Ireland continue to face a nervous wait before they can confirm that Australia’s visit to Stormont for the one-day international on Saturday fortnight will definitely go ahead.
The threat of industrial action by Australia’s players, including a boycott of their UK tour, due to start in two weeks’ time, has not been ruled out although the players union’s chief executive, Paul Marsh, said a strike would be the last resort.
Talks between the Australia Cricketers’ Association and Cricket Australia (CA) on a new pay deal, with a June 30 deadline, has yet to be resolved with the players’ share of CA’s cricket revenue apparently the major stumbling block to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was due last year.
Reports emerged at the weekend of the possibility of players’ boycott, to expedite an agreement but another extension of the existing MoU still remains the most likely outcome.
Marsh said: “That sort of stuff (a strike) is always an absolute last resort. Our preferred strategy, and I don’t know what Cricket Australia’s position is, would be to keep rolling the current deal until we can reach an agreement. Nobody wants a situation where the players aren't playing.
“We're preparing for everything. We're not going to get to the 30th of June and say we haven't got a deal, what do we do now?
“Our job is to make sure when that time comes, hopefully we have got a deal, that's our absolute priority, but if we haven't then we've got to be able to talk different options. Obviously we'll take those options back to the collective player group and we'll make a decision from there.”
The Australians are due to arrive in England two weeks today for a tour which starts with a one-day game against Leicestershire on June 21, before they fly to Belfast for the ODI two days later.
English cricket secured another recession-busting deal for the overseas rights to home and domestic international matches . The deal with ESPN Star Sports for exclusive rights in Asia, the Middle East and Africa is worth more than £100m.
Today's fixtures: Ulster Bank League Section One (11am): Lurgan v Bangor
Ulster Bank Schools Cup semi final: Grosvenor Grammar v Limavady Grammar (11.15am).