FORMER Test quick Mitchell Johnson says the long-term damage has already been done in cricket’s bitter pay dispute as the warring parties made “steady” movement towards averting a summer crisis.
Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland was front and centre in meetings with the Australian Cricketers Association on Wednesday and will be present again on Thursday when the warring parties resume their pursuit of a resolution.
The once frosty relationship continues to thaw, albeit slowly, and the negotiating teams continue to plough through the 700-page Memorandum of Understanding with a view to a new one being signed sooner rather than later.
But no deadlines have been imposed and that includes the conclusion of the Women’s World Cup. Australia needs to beat India in a semi-final on Thursday night to make the final where prizemoney of $840,000 awaits the winner.
That could counter, in the short term at least, the looming likelihood they will be unemployed world champions.
The 15 players in the squad can share the prizemoney among themselves, that’s $56,000 each, or offer some to support staff, including coach Matthew Mott, who remains contracted to CA.
Both CA and the players union have refrained from talking to the players during the tournament, and the ACA will work on a process for working with them when the tournament ends.
Neither party wants the women’s team to be unemployed but a claim from Test great Adam Gilchrist that the new pay deal could be done “within a week” were downplayed by those close to the talks.
But his former teammate Johnson said while expectations were growing a deal would be done the relationship between the aggrieved players and the governing body was almost beyond repair.
“Once it’s all dealt with, I think the player-CA relationship is going to be a struggle,” Johnson said on Wednesday.
“Even if it gets sorted, the damage has already been done.
“There has been big personal insults thrown around about the players being greedy and those kinds of things, which is not the case, and much more. The damage has been done so the relationship is going to have to build again.”
While the bulk of Australian’s national and state players remain unemployed, the 70 who have existing state contracts were paid as normal last week.
Most state squads have continued training as normal, even those not getting paid. while some of Australia’s rising stars are also on a 10-day tour of India, being paid for by CA, as part of the National Performance Squad’s three-month winter camp.
And cricket has quickly latched on to rising star Will Sutherland after he turned his back on the AFL last weekend, inviting him to a batting camp in Brisbane this week.