Steve Smith’s Ashes-winning Australian team will collect a bonus of nearly $1 million if they can complete a 5-0 whitewash of England in the final two matches of the Test series in Melbourne and Sydney.
The Australians left Perth on Tuesday glowing after reaching an unassailable 3-0 lead with a comprehensive victory in the third Test, regaining the title they surrendered on their tour of England in 2015.
The result automatically triggered a $432,000 series-win bonus and the members of the squad stand to pocket further financial reward for winning back possession of the urn.
There is an additional pool of $438,000 available to the Australians for match-win bonuses in the Ashes. They have already secured a majority of that by winning three out of the five matches but can grab the lot if they complete victories in the Boxing Day Test and in the first week of January at the SCG.
The bonuses were thrashed out during the long and bitterly fought pay negotiation between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association that was resolved in August.
Under the terms of the new five-year memorandum of understanding, the players retained their guaranteed share of the game’s revenue, which is at its greatest during a home Ashes summer, and also won a new incentive scheme that offered lucrative reward for major series victories.
The richest of the bonuses under the new structure are available against opposition countries ranked in the top four on the International Cricket Council Test rankings, as England were entering this series. And with match-win bonuses built in on top of players’ retainers and match payments, the five-Test Ashes series provides an even greater opportunity to cash in.
The pending windfall provides more motivation for Smith’s side to clean-sweep the tourists in the final two matches.
They will be feeling driven towards repeating the feat of Michael Clarke’s team in 2013-14, with only Smith, David Warner and Nathan Lyon having experienced that famous whitewash.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann said the team would not be taking its foot off the pedal, but could now approach the rest of the series free from much of the pressure that built in the lead-up to the summer.
“It’s a lot more relaxed, which is a good thing,” Lehmann said. “Ashes cricket is high pressure, everybody is nervous every ball, every session.
“It’s been that way for 15 days so far, so they can go and express themselves a little bit more. We’ll be playing the same brand of cricket but obviously with less pressure on us. It will be interesting to see how we respond to that. Boxing Day and SCG are fantastic Test matches to be a part of.”
The Australians will head to Melbourne after two days’ break, aiming for a 5-0 result but not taking it for granted. Lehmann said Joe Root’s tourists had been closer to the hosts than the final margins – the latest an innings and 41-run defeat – suggested.
“It was extremely satisfying for the lads … they’ve worked so hard over the last few months to get the prep right, the way we played,” Lehmann said.
“The planning came together, so all credit to the players and the support staff were fantastic. The work behind the scenes was great. I’ve loved the way we have gone about it in all three Tests.
“It was a lot closer than what the scores relate to. Certainly in Brisbane they had the upper hand at certain stages, but the captain was brilliant there. Obviously the bowlers were great in the second innings to get the job done.
“Adelaide was close and this one – albeit by an innings – it was still close, it come down to magnificent bowling from our quicks on the last day.”
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