MOU talks to carry on across weekend

Negotiations gather pace with weekend talks scheduled in bid to thrash out overdue deal

Hopes of an imminent resolution to Australian cricket's industrial relations stalemate continue to grow with a further round of meetings completed today and the prospect of talks continuing across the weekend.

While the timing of any agreement on a new Memorandum of Understanding between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association remains unknown, it is understood negotiations that took months to formally begin are now progressing in earnest.

In addition to regular meetings between the two parties' negotiating teams, direct communication has been maintained between the organisations' respective chief executives, James Sutherland (CA) and Alistair Nicholson (ACA).

Earlier Friday, News Corp Australia reported that the ACA had also withdrawn their call for an independent mediator to be appointed to the process, further indicating that a truce had been brokered in the months-long impasse.

The prospect that a new five-year MOU, which was due to come into effect two weeks ago, being agreed upon has lifted expectations that Australia's proposed two-Test tour to Bangladesh scheduled to begin next month will proceed as planned.

Read More: Selection headache as Bangladesh approaches

At an emergency meeting held by the ACA executive and attended by a number of senior players earlier this month, it was announced that none of the 300 or so professional cricketers in Australia would take part in matches organised by CA until a new MOU had been signed.

As a result of that resolution, the players withdrew from the scheduled month-long Australia A tour to South Africa that was to act as a selection trial for the vacant pace bowler's berth on the Bangladesh tour as well as a performance guide to future series in India, Australia (including the five-Test Ashes summer) and South Africa.

Around 230 of those players fell out of contract and therefore became unemployed when the previous MOU expired on June 30, with members of the Australia women's team currently competing in the ICC World Cup in England signing interim contracts for the duration of the tournament.

Read More: Follow the Australia Women's World Cup campaign

Negotiations between CA and the players' union broke down last year and attempts to re-start them stalled as the two parties remained staunchly opposed on the model by which players would be remunerated under the new deal.

In an offer that was initially tabled (and rejected by the ACA) in March before being revised (and again rejected) last month, CA proposed that all players share in a capped pool of surplus income as well as pay increases for all men's and women's international and domestic cricketers over the next five years.

Read More: CA Chairman hits out at players' union tactics

The ACA has firmly resisted any move away from the existing revenue sharing model, and proposed its own alternative under which players share a reduced portion (22.5 per cent, down from around 25 per cent) of a total payment pool that is increased through a broadened definition of 'revenue'.

In an article published this week, CA Chairman David Peever said the proposal to modify the model to pay players a share of surplus revenue rather than a set portion of gross income was based solely on what is best for cricket at all levels.

"CA has put what in any normal circumstances would be regarded as a very generous offer on the table," Peever wrote.

Read More: CA Chairman David Peever's article

"It includes healthy pay increases for all male players, a more than 150 per cent increase in pay for all female players and gender equity in both pay and conditions, a share of any surplus for all players and major increases in other support and benefits.

"I would never begrudge these players a fair share of the funds they help generate for the game.

"I’m pleased that all players have never been more highly rewarded than they are today.

"But CA and the State and Territory Associations are responsible for the health of the entire game, not just the elite level where more than 70 per cent of the game’s total revenue is currently directed.

"We also have a responsibility to ensure that a fair share of the game’s resources is directed to other levels, including junior and grassroots cricket where it is most sorely needed."