Bill blasts boy­cott idea

Le­gend be­lieves quit­ting Aus­tralia A tour will only hurt young play­ers

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN HORNE

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.

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