Australian Cricketers Association says players are preparing to strike as contract negotiations drag on

By Peter Lalor
The Australian
June 02, 2012

Australian cricket is on the verge of an ugly industrial dispute, with the players preparing for strike action if a contract is not struck by the end of the month.

Australian Cricketers Association head Paul Marsh confirmed last night there were contingency plans should the two sides fail to agree before July 1.

The players are said to have examined a boycott of next month's one-day tour of England or the Twenty20 world championships.

State players will also be locked out if the deadline is not met.

Relationships between players and management are heated and threatening to become as ugly as the stand-off surrounding the first player contract negotiations during Mark Taylor's captaincy.

Cricket Australia is playing hardball in negotiations and has frozen all state and Big Bash contract talks under the threat of a $50,000 fine until the new agreement is in place.

Players and state administrators have both raised the possibility of a tour boycott, as frustrations rise over a situation in which players are unsure which state they will be training with in four weeks time and how much they will be paid.

Western Australia's training begins on Tuesday, but the state association is barred from deciding who will play for it this summer. Usman Khawaja and Nathan Hauritz - who have both been linked with moves to Queensland -- have been training in NSW this week as they remain in limbo because of the Cricket Australia contract freeze.

One player described the state contract ban as a "divide and conquer" tactic and Cricket Australia general manager Pat Howard, who has been leading the negotiations, has been talking to players and managers, adding to ill feeling.

Marsh said the players were preparing for the possibility of an industrial stand-off if there was no contract in place before the current one ends.

"There's only 29 days of negotiations left to run, so of course we are preparing for the eventuality of not having a deal in place before the end of July," he said.

"We are looking at all of our different options."

The players and Cricket Australia were progressing towards an agreement on a controversial shift to performance-based pay when CA tabled a demand to change the definition of cricket revenue.

The association considers that a $30 million cash grab and there is frustration that the bid was tabled late in negotiations.

The players argue they are not asking for more money, but want to ensure they do not receive less at a time when the game is in reasonable financial health.

Before the redefinition of revenue, the main sticking point in the negotiations was a move to adjust the players' revenue share according to performance.

At the moment the players receive 26 per cent of all cricket income but that would move to a sliding scale under a new deal.

The pot from which the percentage is taken would shrink under the proposals to remove contra deals and new digital media.

A stand-off last year led to the previous deal being rolled over for 12 months, but there are hopes the new one will be a five-year deal.

There is no mechanism for contracts to roll over if a settlement is not reached by the end of the month.

Sydney Sixers chief executive Stuart Clark said the impasse was making it impossible for franchises to win sponsors.

"The first question sponsors ask you is who are your players and when you can't give a straight answer to that question, then it makes things very difficult," he said. "Sponsorship is hard in the current economic environment. Nobody is saying it's easy, and we need everything in our favour to sign a sponsor. Not having that, it is even more difficult."

Cricket NSW chief executive David Gilbert has expressed frustration with the ban on negotiations as nobody is sure who will play where this summer.

The threat of a $50,000 fine will not, however, stop Big Bash franchises looking to swoop on Kevin Pietersen, who stood down from one-day and T20 internationals on Friday and is on the market.

Aussie cricketers prepared to strike | Cricket | Fox Sports

I'm not surprised that this news hasn't been posted here yet.