Sydney: Australia's cricketers union urged a swift resolution to a damaging pay dispute today to avoid any strike disruption to this year's Ashes series.
Cricket Australia last week threatened not to pay contracted players beyond the June 30 expiry of their current financial deal if they didn't accept a new offer. The robust statement prompted warnings of a strike, with pace spearhead Mitchell Starc tweeting: "Makes for an interesting men's and women's ashes..." Former Test all-rounder Shane Watson added his support by tweeting: "Well said @mstarc56. It will be an interesting game of cricket without any players."
Alistair Nicholson, chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, said players wanted the dispute resolved rather than risk damaging the showpiece Ashes series against England, starting in November.
"It is in our interest to get this done. The players want it done," he told Melbourne radio Monday.
"They don't want to be in a dispute. They want to play the Ashes and we now need to get around to mediation and get this done. We've come up with a solution that's a win-win and that was rejected by Cricket Australia within two hours." The dispute centres on Cricket Australia's desire to scrap the fixed percentage players have earned since the first memorandum of understanding was agreed 20 years ago.
Following Cricket Australia's ultimatum, Nicholson said he had been contacted by several players.
"The response from the players was quite swift to me, being clear what they thought about it," he said.
"Basically, they're continuing to support our position and our calls for mediation are now even more important, based on that letter.
"It was obviously a really big threat to the player group and hence we've called for mediation."
CA chief executive James Sutherland has accused the ACA of having "unfairly placed current players in a difficult position".
"As it stands, (the revenue share model) has achieved its purpose -- to make Australia's male cricketers among the best paid sportspeople in the country -- but it needs to be adjusted, not least to ensure our women receive proper remuneration," said Sutherland.
"Under our proposal, we can achieve this while still lifting payments for our male cricketers."