In the lead-up to the draft, there had already been rumblings of discontent from local players about the difference between what the top Australian earners can currently get from the BBL compared to the overseas stars. The top local contract is worth around A$200,000 (US$137,753 approx.) for a 14-game regular season.
That is certain to change when the new MoU is thrashed out in the coming months, and there is broadly an understanding that this season is about doing whatever it takes to get the BBL back on track after two difficult years, but Smith confirmed there was unease around the game.
“I think [the draft] is interesting, I don’t know what the best way forward is,” he said. “In terms of tournaments around the world, you have to look after your local players most importantly.
“And seeing some of the players who are coming out for big cash, I know a few of the local players, that are big players, are a little bit disappointed in terms of remuneration for the tournament. I think there’s going to have to be a way around that to keep your local players happy. I’m sure it is something to look at.”
David Warner will appear for Sydney Thunder after signing a big-money deal, which matches the platinum level, after having been courted by the ILT20.
“My T20 cricket hasn’t been as good as I would like it to be, so I wanted to get some work in and to not be allowed to play in my domestic tournament was the most disappointing thing for me”
Steven Smith, on being barred from playing for Sydney Sixers last season
“Honestly, last year the most disappointing aspect was the series [against New Zealand] got cancelled and there was a window there for me to play some white-ball cricket in the lead up to the Sri Lanka series,” he said. “I wanted to play some domestic cricket in our domestic tournament to get some work in for that. My T20 cricket hasn’t been as good as I would like it to be, so I wanted to get some work in and to not be allowed to play in my domestic tournament was the most disappointing thing for me.”
Last month, Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Todd Greenberg said that the players knew they would benefit from a successful BBL, but the tournament needed to be fair.
“Players care about the game, they want to be partners,” he told the Australian. “They understand the long-term impacts of broadcast revenues, but to be part of that it has to go both ways. It’s a competitive marketplace, and it is getting more competitive by the minute.
“We want our best players playing, but we want them paid appropriately.”
While Smith said that he was not looking at overseas leagues, he was cryptic about what he may do in the BBL window, soon after which Australia head to India for four Tests.
“I’m just keeping my options open at the moment, there’s a few things I could possibly do,” he said. “I’ll see what happens.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo