Australian cricket's pay war has taken another turn for the worse after a compromise deal brokered between the two negotiating teams over the past week fell apart.
Talks involving the CA chief executive, James Sutherland, and his Australian Cricketers' Association counterpart, Alistair Nicholson, had made slow progress towards middle ground between two wildly divergent positions - namely CA's intent to end revenue-sharing and the ACA's desire to keep it.
But ESPNcricinfo understands their tentative proposal has broken down, sending discussions all but back to square one. A CA spokesman strenuously denied that the deal had been rejected by the board's nine directors, who have been kept abreast of events via regular teleconferences. Sutherland and Nicholson have continued talking.
Time is fast running out to avoid major dislocation to the game in Australia. This includes mounting anxiety among both existing and prospective sponsors of CA, including the financial services firm Magellan, which has been in line to sign a deal as backer of the Test team ahead of this summer's Ashes series but has held off signing on the dotted line due to MoU-related uncertainty.
At the same time, CA's broadcast partners, Channel Nine and the Ten Network, are growing increasingly worried about securing their own advertising deals for the international season and the Twenty20 Big Bash League, respectively. It is believed that Australian cricket's intricate web of commercial partnerships and related advertising and promotional campaigns will start to come apart should no agreement be reached by August 15.
That date is significant, too, due to Australia's looming Test tour of Bangladesh. Selected players are due to convene in Darwin for a pre-tour camp on August 10 before the squad's scheduled departure later in the month.
There are mixed messages emerging about the likelihood of the Bangladesh tour going ahead. A customary pre-tour security visit involving representatives from both CA and the ACA will be going ahead as scheduled on July 24. However, it is believed the BCB has been informed it should be prepared for the possibility of the tour's cancellation, much like Cricket South Africa were warned about the Australia A tour that floundered either side of the expiry of the previous MoU.
The ACA declined to comment publicly on the state of negotiations on Friday but is believed to be informing players of the fact that discussions may now take considerably longer than previously hoped due to the breakdown. More than 230 players were left out of contract and therefore unemployed when the previous MoU lapsed on July 1.
They have now been joined in limbo by Australia's women's team, who were knocked out of the World Cup semi-finals by India, in England on Thursday, after signing short-term contracts in order to play out the tournament.