Australia pay dispute casts cloud over Ashes series

SYDNEY • Australia's cricketers yesterday boycotted this month's Australia A tour to South Africa, escalating a bitter pay dispute which threatens to derail senior tours to Bangladesh and India as well as this year's home Ashes series.

The Australia Cricketers' Association (ACA) said the players were unavailable to tour South Africa for the Australia A team without an agreed pay deal or new memorandum of understanding.

Their contracts with Cricket Australia (CA) expired last Friday following months of increasingly acrimonious wrangling.

"It is with great frustration that with no progress towards resolving the current dispute, Australia A players confirm they will not tour South Africa," the ACA said in a statement.

"This decision is made in support of more than 200 male and female players who are now unemployed."

CA, cricket's governing body in the country, said it was disappointed with the players' decision.

"CA regrets that players have made this decision despite progress made in talks between CA and the ACA in meetings over the past week, including regular communication between CEOs," it said in a statement.

"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 said it has advised Cricket South Africa of the players' decision and will donate the cost of the tour, which is estimated at A$250,000 (S$262,650), to a scheme to provide better and more inclusive cricket facilities around the country.

The players had been training this week with captain Usman Khawaja and hoping for an end to the impasse.

"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," the ACA said.

There are fears now that the pay row could scupper next month's Test tour to Bangladesh, the one-day international series in India in September and even the Ashes. The first of five Tests against England is set to take place in late November in Brisbane.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'Australia pay dispute casts cloud over Ashes series'. Print Edition | Subscribe