Players-only meetings are a rare thing in cricket's era of multiple coaches and countless support staff, but Australia's Test squad for Bangladesh assembled in Sydney on Monday for exactly that, in a reminder of how close the pay war is running to the deadline for the tour to go ahead.
Captain Steven Smith, his deputy David Warner and all other playing members of the touring party either met in person or dialled in for an update on pay talks from the Australian Cricketers Association chief executive Alistair Nicholson, player liaison officer Simon Katich and ACA executive member Shane Watson.
Over about two hours they were briefed on events of the past week, from discussions between Nicholson and his Cricket Australia counterpart James Sutherland and the "peace plan" submitted by the ACA, to CA's apparent pushback and the subsequent meeting between the two CEOs on Sunday. It is believed the pair had several more discussions by phone on Monday.
"The players are committed to the Peace Plan on the table," an ACA spokesman said. "They are really supportive of the investment in grassroots cricket. They will continue to stand united alongside all of their state and female colleagues."
Among the discussions in the meeting was a reiteration of the resolutions passed at the ACA executive meeting on July 2, the day after the previous MoU expired and left more than 230 players unemployed, that related to forthcoming tours and the home summer of international matches.
"Players expressed a strong desire to Tour both Bangladesh and India and urged CA to support them by renewing an MoU on fair terms, allowing the Tours to proceed," one such resolution stated. "However, due to the fact of unemployment and the resolution above, absent an MoU there are no professional cricketers presently obliged or available to Tour.
"All players expressed a strong desire to participate in the Australian Summer of Cricket and urged CA to support them by renewing an MoU on fair terms so the Summer can proceed."
Following the ructions caused by the emergence of the ACA's compromise offer to CA, all parties have resumed their efforts to reach an agreement in time to avoid the loss of the Bangladesh tour and those that follow it, and to sidestep a looming commercial fiasco enveloping current and prospective sponsors plus broadcasters if the standoff continues.
In order to avoid such a scenario, a basic agreement must be reached in the next three weeks, as mid-August would be both the latest time at which the Bangladesh tour could be cancelled and also about the same time that commercial partners - both of CA and its host broadcasters Channel Nine and the Ten Network - would be unable to commit to advertising, marketing and promotional campaigns for summer.
Australia's players are due to convene in Darwin for a pre-tour camp on August 10, with departure for Bangladesh set for August 18. The pre-tour security visit by representatives of both CA and the ACA is going ahead as scheduled this week. The BCB's chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury said there had been no official discussions about a possible cancellation.
"We haven't had any discussions with Cricket Australia about any cancellations," he said in Dhaka on Saturday. "They informed us today that an inspection team will be in Dhaka on July 25. They will take a look at the facilities, and give their feedback. We are working towards hosting the Australia cricket team. I am sure Cricket Australia is also headed the same way. What they are dealing with now, is their internal matter. It won't be wise to comment on it."