Cricket Australia has proposed taking their pay dispute with the nation’s elite players to arbitration if there is no resolution by early next week, chief executive James Sutherland said on Thursday.
Australia’s top players have effectively been unemployed since the previous five-year pay deal expired on June 30, forcing the cancellation of the ‘A’ tour of South Africa as the acrimonious negotiations continued.
Sutherland said the impasse threatened next month’s tour of Bangladesh, the one-day series in India that follows and even the home Ashes series at the end of the year and it was “time to get the show back on the road”.
“We see the increasing need for urgency to get this matter resolved,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“We’re proposing in the short-term that both parties get together with really strong intent to get this deal sorted by early next week. In the event that it’s not resolved, we’re proposing any residual matters be sent to arbitration.
“We’re prepared to accept whatever decision comes. In cricketing parlance, we will accept the umpire’s decision and move on.”
At the heart of the dispute is CA’s insistence that the two-decade-old model under which players get a fixed percentage of revenue should be jettisoned.
CA believe the revenue-share model was unfit for modern times and is starving grass-roots cricket of funding, while players say it has underpinned the game’s growth and prosperity over the past 20 years.
The dispute had been simmering for more than nine months and has grown increasingly heated with both sides embarking on a public airing of their respective positions and grievances.
Sutherland said that if the dispute went to arbitration, players could immediately be contracted on a short-term basis to allow them to tour Bangladesh.
The test squad for that tour, which has not yet been announced, is scheduled to gather in Darwin for a training camp in the second week of August.
Sutherland maintained the uncompromising tone of the dispute by suggesting the “peace plan” offered up by the Australian Cricketers’ Association last week would be “bad for the game”.
He also said he had witnessed ACA strategies “perhaps designed to delay” talks but stumbled when asked to explain why, if the matter was so urgent, he personally was absent from negotiations until after the previous deal had expired.
The ACA were not immediately available for comment.
(With inputs from agencies)