Efforts to repair the fractured relationship between Cricket Australia (CA) and the players’ union have taken an key step forward with senior officials meeting to discuss the recommendations of a scathing independent report.
Tuesday’s high-level gathering, described by one insider as the first of its nature, comes after the Longstaff report called upon the two bodies to meet within 30 days.
There is hope that the talks between key figures at the Australian Cricketers’ Association and a CA contingent, understood to be led by interim chairman Earl Eddings, will build upon recent improvements in what had been a frosty relationship.
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Ties between the two groups hit an all-time low during last year’s pay dispute and threatened to plunge again when the ACA launched a bid to soften Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft’s ball-tampering bans.
CA’s board last week unanimously resolved to uphold the bans — a decision accepted by the ACA, whose conciliatory tone was noted by CA officials.
Both parties are keen to draw a line under a period of turmoil which culminated in the departure of CA chairman David Peever along with several executives.
CA’s board will consult the ACA on recommendations from the Longstaff report, while joint initiatives related to grassroots funding and premier cricket are understood to be in the works.
The ACA has a presence on CA’s playing conditions advisory committee which will weigh up empowering umpires to send players off for continuous abusive sledging.
Another move up for discussion is changing the criteria of awards like the Allan Border Medal to factor in good behaviour, although there is little chance of this coming into effect immediately given that voting is already well underway.
Former greats Shane Warne and Ian Chappell strongly criticised the ACA over their submission regarding the Cape Town trio’s suspension and president Greg Dyer’s declaration that the union would be “relentless” in pursuing a softer penalty.
Chappell suggested the ACA needed a new president in light of Dyer’s “provocative and opportunistic call”, while Warne said he was disappointed Dyer launched the campaign.
Both Smith and Warner look set to be welcomed back into the Australian cricket fold when their bans expire in March next year. Bancroft’s suspension ends next month.
Smith faced frontline quicks and NSW teammates Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins in an hour-long session at the SCG on Tuesday. The former captain had breakfast with national coach Justin Langer on Monday.
Warner also batted in the nets against Cummins and Hazlewood in a separate session on Sunday with Langer standing in the umpire’s position.