Players consider S Africa tour boycott over talks breakdown
The Australian Cricketers’ Association executive meets today to decide whether players will boycott this month’s Australia A tour to South Africa after a failure to strike a new pay deal with Cricket Australia.
CA and the players’ union both confirmed they had failed to reach an agreement on a new Memorandum of Understanding before Friday’s deadline, leaving players unemployed and threatening fixtures including this year’s Ashes series. The ACA likened the rancorous split in Australian cricket as the worst since the tempestuous days of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket revolution of the 1970s.
Leading fast bowler Josh Hazlewood said the breakdown in pay negotiations has left a bitter taste with the players, adding “we are, obviously, willing to do what we need to.”
The players’ union said it will meet in Sydney today to discuss a more detailed response to the contract standoff.
Among the issues that will be canvassed will be the availability of players for the Australia A tour to South Africa scheduled to begin on July 8, the ACA said and the employment rights for the more than 200 players now out of contract and unemployed as of yesterday.
ACA Chief Executive Alistair Nicholson said the union had planned for the possibility that no deal would be reached and had put in place a number of measures to deal with the associated contingencies. Among them have been the establishment of a players’ support fund to lend direct financial assistance to those out-of-contract men and women. Nicholson said the availability of players for the upcoming Australia A Tour of South Africa would also be discussed at the meeting. Hazlewood said waking up effectively unemployed on Saturday was “a different feel”.
“To be contracted for the best part of 10 years, nearly for me, it’s going to be a different stage and we’ll see how it pans out,” Hazlewood told Fairfax Media.
Along with the players, fixtures are also at risk including Australia’s Test tour to Bangladesh from August, the one-day international series in India in September and the home Ashes series against England later this year. CA and the players’ union have hit an impasse after the board attempted to scrap the 20-year-old arrangement of giving players a fixed share of revenues, in favour of dividing surpluses amongst elite players and offering a pay rise. Leading players hit out at the move to scrap revenue-sharing, with Australia batsman David Warner insisting they “won’t budge” and threatening strike action during the Ashes.
Following the missed deadline, players who are on multi-year contracts that go beyond June 30 will continue to be paid, and will be required to play and train as before.
Players were due to assemble in Brisbane for training tomorrow ahead of the South Africa trip. The first tour match is supposed to start on July 12. Australia’s women’s team are currently competing in the World Cup in England, but they have a special contract that will run until the tournament is complete. — AFP