SA Cricketers' Association CEO Tony Irish. Picture: AVUSA
SA Cricketers' Association CEO Tony Irish. Picture: AVUSA

Cricket SA is in more trouble with their lifeblood: the players.

Already being dragged to court over a proposed domestic structure that could cost 70 professional cricketers their jobs‚ Cricket SA now faces demands from the players to settle an unpaid bill from the 2018 Mzansi Super League (MSL).

It is not a good week for the game‚ what with the men’s Test squad on their way back from India having delivered their worst performance in 83 years.

The SA Cricketers’ Association (SACA) said in a release on Wednesday that they had lodged a formal dispute related to a breach of an agreement‚ signed last November‚ that granted Cricket SA use of the players’ commercial rights for the MSL.

The price‚ Business Day has learnt‚ was R2.4m‚ which was to have been paid into SACA’s players’ trust.

“Unfortunately Cricket SA has persistently refused to pay an agreed amount relating to the use of the players’ commercial rights‚ and consequently the players have yet to be paid for these‚” the release quoted SACA CEO Tony Irish as saying.

“This has occurred despite Cricket SA having benefited from the use of the rights in last year’s MSL.

“We have been trying to resolve this with Cricket SA for many months but have now reached the point where formal steps have to be taken as players remain out of pocket.”

The saga will now move through a mediation and arbitration process. The latter is binding‚ so a player strike is unlikely.

On the other front‚ SACA’s high court action‚ launched in May‚ has not made much progress.

“In normal circumstances one would have expected the court application to be heard in or around October this year‚” Irish was quoted as saying. “However, failures on the part of Cricket SA to comply with the time periods provided for in the rules of court have led to unnecessary delays.

“Cricket SA also failed to respond for a long period at attempts to establish a process aimed at resolving the issues around the domestic restructure. All of this has obviously been very frustrating for SACA and it creates uncertainty for the players.”

SACA‚ Irish was at pains to point out‚ had not been overly keen to call their lawyers.

“SACA remains committed to the court application as this is necessary to deal with Cricket SA’s decision to unilaterally impose a new domestic structure on the players without consultation and in clear breach of signed agreements between SACA and Cricket SA.

“This imposed structure‚ if allowed‚ would lead to a very significant number of provincial players losing their careers as professional cricketers and it would also give rise to the likelihood of substantial cuts in the earnings and benefits of franchise players.

“In addition we believe that it will weaken the standard of our top-flight domestic cricket across playing formats‚ at a time when we can ill afford to do this.”

SA were thrashed by an innings for the second consecutive time by India in Ranchi on Tuesday‚ the first time they have sunk so low since 1936.

Cricket SA‚ who SACA estimate could record losses of up to R1bn by the end of the 2022 rights cycle‚ did not immediately respond to requests for comment.