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Cricket Australia firm as contract deadline nears

Brydon Coverdale

June 12, 2012

Comments: 7 | Text size: A | A

James Sutherland speaks at the Cricket Australia awards, March 15, 2011
James Sutherland says he has been frustrated that a new MoU has not yet been agreed upon © Getty Images
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Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, has ruled out an extension of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the players as the June 30 deadline draws closer with no sign of resolution. Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) will meet again later this week in an effort to resolve their ongoing pay dispute, and neither side has shown any willingness to budge on their demands.

The existing MoU expires at the end of the month and if a new deal is not agreed by that time, Australia's players will be out of contract and could consider strike action. The limited-overs squad departs on Thursday for a one-day tour of England and Ireland, and they will have four matches still to play when the contract talks are due to expire.

The ACA chief executive, Paul Marsh, has declared strike action a last resort, and said the union's preferred option would be to continue with the existing MoU if a new agreement is not reached. That was the outcome last year, when a one-year extension was agreed as a compromise when the parties couldn't find common ground on a new deal, but Sutherland said Cricket Australia was not willing to do the same this time around.

"From our perspective, we're not entertaining any thoughts of rolling over the contract," Sutherland said on Tuesday. "We have a strong view that there needs to be a new agreement going forward and we're negotiating on that basis."

The ACA remains frustrated at Cricket Australia's push to change the pool of revenue from which the players take a 26% cut, but the board is adamant the players will be better off financially. Although neither side has shown any sign of giving ground - in public, at least - somebody will need to compromise to avoid a messy situation on July 1, and Sutherland said he remained hopeful that a deal would be reached.

"We're probably coming into the eleventh hour," he said. "We've got a sharp focus on trying to make sure we can get something done. We'll give it a good crack. We're confident in our position and the attractiveness of the offer we've put on the table. Hopefully the ACA will see it themselves and see their way through to be able to come to an arrangement with us this week, or in the next couple.

"We've got a clear position that our board has mandated on. I guess that puts us in a position of needing to be strong and work through that. I think the ACA is understanding of that position - not necessarily agreeing with it - but we'll talk to them about it and see how we go."

The prolonged nature of the discussions has been especially frustrating for the states, who cannot complete contract negotiations until a new agreement is confirmed. That means players who intend to switch states have been forced to remain with their existing teams for the time being, while there is also no certainty over how many of their players will fall under the Cricket Australia contract list.

"I'm always frustrated when things don't come together as quickly as you'd like," Sutherland said. "It's a really important agreement for cricket; it's a really important agreement for our players. People take time over these things and they're complicated. Sometimes with complex deals they don't come together as quickly as you'd like and they get resolved right at the end. Hopefully that's what we'll see in the next couple of weeks."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by RandyOZ on (June 13, 2012, 9:57 GMT)

What a shame that this guy is still running the show. His credentials are non-existent and he does not care about Australian cricket.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (June 13, 2012, 6:10 GMT)

I hope the Aussie players strike. Make the Eng vs SA a four-test series.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (June 13, 2012, 3:57 GMT)

Back to back Ashes series ain't right. How about CA do something about that ? Let this madness end. How about an Ashes series once every 3 years or 4 ? gives something for THE test cricket fan to be excited about.

Posted by PYC1959 on (June 12, 2012, 15:37 GMT)

What a shame money has to get in the way again....

Posted by ashlatchem on (June 12, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

I'm hoping the players get there way....And then they strike over meaningless ODI's... The next of which just so happen to shorten the most exciting test series for the year....

Posted by JesseV on (June 12, 2012, 9:44 GMT)

So does this mean second string teams will be playing for Australia if they dont sort this out?????

Posted by Heisenburg on (June 12, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

I hope the Aus team strike, it's a useless series anyway and an Australia A team could still beat England.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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