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Hopes Bangladesh tour can be salvaged in pay impasse

Cricket

Hope is growing that Australia’s Test tour of Bangladesh will proceed as planned, with cricket’s warring parties locked in deep negotiations on a new pay deal.

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There was no genuine progress in the first half of the year in the bitter industrial standoff between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA). The warring parties rarely met and played out what Test great Jason Gillespie dubbed a disappointing “tit for tat in the media”.

Recent weeks have been far more productive. CA chief executive James Sutherland and ACA counterpart Alistair Nicholson met in person last Sunday and talked at length about a range of issues.

The governing body and players’ union are wrangling over redrafted documents instead of swapping barbs in public.

There is still a lot to work through but dialogue continued on Monday and Tuesday between Sutherland and Nicholson. It has filled some insiders with hope the baggy green will not be embroiled in the sorry saga.

The most-optimistic view is that an in-principle agreement could be reached as early as this week. A routine pre-tour reconnaissance visit to Bangladesh started on Monday and was being carried out this week as per normal, with CA and the ACA both involved.

Equally, the prospect of Australia failing to tour Bangladesh because of the impasse remains very much in play.

Steve Smith’s side is due to depart on August 18. It is a deadline both CA and the ACA are keenly aware of.

Smith spoke on Monday with his 13-man Test squad, reaffirming they will not board the plane without some form of agreement.

Meanwhile, progress has been made in the warring parties’ push for greater gender equality.

It is understood the controversial pregnancy clause that derailed pay talks some seven months ago was changed for the short-term deals that ensured Australia’s participation in the just-completed women’s World Cup.

CA has removed the antiquated reference that had demanded cricketers declare they are not pregnant.

-AAP

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