Stalemate continues in cricket pay talks

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    Australia’s star cricketers have responded to James Sutherland’s threat by making it clear they want the governing body to enter independent mediation, according to the boss of the players’ union.

    Protracted pay talks between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) are becoming more fiery as the June 30 deadline fast approaches.

    If both sides are unable to sort it out by the end of this financial year, as looks increasingly likely, they have the option of agreeing to short-term contracts.

    Temporary deals could guarantee Steve Smith and fellow Test stars tour Bangladesh in August, and ensure their involvement in this summer’s Ashes.

    However, CA chief executive Sutherland declared in a blunt email to players last Friday his organisation is “not contemplating” such arrangements.

    Spearhead Mitchell Starc, one of the sport’s biggest drawcards in the world, fired back on Twitter that it would make for “an interesting men’s and women’s Ashes”. Starc was the most vocal of many players unimpressed by Sutherand’s blunt attempt to end the dispute.

    Players haven’t seriously entertained the prospect of an Ashes boycott but the brinkmanship is not a good look ahead of the showpiece series.

    Sutherland had played a virtually non-existent role in the dispute, which is centred on CA’s desire to scrap the revenue-sharing model, prior to the email but felt the need to speak out because of the lack of progress.

    ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson, whose organisation formally asked for independent mediation last week in an effort to kickstart stalled discussions, says he was contacted by several players following Sutherland’s note.

    “The response from the players was quite swift to me, being clear what they thought about it,” Nicholson told radio station RSN927 on Monday.

    “Basically,they’re continuing to support our position and our calls for mediation are now even more important, based on that letter.

    “It was obviously a really big threat to the player group and hence we’ve called for mediation.

    “We’ll wait for an official response to our calls for mediation. We’ll keep our playing group updated as much as we can in the coming weeks.”

    CA is not expected to provide such a response.

    The governing body believes it flagged the need for a mediation clause last November but the ACA did not agree. It insists the union has not been willing to negotiate on a range of issues, including what to do if the deadline passes.

    “I totally disagree with that,” Nicholson said.

    “It is in our interest to get this done. The players want it done. They don’t want to be in a dispute. They want to play the Ashes and we now need to get around to mediation and get this done.

    “We’ve come up with a solution that’s a win-win and that was rejected by Cricket Australia within two hours.”

    © AAP 2017