Wellington: A pay dispute involving New Zealand's top players was deadlocked on Thursday with a possible strike threatening the start of the summer season and a tour by India.
The Cricket Players' Association (CPA) is demanding a player payments pool of NZ $ 7.2 million ($3.4 million) dollars while management, New Zealand Cricket (NZC), is offering $NZ 4.7 million. Both sides went into mediation on Thursday supervised by a government Department of Labour mediator but NZC chief executive Martin Snedden told reporters no deal was reached. "That's where the discussions finished," Snedden said. India arrives here early in December for a two-Test, five One-day International tour, which sports media say could now be hit. Snedden gave a firm no when asked if the lucrative tour was under threat but it appears NZC and the Cricket Players Association is now no longer talking. He said the issue was increasingly harming the image of New Zealand's top summer sport. "It's damaging the whole reputation of cricket. It's been a very tiring process," Snedden said. It was evident the situation is moving into a stand-off with NZC demanding the right to talk one-on-one with each of the 100-plus CPA players and the union deferring any decision on that. Snedden said NZC wanted to get its message directly to players, reflecting his lack of confidence in CPA. CPA spokesman Rob Nichol said the parties hadn't come close to agreeing over the pay issue, which has seen first-class players on strike since October 1, although the strike has been barely noticed to date. Rugby finished last Saturday. Nichol said the CPA would take Snedden's request for a meeting with all six first-class teams back to the players and they would respond on Monday. That would also be when their position for November would be made clear, which inevitably seems to be more strike action. That would cancel the season-opening Max tournament on November 16-17 and threaten the State Championship, which starts on November 23. Reports here have indicated New Zealand will keep the India tour alive, even if it cannot put the best players on the field. Snedden said that in the talks NZC's demanded players to sign a four-year International Cricket Council (ICC) player terms agreement until 2006. That agreement would generate dividends of $ 550 million from television rights and sponsorship, to be distributed to the cricket-playing nations and form a key part of NZC's remuneration package. "Unless we know our players are committed to that, we can't progress," Snedden said.
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