Cricket Australia hits out as players confirm South Africa series boycott

Cricket Australia (CA) has hit out after the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) today (Thursday) confirmed that its members would boycott a forthcoming tour of South Africa as the dispute over a new pay deal continues to rumble on.

The ACA on Sunday said its members would not participate in the tour of the national team’s development squad to South Africa unless a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was struck with CA.

Australian cricket entered lockout mode on Saturday as the deadline of midnight Friday expired for an agreement on a new pay deal. The situation has left as many as 230 players effectively unemployed, with the ACA staging an emergency meeting on Sunday to decide on a future course of action, including a boycott of the Australia A tour of South Africa which starts with a four-day match on July 12.

The meeting saw the ACA pass 14 resolutions, including that all players will refuse to play without a new MoU in place, and the boycott is said to represent the first time that Australian players have elected to take such action. The ESPNCricinfo website said the decision was reached by the Australia A squad – led by Usman Khawaja (pictured) and Travis Head and also featuring Glenn Maxwell – in Brisbane earlier today after CA asked for a determination to be brought forward by a day for logistical reasons.

ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson said: “By making this call, the Australia A players have sacrificed their own ambitions for the collective; an incredibly selfless act that shows their strength and overall commitment to the group. All players are deeply disappointed at the behaviour of CA which forces this course of action, given the players would rather be playing for their country.

“CA refuse to attend mediation or offer any genuine flexibility in the MoU negotiations. And without mediation it's hard to see how there can be the progress necessary to reach agreement. The players want to make sure all men and women who play the game are treated fairly, and that grassroots funding is not drained by a top-heavy bureaucracy. The ACA again calls on common sense to prevail and for the CA CEO (James Sutherland) to attend mediation.”

The long-running dispute has seen CA criticise the players for not negotiating, while the ACA has said the governing body has rejected requests to enter mediation. The dispute centres on opposing views on a fixed revenue percentage model for a new five-year MoU. CA is seeking to break this up, while the union is looking to retain it.

In a statement, Cricket Australia said: “The Australia A tour was projected to cost CA in the vicinity of A$250,000 (€169,000/$190,000) to stage. All funds that can be recouped as a result of not touring will be allocated by CA to the National Communities Facilities Fund.”

It added: “Cricket Australia regrets that players have made this decision despite progress made in talks between CA and the ACA in meetings over the past week. These talks included regular communication between CEOs.

“While a new MoU has not yet been agreed, CA is of the view that these talks should have enabled the tour to proceed as planned. CA will continue to work towards a new MoU which is in the interests of both the players and the game and calls upon the ACA to show the flexibility clearly now needed to achieve that outcome.”

The next series that comes under threat is Australia’s two-Test tour to Bangladesh in August, while the Australian cricket summer is highlighted by the Ashes series against England later this year.