Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

SA’s cricketers are running out of patience with the sport’s administrators. And they hold the balance of power in a game that cannot exist without them.

The South African Cricketers’ Association’s (Saca’s) memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Cricket SA expires at the end of April and Cricket SA has‚ says Saca‚ been stalling on negotiating a new agreement.

Should April 30 come and go without finality on the document that is the cornerstone of how the board deals with the players‚ the latter would be free to pursue their interests in cricket outside SA and could be lost to the game in this country.

Cricket SA on Wednesday said it had "outlined plans to conclude a new MOU with Saca as a matter of urgency".

Plan A seems to be to beg Saca to mark more time than it already has in a process that has dragged on for three months.

New agreement

"In the event of negotiations concerning the new MOU not being completed by April 30, Cricket SA has indicated its willingness to extend existing contracts with the intention of having the new agreement by July this year‚" Cricket SA said.

But Saca on Thursday indicated that the players — cricket’s only viable source of revenue — have had enough bungling.

"We are both surprised and disappointed that Cricket SA has seen fit to make a public statement announcing plans relating to the MOU without giving us any proper opportunity to respond to or to deal with these first‚" a media release quoted Saca CE Tony Irish as saying.

"The plans have caused consternation among players and require a response from Saca.

"The indication of further possible delays and the unworkability of certain aspects of what is being suggested are particular matters of concern to us. The suggestion also that there have actually been negotiations conducted by Saca officials with Cricket SA on the MOU to date is also not correct. Negotiations on the key elements have yet to start.

"Saca has been doing everything possible from its side for approximately three months to engage with Cricket SA on the MOU and to deal with the key elements to enable player contracts to be finalised well in advance of April 30.

"In past MOUs the key elements have always been agreed by the end of February at the latest. Unfortunately, our attempts to date have been met with very little response from Cricket SA and much of our correspondence has gone unanswered.

"The delays have created an environment of uncertainty for players and for franchises who wish to secure their players."

Of Cricket SA’s offer to extend existing contracts‚ Irish was quoted as saying: "This has caused confusion because it doesn’t cater for what is actually happening on the ground for many players.

"Some players have already been told that they will no longer be contracted‚ some will be moving between national and franchise contracts‚ some will be moving between franchises and some will be first-time franchise players.

"Extensions of contract are simply unworkable for all of these players."

Irish pointed out the irony of Cricket SA’s belated recognition of the "urgency" of a sorry situation it is at least partly guilty of creating.

"Though Cricket SA now acknowledges in its media statement that concluding the MOU has become a matter of urgency, it goes on to suggest that a new agreement may only be finalised in July.

"We do not understand why such a long further delay may be necessary."

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