Fears are mounting of a disastrous Ashes boycott after players took the extraordinary step of cancelling a tour as Australian cricket’s bitter pay dispute intensified on Thursday.
Pressure is growing on Cricket Australia and the players union, the Australian Cricketers’ Association, to come to terms on a new pay agreement to avoid more series being cancelled.
Players will boycott the Australia A cricket tour of South Africa over a lack of progress in pay talks with the national governing body. Vision courtesy Seven News.
But relations between the two parties are at a low with players privately fuming at what they perceive to be the governing body’s “arrogance” and autocratic rule while CA are bemused by the hardline stance taken by the ACA.
The Australia A tour of South Africa has been cancelled and the two-Test tour of Bangladesh is in doubt, but the potential cancellation of the lucrative one-day internationals against India and this summer’s Ashes have the greatest ramifications for the game.
CA risks a backlash from the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India if the ODIs slated for October are cancelled, while players and administrators are in danger of alienating fans if the Ashes, world cricket’s most enduring rivalry, was called off.
The last memorandum of understanding expired last Friday, leaving more than 200 male and female players unemployed.
While CA are confident the Ashes will go ahead and the ACA has flagged provisions to save the series, former captain Allan Border said it was reasonable for fans to believe the battle for the urn was in jeopardy if both parties remained at loggerheads.
“If both sides stick their head in the sand and are not prepared to talk to each other, what else is there to think?” Border said on Fox Sports News.
“As an outsider you’ve got to say ‘does that mean touring India is going to be a problem?’.
“If that happens, the Indians are going to have some say about what’s going on — it’s costing us money.
“And then the Ashes. I can’t imagine that not going ahead because of a player boycott.
“They’ve just got to get in a room and do it now.”
Players are fighting for the retention of the revenue-share model introduced in 1997 while CA believe that is no longer viable. CA, however, revised their offer two weeks ago, agreeing in a profit-share system that also included domestic players.
The ACA wants to see genuine progress in talks before committing to the Bangladesh tour. A spokesman for the Bangladesh Cricket Board has told Fairfax Media they expect that tour to go ahead.