Bill blasts boycott idea
Legend believes quitting Australia A tour will only hurt young players
TEST legend Bill Lawry has called on the players’ association to backflip on their plan to boycott this month’s Australia A tour of South Africa.
Channel Nine heavies gathered in Sydney yesterday to launch an Ashes summer that inexplicably, at this stage, is far from being secure as the pay deal debacle drags on well past deadline.
Former Test captain Michael Clarke fears the reputation Australia has built as the world benchmark for how cricket should be run is under threat and is adamant the best solution at this protracted stage is for both parties to roll the current Memorandum of Understanding over for another 12 months, take negotiations strictly behind closed doors and allow events like the current women’s World Cup and the summer Ashes to be given the attention they deserve.
Lawry said that along with fans the most immediate victims of the ugly saga were the likes of Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell and Jackson Bird, who – despite training in Brisbane this week – are set to be robbed of a chance to play for Australia A and put their name up in lights for an Ashes berth.
Khawaja wants to reclaim his position in Australia’s top four to face the old enemy, yet incredibly he has not faced a ball since January 20. Maxwell now won’t have a chance to show his wares on Gabba- like pitches in South Africa and prove he isn’t just a subcontinental specialist at No. 6, and Bird can’t demand selection as the third fast bowler for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh.
The Australian Cricketers Association say that unless an MOU is struck by Friday – when Australia A are scheduled to fly out to South Africa – they feel they’ve been left with little choice but to abandon the Australia A tour as they strive to send a message to a stubborn Cricket Australia that negotiations must progress, or else.
However, Lawry, a life member of the ACA and a proud unionist, says boycotting is the wrong approach.
“Personally, if I was one of the young players on the Australia A tour I’d be very, very unhappy if it doesn’t happen because this is their opportunity to put their hand up and say ‘ I’m the next cab off the rank’,” Lawry said.
“It’s something the ACA and the senior players who are saying, ‘ we’re behind you’, should be really thinking ( about). Are they going to deny a young 19- year- old an opportunity they’ve had ( in the past) to take the next step forward? That’s the most important thing. They really should go.”
Australia A coach Jason Gillespie said from training camp in Brisbane yesterday that he hopes for a solution.
“I’d like to think the two sides can get together and come to a resolution and we can get on that plane and go to South Africa,” he said.
“Players would love to play cricket.”
Clarke was Australian captain when the last MOU negotiation back in 2011 was rolled over a year to be signed off on in 2012, and he asked why the same thing can’t happen in this crisis situation.
Cricket legend Bill Lawry.