Australia players to skip 'A' tour of South Africa if MOU is not signed

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Australian players will refuse to participate in the upcoming A tour of South Africa if a new pay deal is not resolved by the end of next week.

An impasse between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) means around 200 of the country's cricketers are now out of contract and effectively unemployed.

Following an emergency meeting of the ACA on Sunday, the organisation's chief executive, Alistair Nicholson, confirmed that players named in the Australia A squads to tour South Africa will meet at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane on Monday to begin preparations.

However, they will only fly out on Saturday if a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) can be negotiated after months of frustration.

An ACA statement read: "The players have resolved that, unless contractually obliged, no male or female players intend to play for a Cricket Australia (CA) team whilst fellow players remain unemployed due to the absence of an MOU.

"This is an outright rejection of CA's attempts to divide and rule. It is a resolution which will be revisited at the next and subsequent ACA Executive meetings, since the players remain hopeful that common sense will prevail and a new MOU can still be agreed on fair terms."

The ACA said Australia's players had expressed a "strong desire" to tour Bangladesh and India later this year, and participate in a home summer of cricket that is scheduled to include an Ashes series.

Its statement added: "To rescue the tours and the summer of cricket referenced above, if there was no agreed MOU, the ACA will be discussing with the players the assignment to the ACA of an exclusive option to employ or second them.

"This means the ACA could offer to facilitate the availability of players on the right terms to assist those games and series that we all wish to see played. It should be regarded as an option for rescuing tours and the summer of cricket absent an agreed MOU which remains the clear preference."

Usman Khawaja, part of Australia's A squad, said the players were united in their decision.

"It was quite an easy phone call in the end because everyone was going in the same direction," said the batsman.

"We're still going to be training this week; going up there [to Brisbane], doing our thing, getting ready and, hopefully, something can be resolved. 

"But if it's not, it's a tough decision that has to be made at this time. Not to go is a sacrifice in some respects but we see the broader picture and the whole of Australian cricket, male and female, are in together on this."

A CA statement read: "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).

"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."