The clock is still ticking in Australian cricket’s pay stoush, with the sport risking further damage if peace is not brokered this week.
Monday brought no progress in protracted pay talks. The next round of meetings between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) is now expected to take place on Wednesday.
Australia face India in their women’s World Cup semi-final on Thursday, with the tournament decider to come at Lord’s on Sunday.
There is every chance Australia will lift the trophy. The defending champions dropped only one game in the pool stage and remain title favourites.
There is also every chance a ticker-tape parade upon returning home would be a celebration for unemployed players. It would arguably be the most unedifying chapter of the saga yet.
Louise Evans, who sits on the board of advocacy group Women Sport Australia, described it as a “laughable” scenario.
“Cricket Australia has done a fantastic job in being a frontrunner in paying elite female cricketers a living wage,” Evans said.
“But if the team comes home, they’re unemployed… then they’re going to undo all that fantastic work.
“If it comes to that, what a ridiculous thing for Cricket Australia to allow to happen.”
Evans added it would result in “seismic damage” to the sport.
It’s understood Commonwealth Bank, having rejigged its agreement with CA last year to focus on women’s sport and diversity programs, is far from impressed with proceedings.
Commonwealth Bank offered no comment regarding pay talks on Monday, noting only that it is “immensely proud to be the principal sponsor of the Australian women’s cricket team”.
Sponsors are among many stakeholders desperately hoping for a resolution to the stoush.
The previous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CA and the ACA expired on June 30, leaving over 200 cricketers unemployed. Last week’s round of marathon talks spilled into the weekend.
The women’s World Cup squad, playing thanks to short-term deals that CA and the ACA agreed to, have performed admirably in England despite the spectre of uncertainty.
“Hopefully the MoU negotiations will get sorted back home and we can come back home with a trophy and hopefully a pay slip in August,” keeper Alyssa Healy said earlier this month.
“The ACA and Cricket Australia have both left us alone as well and just made sure we’re focusing on the World Cup.”
The women’s Ashes starts in Brisbane on October 22 but that series, like the men’s tour to Bangladesh next month and the men’s Ashes, will be affected if there is no progress in the impasse.