Australian cricket fans have every right to feel filthy about the ongoing pay scrap, but Shane Watson says the public know unemployed players are being fair and reasonable.
The previous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Cricket Australia (CA) and the players’ union expired on June 30.
CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) remain deadlocked over the issue of revenue sharing. The standoff has plunged the game into absolute uncertainty.
This month’s Australia A tour to South Africa will almost certainly be boycotted, barring significant progress in protracted pay talks before Friday.
A question mark also hangs over next month’s Test series in Bangladesh, the ensuing ODI tour of India and this summer’s Ashes.
Some 230 Australian cricketers are currently unemployed. The list includes domestic and international players; male and female.
CA and the ACA have argued the other party is is at fault for a range of issues, such as problems at grass-roots level. CA has used a proverbial carrot and stick in attempts to convince players of the need for change, but with zero success.
Several stakeholders are dismayed by the stoush. Fans are incredulous it has come to this.
Former all-rounder Watson, who sits on the ACA executive, says the public understand who is being “incredibly reasonable” in the saga.
“For fans and for cricket in general in Australia, I think it’s just a very sad moment,” Watson said.
“From my perspective and what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, absolutely, the majority of people understand that we’re not being unfair.
“We’re not actually trying to be out there grabbing money left, right and centre that’s actually going to draw away from the game.
“Players have asked for … what’s been agreed upon for the last 19 years. We’ve never asked for any more.”
Watson reiterated calls for CA chief executive James Sutherland to enter emergency mediation. Sutherland is yet to formally enter talks and there is no indication from the governing body that will change.
“Normally if there’s an impasse in anything, in any relationship if something is not happening, you get someone in to help find the middle ground,” Watson said.
“But that’s been knocked back as well. For me I just find that incredibly sad.”
Usman Khawaja, who hasn’t played at any level since an ODI in January, added that players are desperate to get on the park.
“It’s tough … these are not the sort of things you want to deal with,” Khawaja said.
Australia A captain Khawaja will train alongside his squad in Brisbane on Monday but the prospect of the group flying out on Friday appears almost non-existent.