Smith was one of Australia’s most bitter rivals during a stellar career, the highlight of which arguably came in 2008 when he led the Proteas to their first-ever Test series win in Australia.
As a youngster, the opener put Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne’s noses out of joint when he publicly complained about Australia’s sledging.
More recently, he upset Steve Smith last summer with a stinging critique of Australia’s culture amid a five-Test losing streak.
But overnight, Graeme Smith leapt to the defence of his namesake and the hundreds of unemployed Australian cricketers embroiled in the current saga.
“I was part of a revenue-share partnership model for many years as a player and this was a critical factor in fostering the relationship between board and players,” Smith said in a statement issued by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA).
“In the current cricket environment where players have other options I don’t understand why a board would want to change a partnership that has proved to be successful.”
Smith is one of two independent FICA board members.
The other is former Southern Stars allrounder Lisa Sthalekar, who also sits on the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) executive.
“It has been heartening to see the unity shown from the male and female players across Australia at a time when they have come under immense pressure,” Sthalekar said in the FICA statement.
“I know there is a lot of support around the world for the principled stance they are taking to maintain a genuine partnership for all players, not just a few.”
The previous Memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Cricket Australia (CA) and the ACA expired on June 30. The two parties have hardly negotiated in recent months because they remain deadlocked over the issue of revenue sharing.
The governing body wants to scrap the model that has shaped players’ salaries since the first MoU was agreed 20 years ago.
CA boss James Sutherland continues to ignore the union’s pleas for him to enter emergency mediation.
This month’s Australia A tour to South Africa is set to be boycotted because of the pay stoush. Upcoming tours to Bangladesh and India, plus this summer’s Ashes, could also be affected unless the impasse ends.
CA have reportedly warned Cricket South Africa the tour may not go ahead with the latter’s chief executive Haroon Lorgat confirming they were already making contingency plans.
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