SYDNEY: The players’ union called on Cricket Australia (CA) on Sunday to mediate over intractable wage negotiations instead of threatening not to pay their stars.
The governing body late last week threatened not to pay contracted players beyond June 30 unless the proposed remuneration overhaul was accepted.
CA chief executive James Sutherland demanded the players accept the offer in a blunt email, as the impasse with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) looked no closer to resolution.
The latest flare-up casts doubt on what team Australia could field after June 30, with a two-Test series scheduled in August in Bangladesh ahead of a home Ashes showdown with England later in the year.
The ACA’s chief executive Alistair Nicholson criticised CA’s ‘incoherence and aggression’ in the negotiations.
“Clearly, we are disappointed that CA are threatening the players,” Nicholson said in a statement. “It’s also a window into the nature of CA’s behaviour in these negotiations so far. There is incoherence and aggression in what we have experienced at the negotiating table from CA.”
Nicholson said this was shown by CA’s attempts last week to offer some top players multi-year deals only to threaten them the following day.
“However, despite these threats, the players affirm their offer to participate in independent mediation,” he added. “Quite simply, one side entered these negotiations in good faith with intent to provide a win/win result, and the other is trying to remove player unity and drive a wedge in Australian cricket.
“The point lost on CA is that the players will not respond to threats, whilst broadcasters and sponsors need certainty.”
Nicholson said it was time for CA to sit down in mediation for the good of the game, instead of making unnecessary threats and creating uncertainty.
He added that his organisation had been in touch with cricketers on Friday to brief them on the latest situation.
CA released their proposal in March, offering large salary increases, particularly for women, but breaking with the 20-year model of a fixed percentage of revenue from the game going to the cricketers.
Sutherland told the players’ association that they needed to meet terms with CA or players would go unpaid when the existing collective bargaining agreement expires on June 30.
Cricket Australia declined to comment further when contacted.
Emerging Test batsman Peter Handscomb, on county duty in England, said all players should be treated equally.
He raised fears long-form players could be lost to Twenty20 if the current financial model was not retained. “It’s about being a partner in the game. It’s huge for the players. We all feel we have a genuine role in growing cricket,” Handscomb told The Sunday Age newspaper. “We’re putting ourselves out there in public, playing and promoting the game all the time. The revenue-share model helps us feel that we’re really part of the successes or failures.”
Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc hinted at a players’ strike for the upcoming Ashes, the lucrative five-Test series against England which starts in November.
“Makes for an interesting men’s and women’s Ashes series,” Starc wrote on Twitter.
The current MoU will expire midway through the women’s World Cup which starts in England and Wales on June 24.
Former Australia captain Mark Taylor, a CA board member, said the ACA were not prepared to negotiate and that players had threatened to strike as far back as January.
“Cricket Australia feel that the ACA aren’t negotiating at all,” he told a sports chat show on cricket broadcaster Nine Network on Sunday. “I have had players say to me in January that we could well be on strike in July.”