Cricket Australia eyes independent umpire in pay row

James Sutherland (Getty)
James Sutherland (Getty)

Melbourne - Cricket Australia said on Thursday it will take its long-running pay dispute with players to independent arbitration if agreement cannot be reached by early next week, with a tour to Bangladesh looming.

Chief executive James Sutherland said unless a period of intensive negotiations over the next few days produces a compromise his organisation will seek the intervention of an industrial umpire to resolve the impasse. 

"We are at the stage now where we need to address this situation and cricket needs to get on with the game," he told reporters in Melbourne. 

"We need players employed, contracted, focused not only on upcoming tours, but indeed an exciting season of cricket ahead. 

"We feel what the ACA (Australian Cricketers' Association) has proposed actually jeopardises not only (next month's) Bangladesh tour, but in turn the India one-day tour in September and even beyond that, dare I say it, the Ashes." 

After months of negotiations, the players and CA have failed to reach agreement on a new pay deal, leaving 230 cricketers unemployed since the end of June when their contracts expired.

In an escalation of the protracted pay dispute, the players, through their union the ACA, decided to boycott this month's Australia A tour of South Africa and are reportedly ready to do the same for Bangladesh. 

Sutherland said CA was proposing an alternative route through the negotiation stalemate and has had discussions with ACA over their planned next course of action. 

"We are proposing that both parties get together in the short-term with a really strong intent to get this deal sorted and hopefully by early next week we can have this situation resolved," he said.

"In the event that it is not resolved at that time we are proposing that any residual matters that haven't been resolved are sent to arbitration. 

"We believe now is the time for the game to get on to do preparation for tours and the season ahead to happen and to that end we are prepared to go to arbitration and accept whatever decision comes." 

The escalation of the divisive pay wrangle, which has cast uncertainty over the showpiece Ashes series later this year, comes after the ACA rejected the latest pay offer from the game's administration. 

The ACA remains adamant that players must receive a percentage of the game's gross revenues, while CA is insistent that the continuation of this model would come at an unreasonable cost to other, more pressing issues in the game.

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