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More than 200 Australian cricketers out of work from midnight

Cricket

Hopes of a last-minute ceasefire that could prevent hundreds of Australian cricketers from becoming unemployed are fading fast.

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The current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) expires at midnight.

There is no prospect of a new MoU being finalised soon. The two parties remain deadlocked over the issue of revenue sharing and negotiations have stalled for months.

A temporary solution could potentially be more palatable for both CA and the ACA, while saving the sport a degree of ignominy in the eyes of many fans left bewildered by the lack of progress in the saga.

But it would require both sides to sit down and talk, something that is yet to happen this week and as of this morning appeared highly unlikely.

The next major development is instead expected to occur on Sunday, when the ACA board and executive are set to hold an unprecedented meeting in Sydney. Players will discuss their next steps in the bitter stalemate.

ACA remain adamant CA boss James Sutherland should enter emergency mediation and take charge of the spat.

Sutherland was back in CA’s Jolimont office yesterday, having recently returned from a trip to England for International Cricket Council meetings.

It’s understood he spoke with CA’s negotiation team and reaffirmed to Kevin Roberts that he is in no danger of losing the title of lead negotiator.

Roberts has adopted a hardline stance in his dealings with the union, rubbing many players the wrong way.

CA wants the union to come to the table and discus the merits and pitfalls of its rejigged offer that was emailed to ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson last Friday. The union rejected that offer on the same day it was submitted.

If the two parties are unable to agree on stop-gap measures then more than 200 cricketers will be out of work tomorrow.

This summer’s Ashes will be at threat if the situation is not advanced before November, a point that vice-captain David Warner has repeatedly made in interviews during recent months.

CA has paid the women’s World Cup squad in advance for the entire ongoing tournament. It means the most pressing series at risk is next month’s Australia A tour of South Africa, with players set to assemble in Brisbane for training on Monday.

CA could hand out-of-contract stars like Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja tour contracts that would ensure their participation in that series.

The other extreme would be a boycott of the trip altogether, unprecedented action that would require every player on multi-year state deals to strike.

CA and ACA are yet to discuss what to do about the South Africa trip in detail. The union has made it clear it would like to see some progress in talks before agreeing to temporary measures.

Meanwhile, Australian skipper Meg Lanning led the Southern Stars to chase down a record target of 258 to beat Sri Lanka and seal a second successive win at the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

Lanning scored an imperious 152 not out as Australia raced to 2-262 inside 44 overs to win by eight wickets.

However, her fine innings was overshadowed by a brilliant unbeaten 178 from Sri Lanka’s Chamari Atapattu.

Atapattu was one of only three players in her side to reach double figures, but struck the highest-ever score by a female player against Australia in a record-breaking knock that included six sixes and 22 fours.

It was also the highest proportion of runs scored by an individual in a women’s ODI.

“It was a very special innings from Atapattu,” Lanning said.

“We tried all sorts of different things to slow her down and get her out but she was too good for us today.

“Some of those shots she played were incredible and well done to her. It was one of the great knocks.”

Buoyed by the fireworks of their No.3 batswoman, Sri Lanka dismissed Australia opener Beth Mooney for a duck in the first over.

Nicole Bolton was lucky not to follow her back to the pavilion shortly after as wicketkeeper Prasadani Weerakkody dropped a simple catch when she was on five.

But it proved to be the only alarm for the world champions as Lanning underlined her status as the world’s best batswoman with her 11th ODI ton after putting on 133 for the second wicket with Bolton (60).

After Bolton’s dismissal she was joined at the crease by Elysse Perry, who scored 39 not out, with the skipper smashing a six to seal the win and bring up the biggest score of her international career.

“I thought we were good in patches with the bat and ball but it wasn’t our best performance,” she said.

“At the moment the wickets and the grounds are conducive to scoring runs and as soon as you get any width you feel you can free your hands.

“We were confident of chasing it down and although they got a few more than we would have liked, with our batting line-up and a good wicket we thought we could win.

“Once we set that base, Bolts and I, we knew we’d be able to chase it down.”

Australia’s bowlers shared the wickets between them with Perry, Kristen Beams and Bolton bagging two apiece.

Megan Schutt, Ash Gardner and Elyse Vilani each took a wicket.

New Zealand are Australia’s next opponents on Sunday, again at Bristol.

-AAP

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