The Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) has hit back at Cricket Australia (CA) chairman David Peever, saying his intervention into the pay dispute has done "nothing to further any progress" in finding a resolution.
Peever has written a column in The Australian newspaper, defending CA's approach to the pay negotiations and criticising the ACA for being "reckless".
Negotiations to resolve the impasse are continuing, with 230 cricketers out of contract, while doubt has been cast on upcoming tours of Bangladesh and India, as well as this summer's Ashes series.
"The imputation that the players and the ACA are sabotaging the game is wrong," the ACA said in a statement.
The parties are at odds over CA's attempt to dismantle a fixed-revenue-sharing system of player payments, which has been in place for the last two decades.
Critics of Peever say he is motivated by an ideological, anti-union agenda, but he dismisses the suggestion, saying it is "a myth, and deeply insulting to many people across the cricket spectrum".
Peever is a former managing director of Rio Tinto's Australian operations and he once made a speech publicly campaigning for "direct engagement between companies and employees … without the competing agenda of a third party, constantly seeking to extend its reach into areas best left to management".
Many observers see the fingerprints of this philosophy in CA's approach to the current pay dispute, particularly in its attempts to bypass the ACA and offer senior players individual contract offers.
Peever said those earlier comments were given in a "completely different context" but nevertheless defended their substance.
"It's an uncontroversial view shared by all reasonable people," he wrote in The Australian.
But this "uncontroversial view" is not shared by the players, who have repeatedly asked CA to stop contacting them directly, and instead go through the ACA.
Peever also took aim at the association's PR strategy, describing it as "a campaign of such sustained ferocity that anyone could be forgiven for thinking CA was proposing the reintroduction of slavery".
ACA refuse to apologise for 'holding CA to account'
In its tone and message, Peever's column stands in sharp contrast to the narrative of the past week, where piecemeal progress had been reported from both the ACA and CA.
CA director Mark Taylor said on Tuesday compromise was needed on "both sides", while CA chief executive James Sutherland and his ACA counterpart, Alistair Nicholson, came together for a face-to-face meeting earlier this week.
Against that background, the ACA said the timing of Peever's column was "disappointing".
While the bickering continues, domestic cricketers are continuing to train with their respective state squads. These squads are now split between a minority who have contracts that extend beyond the most recent MOU (70 players nationally) and the rest who are no longer being paid.
"It is almost two weeks after CA have forced the players in to unemployment and is refusing to back-pay them, despite the players training for free," the ACA said in its statement.
"The ACA don't apologise for holding CA to account or for asking the hard questions on behalf of our members that must be answered for the betterment of cricket."
Some players have already sought assistance from the ACA's player hardship fund, while others are considering part-time work outside of cricket.
Retired Australia Test bowler Jason Gillespie has called on both sides to end the game of "tit for tat" in the media.
"Why have there been so many press releases stating disappointment at the lack of meaningful talks?" he asked in a column for The Roar website.
Gillespie was meant to be in South Africa coaching the Australia A team, before that tour became the first on-field casualty of the pay dispute.
"Find a compromise and let's get on with the cricket," he said.
"It's not a great look for our game."
Australia is due to play a two-Test series in Bangladesh in late August, leaving the parties with about four weeks to reach an agreement.
This article was originally sourced from ABC online.