In the latest escalation of Australia's player pay dispute, the Australian Cricketers Association has requested independent mediation with Cricket Australia to try to avoid the negotiations passing beyond the June 30 deadline.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that the ACA lodged a formal request with CA for independent mediation on Friday, in the form of a letter from the association president Greg Dyer to the board chairman David Peever, following the the most recent meeting between the two negotiating teams in Melbourne on Thursday. It is the first time since the signing of the first MOU in 1998 that either party has felt the need to call for outside assistance.
As part of the request, the ACA has offered to allow the squad selected for this year's women's World Cup in England, a tournament which straddles the MOU deadline, to sign a tournament-specific contract. There is unease both nationally and at state level about the contractual limbo created by the dispute, though on Thursday the fast bowler Mitchell Starc was adamant about players not wanting to enter contract talks with CA until a new MOU is signed.
The request was made with little more than six weeks remaining before the expiry of the current MOU, with neither side of the debate showing any desire to back down from their publicly stated positions. It is believed that the prospect of a dispute resolution process was first broached by CA's negotiating team early in talks, before the board presented its formal pay offer that was recently rebuffed by the players.
While the ACA is as committed to maintaining the present fixed revenue percentage model that has been in place for two decades as CA is determined to dismantle it, a major sticking point in negotiations has been the board's reluctance to provide the players association with all the financial information it has requested and believes it is entitled to.
At the same time, CA has pointed out that the ACA has declined to assent to its offer of documentation outlining a range of financial scenarios around its existing pay offer, which limits any "blue sky" money over and above fixed amounts to the nation's top centrally-contracted male and female players. Domestic male players, by contrast, would have their wages effectively frozen over the next five years despite a looming Big Bash League television rights deal expected to as much as triple the value of the competition.
In a parallel negotiation, the AFL and the AFL players association are soon to announce a new collective agreement that is set to bring a fixed revenue percentage model to Australian football for the first time.
A CA spokesman declined to comment on the mediation request.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig