Threat of Australia players' strike eases after talks
The threat of a strike by Australia's players has eased significantly after productive talks between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association over the past two days. Cricket Australia's chairman Wally Edwards said the issues had been discussed at a board meeting in Melbourne on Friday and he was confident that the necessary breakthroughs had been made to ensure a resolution of the pay dispute before the June 30 deadline.
Australia's players flew out for England on Thursday, preparing for a one-day tour in the knowledge that they could reach the end of the month without a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on pay and contract issues. The possibility of strike action had been raised, but Edwards said the most recent negotiations between Cricket Australia and the ACA had brought an agreement much closer.
"The two negotiating teams have made good progress in the last two or three days," Edwards said. "We're all very confident that a successful MoU will be agreed before the end of the month. The board today has considered a lot of the issues and there's just details now to be resolved. The big issues are pretty well understood now and agreed [upon]. We're just down into detail. From a Cricket Australia perspective we're confident there will be a successful outcome before the end of June."
The talks have dragged on longer than both sides hoped, with only two weeks before the existing MoU expires, and the situation has left a number of state players in limbo as the state associations have been banned from recruiting and contracting players until a resolution is reached. Despite the recent disagreements between the two parties, Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland said he was confident the relationship with the ACA would not be damaged in the long term.
"I don't believe in the last few years we've had any problem with the ACA," Sutherland said. "I think we work through issues from day to day and this is obviously a major one. It's challenging and it's complex and it's important, and I don't think either party expected to be able to walk through this easily.
"Inevitably, I think the willingness on both sides was there to make sure something was done by the end. We just were not able to work through the impasse and fortunately we've found a way through that in the last couple of days. We're now in a very confident position of having an agreement."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here