DEAL HALTS PAY WAR Agree­ment af­ter week­end of in­tense talks puts Ashes back on track

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN HORNE

CRICKET’S fi­nally over.

Af­ter months of rage and back­bit­ing, Cricket Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive James Suther­land and his Aus­tralian Crick­eters As­so­ci­a­tion coun­ter­part Alis­tair Ni­chol­son have agreed on all key terms and are set to an­nounce at a joint press con­fer­ence as early as to­day that a pay deal has been reached.

Only a mon­u­men­tal last­minute span­ner in the works could de­rail a fi­nal agree­ment be­ing signed off now af­ter both un­civil war is par­ties were last night work­ing fever­ishly on fi­nal­is­ing the very last de­tails and aim­ing for a dec­la­ra­tion to be made to­day in Mel­bourne.

De­spite – or per­haps due to – the im­mi­nent threat of court ar­bi­tra­tion, the Ashes have been saved and Steve Smith will all but cer­tainly be lead­ing his Test team to Bangladesh in late Au­gust.

It’s un­der­stood the play­ers will get a rev­enue share model in the new mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing, but with a sig­nif­i­cant makeover that Cricket Aus­tralia be­lieves will al­low them more fi­nan­cial flex­i­bil­ity to ad­min­is­ter to the grass­roots of the game.

The ACA’s other non- ne­go­tiable was to in­sist on back pay, and it ap­pears CA has also been will­ing to make this com­pro­mise in the in­ter­ests of shak­ing hands on this messy af­fair. Back pay to cover the salaries of male and fe­male play­ers left un­con­tracted since June 30 will cost CA a cou­ple of mil­lion dol­lars, but it’s noth­ing com­pared with the ir­repara­ble dam­age that was hang­ing over the game if com­mer­cial part­ners walked away, and the Ashes was com­pro­mised.

That’s not to say that the nine- month saga hasn’t left enor­mous dam­age.

Re­cently re­tired greats Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson have al­ready com­mu­ni­cated their fears that re- la­tion­ships and trust be­tween play­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors have been left bro­ken.

An Aus­tralia A tour to South Africa was sac­ri­ficed and only time will tell the im­pact that will have on the ca­reer as­pi­ra­tions of Us­man Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell and on the Ashes prepa­ra­tions of the Test team.

In­tense ne­go­ti­a­tions taken place since Fri­day.

The two par­ties were locked in a room un­til af­ter mid­night on Sun­day and were back ne­go­ti­at­ing by 10am yes­ter­day.

It was the surest sign yet the have CA and the ACA were rock­et­ing to­wards a res­o­lu­tion and there was a united fo­cus that had been lack­ing for the past nine months.

It is un­der­stood key is­sues such as rev­enue share, back pay and the ad­just­ment ledger have been thrashed out and both par­ties are com­fort­able an un­der­stand­ing has been reached. All the im­por­tant num­bers have been crunched and the back has been bro­ken on a dis­pute that has been the most sig­nif­i­cant the game has en­coun­tered since World Se­ries Cricket.

BIG HIT­TERS: De­an­dra Dot­tin hits out for the Bris­bane Heat dur­ing a WBBL clash at the Gabba last sum­mer.

PEACE: ACA’s Alis­tair Ni­chol­son and CA’s James Suther­land.

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