Australia A’s tour of South Africa continues to be under threat after an emergency meeting of squad members was held on Sunday.
The meeting of squad members and national captain Steve Smith was conducted via telephone to discuss the best course of action, should a new memorandum of understanding not be signed by Friday. The squad has resolved that it will not tour if a new deal is not in place by then.
ACA CEO Alistair Nicholson confirmed the squad’s intentions after the conclusion of the meeting.
‘The decision not to tour in the absence of a renewed MOU has been discussed and endorsed by the Australia A squad in solidarity,’ Nicholson told Cricket Australia’s website.
Negotiations will continue this week while the touring squad holds a training camp in Brisbane ahead of it’s scheduled departure on Saturday.
‘The Australia A squad wishes to represent Australia and is prepared to give CA another opportunity. They will gather in Brisbane tomorrow to prepare for the tour in a gesture of the players’ continued good faith and in hope that CA will reciprocate by agreeing an MOU on fair terms as soon as possible,’ he added.
Nicholson went on to highlight the united front that all of Australia’s professional cricketers will present on the matter.
‘The players have resolved that unless contractually obliged, no male or female players intend to play cricket for Cricket Australia and Cricket Australia teams while fellow players remain unemployed due to the absence of an MOU,’ Nicholson said.
Cricket Australia acknowledged the decision taken by the Australia A squad in a statement on Sunday.
‘Cricket Australia notes the Australian Cricketers’ Association advice that players are unavailable to tour South Africa in the absence of a new memorandum of understanding (MOU),’ the statement read.
‘Furthermore, CA reiterated its commitment to resolving the matter, while also saying that it would respect any decision taken by the players.
‘Australia A is a development tour which gives players an opportunity to perform at a high level. It is therefore surprising that players would elect not to tour, however CA has never, and would never attempt to force anyone to play for an Australian team who is unwilling to do so.
‘CA remains ready to negotiate a new MOU and has again called on the ACA to show genuine flexibility and commence negotiations in the best interests of the players and the game,’ the statement continued.
Australia are scheduled to meet South Africa A in the first of two four-day matches on 12 July.
Nicholson also hinted at the possibility of players being sub-contracted, in an effort to rescue the international summer, most notably the Ashes against England in November.
‘There is still the ability for the uncontracted players to assign their cricket-playing rights, say to the ACA, and then that can be used because obviously the venues (for the coming summer) are all booked and the schedule is there,’ Nicholson said.
Nicholson added that while this was an avenue worth exploring, an agreement with Cricket Australia remains first prize.
‘That’s something that further work would need to be done on if we don’t get to a resolution soon, but that’s something we need to start, now that the 30th of June has come along. The reality is our preference is to agree to an MOU with CA,’ he added.
The first Ashes Test is slated for 23 November in Brisbane.