The ‘yes, no, wait’ saga that is Australian cricket’s pay war continues to roll on, with the prospect of arbitration resurfacing on Wednesday.
Talks are ongoing between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA).
There was widespread hope of an imminent resolution after marathon meetings on Sunday ran until midnight.
Despite most of the key issues being ticked off, there was no announcement forthcoming on Wednesday, when the warring parties continued to redraft a Heads of Agreement.
That document will ensure peace is restored and this month’s Test tour of Bangladesh proceeds. It could be signed as early as Thursday.
CA and the ACA both remain mute on the state of play, having gone to ground throughout this week, but it’s understood the governing body is again considering a push for arbitration.
That would potentially spell perhaps the most frustrating chapter of the spat yet, a dispute about dispute resolution. It would also mean the prospect of Steve Smith’s side failing to tour Bangladesh is very much on the cards.
CA chief executive James Sutherland indicated last Thursday he would wait until “early next week” before formally asking for any unresolved matters to be sent to independent arbitration.
Sutherland wanted a retired Supreme Court judge to hear both sides of the spat and put an end to it.
The progress made in the ensuing days was so significant that arbitration was seemingly taken off the table.
Both sides are content with the numbers. The major cause of the stalemate had been all but resolved, with players to receive a ‘modernised’ slice of revenue.
However, frustration is building at CA over the absence of a signed in-principle deal. Its board, wanting certainty to appease a range of stakeholders, might soon demand arbitration is used as a circuit-breaker.
The time-consuming and costly process is naturally something they would like to avoid, especially with peace seemingly within touching distance.
Players would be contracted under CA’s mooted plan, ensuring they departed this month for Dhaka, but the off-field arguments could continue until the Ashes.
The ACA is yet to reject arbitration outright but labelled it “an adversarial process more akin to a court room” last week, making it clear it would prefer mediation.
Former captain Michael Clarke claimed on Sunday it would be “silly” for the union to reject arbitration.