Fri, Jun 30, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Series under threat amid pay dispute in Australia cricket

Reuters, MELBOURNE

A bitter pay dispute between Australia’s cricketers and the national board appeared set to remain unresolved by a deadline today, leaving more than 200 players unemployed and upcoming series against Bangladesh and England in jeopardy.

Eleventh-hour talks failed to produce a breakthrough this week and relations have soured to the point that the players’ union is refusing to deal with Cricket Australia’s (CA) lead negotiator.

The Australian Cricketers’ Association has demanded CA’s long-serving chief executive James Sutherland step up to the dealing table and help end a standoff that could ultimately trigger a damaging round of player boycotts.

The pay deal, known as the Memorandum of Understanding, is to expire at midnight today, two days before players selected for an Australia A tour of South Africa are to report for a training camp in Brisbane.

CA has remained silent on Sutherland’s intentions, but high performance boss Pat Howard has made the board’s position clear.

Howard told players in an e-mail on Wednesday not to sign with other sponsors or play in “disapproved” cricket in case it put them “at risk” of a potential, future CA contract.

The sticking point remains the argument over a revenue-sharing scheme that has underpinned contracts for 20 years.

The model has helped make Australia’s cricketers among the best paid in the world, but CA says it no longer fits commercial realities and is robbing the grass-roots of vital funding.

CA made a revised offer to the players last week, its first concession in six months.

However, its pledge to share “international surpluses” with all domestic players fell short of the union’s demand for a share of overall revenue and was rejected.

Prominent players, including captain Steve Smith, have been vocal in backing the union’s stance, but their resolve will not truly be tested until they wake up tomorrow morning with no deal on the table.

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