Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
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The Australian Cricketers' Association is hopeful the key parts of a new pay deal between the players and Cricket Australia could be resolved in the coming months with chief executive Todd Greenberg vowing that there will be no repeat of the ugly dispute that unfolded when the last deal was struck in 2017.
Discussions on a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) have been ongoing between Greenberg and CA chief executive Nick Hockley with the pair currently in Pakistan together on tour with the Australian men's team for the first Test in Rawalpindi.
They have been speaking regularly since coming into their respective posts in 2021 in a bid to form a stronger bond than the almost non-existent relationship between predecessors James Sutherland and Alistair Nicholson back in 2017 when an ugly 10-month pay dispute led to the players being unemployed for 34 days and an Australia A tour being cancelled before a resolution was found.
"I'd be surprised if we haven't got something resolved in the coming months," Greenberg told ESPNcricinfo. "First and foremost, we don't anticipate having any of the MoU discussions conducted in the same manner that it was way back in 2017. I think a lot of that has changed.
"Cricket Australia have recognised the revenue share model and the importance of that for cricket. The game has continued to grow during this period of time, and I think despite the difficulties of the Covid pandemic, what it has demonstrated is there is a really strong alignment of partnering between the game and the players because there's a real need for each other to be aligned on that. So the model works. Effectively if games aren't being played, revenue is not being earned.
"We've made some good progress already on the MoU discussions. Nick and I have been leading those on behalf of our respective teams. And I'm hopeful we can come to an agreement in a relatively short space of time, which will see both the players and Cricket Australia in a really strong position to come out of the pandemic."
Greenberg was pleased he had been able to forge a relationship with Hockley over the last year to create a greater dialogue between the ACA and CA on a range of issues.
"We've spent a lot of time together," Greenberg said. "And I'm pleased that we are spending time together because it's really important when we said we can talk about different issues in the game and I can certainly give him perspectives on behalf of the players both male and females.
"That relationship is really strong. I came into this role knowing the history of the last MoU and the difficulties that the game faced, and I was pretty determined to try to repair some bridges and try to mend some of those relationships. And so Nick and I both being new in our roles have an opportunity to do that."
The new MoU is one of a number of key issues for Cricket Australia to resolve in the coming months. New CA chairman Lachlan Henderson outlined a new cricket strategy with refreshing the BBL at the top of the agenda, particularly with a new TV broadcast rights deal set to be negotiated in 2024, after the new MoU is already in place.
Covid has also affected CA's bottom line with Henderson revealing the administration had spent $40 million on biosecurity over the past two seasons, money it needs to recoup.
The players are hopeful the bio-bubbles will not be required next summer after two years of playing in such environments both home and abroad.
"We're really hopeful that we can return to some level of normality next summer by the time that rolls around," Greenberg said. "But it's certainly not lost on me and it shouldn't be lost on the fans that the players have made enormous sacrifices to keep the game underway.
"The players have made it very clear to me that at any point in time, the most important thing for them is to continue to play cricket and if you go back over the last 24 months the sacrifices players have made to be away from families to be in isolated environments, some of the sacrifices from players from Western Australia who have literally not been home since the middle of last year is nothing short of phenomenal.
"They know that they've got a huge responsibility to do that, a responsibility to keep the show on the road but a responsibility to play cricket so that the revenues are still coming into the game. Because the revenues are there to generate grassroots participation and to keep the game flowing from top to bottom."