Australian players look set to boycott next month’s tour of Bangladesh if a deal is not reached in their pay dispute with Cricket Australia (CA).
In a meeting held in Sydney, captain Steve Smith, David Warner and other unemployed teammates discussed the future course of action with Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) bigwigs Alistair Nicholson, Shane Watson and Simon Katich, after talks fell apart last week.
The two-hour meeting ended with players voicing their support for the “peace plan” terms sheet submitted by the ACA last week, while reaffirming their stance regarding next month’s tour of Bangladesh.
The previous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) expired at the end of the financial year, at which point some 230 cricketers became unemployed.
This month’s Australia A tour was cancelled because of the impasse. The next deadline in the saga is August 18, when Smith’s side are due to depart for a two-Test tour of Bangladesh.
That trip won’t go ahead unless there is some form of agreement between CA and the ACA.
“Not sure the players can do much more to solve the dispute. We’re really proud to offer up to an extra $30 million for grassroots,” Warner posted on Twitter, referencing the terms sheet that the union sent to CA last week.
Not sure the players can do much more to solve the dispute. We're really proud to offer up to an extra $30million for grassroots #fairshare
— David Warner (@davidwarner31) July 24, 2017
Paceman Pat Cummins tweeted that “players are as frustrated as anyone else. We want to play. Offering even more to grassroots to get a deal!!!”.
It is arguably the most alarming sign yet that the baggy green may become embroiled in the saga.
However, there has been slow progress in recent weeks. The ACA and CA both remain upbeat the Test series will proceed as planned.
Negotiations continued on Monday. Warring chief executives James Sutherland and Nicholson spoke on the phone, having shared a productive meeting in person the previous day.
It’s business as usual as far as chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns is concerned.
Hohns’ selection panel is expected to add another bowler to the 13-man Test squad soon, possibly as early as this week. Hohns will discuss the options, headlined by paceman Jackson Bird and legspinner Mitch Swepson, with Smith and coach Darren Lehmann, who recently returned home from a holiday in England.
Smith and other members of the touring party are set to assemble in Darwin for a training camp that starts on August 10.
Coaches, officials, selectors, sponsors, government, fans and other stakeholders are becoming increasingly incensed by the standoff. Sports Minister Greg Hunt recently reached out to both sides of the dispute.
An emergency ACA meeting at the start of this month passed 14 resolutions, with one detailing that “absent an MoU there are no professional cricketers presently obliged or available to tour”.