Melbourne: The chairman of Australia's professional cricketers' union has lambasted the national board's cost-cutting measures in response to the new coronavirus outbreak, saying they could have "disastrous" consequences for the game over the long term.
Cricket Australia furloughed about 80% of its staff and said it had suffered a A$20 million ($13 million) fall in revenue due to COVID-19, despite the pandemic hitting at the end of the season.
The board is also pushing member states to agree cuts to their grants and is in talks with players about adjusting pay.
Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) Chairman Greg Dyer questioned the board's gloomy financial outlook, saying the game had "yet to experience a significant negative revenue event."
"It should be in a relatively strong financial position, particularly relative to the winter sports, and with the benefit of time should emerge with a distinct advantage to other sports who’ve been caught directly in COVID's crosshairs," Dyer said on the ACA's website https://www.auscricket.com.au/news-media/news-articles/slash-and-burn-risks-squandering-crickets-unique-opportunity.
"Now is not the time to diminish the game, but instead .... seize the moment and improve it."
CA Chief Executive Kevin Roberts said last month the board could suffer a revenue hit of hundreds of millions of dollars if India were unable to tour in the home summer.
However, the tour's chances of going ahead have been boosted by Australia's success in reducing COVID-19 infections to a trickle over the past month.
Dyer said cost-cutting at state and grass-roots levels would have "disastrous long-term consequences on the health of the game" and took aim at CA's centralised high performance programme.
"That at the first sign of a headwind states are being asked to take significant cuts, which are in turn filtering down to local cricket, suggests that something is horribly wrong with the current model," he said.
CA did not provide immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.