be golf in the morning, quiz at night time. I think the whole thing got blown up because it was in Spain and obviously you associate Spain with sunshine, beer, parties and not hard work. But we did a lot of hard work.

“There was a lot of stuff around saying I should have been able to play (in the final) but it was agreed from the start…that was as long as I was going to stay regardless of what happened. “Playing for England is always the main priority in decisions like that, it was made very clear at the start of the tournament.”

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