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"We'll all be jumping over the cliff together": Australian cricket in crisis

Cricket

The Australian Cricketers' Association is preparing for about 230 players to become unemployed, declaring it's highly improbable the sport's bitter pay conflict will be resolved this week.

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Days after rejecting Cricket Australia’s re-worked offer, players’ union president Greg Dyer reiterated calls for CA chief executive James Sutherland to enter the stalled negotiations that appear set to extend far beyond the June 30 deadline and affect upcoming tours.

“It is extremely likely that as of July 1 we’ll be jumping over the cliff together,” Dyer said today.

The brinkmanship battle between Cricket Australia and the players’ union over pay appears certain to extend into next week, thrusting the game into unknown territory.

The current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) expires on Friday.

There was no movement in stalled negotiations yesterday. Relations between CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) remain frosty to a point where it would be a major surprise if there is any breakthrough this week.

Most insiders all but gave up on the idea of a new deal being signed during this financial year a long time ago.

However, some held out hope of temporary measures being agreed before the June 30 deadline. That now appears unlikely.

Such a scenario would cast doubt on Australia’s participation in future series, starting with next month’s Australia A tour but including this summer’s Ashes.

Talks won’t resume until tomorrow at the earliest – and it is uncertain if the two parties will meet then.

Some domestic and international players will assemble in Sydney on Tuesday for the ACA’s annual charity golf day, which raises funds for past players who have fallen on hard times.

There will obviously be informal chat on the greens about the genuine prospect of unemployment.

A more formal meeting between the ACA executive, which features Aaron Finch and Moises Henriques, and ACA management is likely to follow later in the week should the stalemate remain.

The union has already hatched contingency plans, including financial assistance for some domestic players and an entity that will source commercial sponsors for stars.

Both CA and the ACA claim the ball is in the opposition’s court and they are waiting. Both continue to insist they are committed to a deal being done by Friday.

CA wants ACA to come to the negotiation table. The governing body submitted a rejigged offer to players last Friday; it was rejected later that day but is yet to be discussed in a formal setting.

The ACA wants CA boss James Sutherland to come to the negotiation table. The union asked for chief executive mediation talks last Friday; it’s a request that CA continues to ignore.

Sutherland, with the exception of a fiery email that warned players of the threat of unemployment, has played virtually no part in discussions.

Sutherland’s right-hand man Kevin Roberts has instead headed the negotiation team.

“Meetings between CA and the ACA over the last fortnight have been encouraging,” Roberts wrote to ACA boss Alistair Nicholson last Friday.

Nicholson told players that the leaked email “does not accurately reflect how far apart the parties remain with a week to go”.

-AAP

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