By Nick Said
CAPETOWN (Reuters) – The South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) have threatened strike action by players weeks before England are due to arrive for a four-test tour as growing dismay at the country’s governing body threatens to boil over.
South Africa and England are due to meet on Boxing Day in the first test at Centurion, but the chaos engulfing Cricket South Africa (CSA) has placed that under threat as players meet to discuss industrial action this Friday.
SACA chief executive Tony Irish told Reuters the England fixtures are “unlikely” to be affected by any industrial action, but could not rule it out.
“We still have to discuss the principle of it (industrial action), this is a very early stage of discussion and we will be very mindful of the importance of the international fixtures. It is unlikely those will be affected,” he said.
“We will be responsible around the international tours, because we know that those affect teams from outside of South Africa.”
Irish said any strike action will be a last resort, but added the players have been left exasperated by CSA’s refusal to engage with them on a number of issues.
“It is an exhaustion of all other means of trying to deal with issues. Agreements are breached, we raise concerns, we try to resolve issues, and the result from the other side (CSA) is just to carry on. At some stage you must decide whether you will accept that,” he said.
“It is about protecting the game and making sure it is healthy and sustainable going forward. That is critical for the players, whose livelihoods depend on it.”
SACA are embroiled in a court battle with CSA over plans to restructure the local game, expanding it from six domestic franchises to 12, but which could mean a reduction in earnings for players.
SACA, which represents 310 professional cricketers, have previously bemoaned a lack of transparency from CSA on a range of issues relating to the financial position of the organisation and concerns around its governance.
There is also fresh unhappiness that a Fantasy League product endorsed by CSA for their Mzansi Super League Twenty20 competition is using names and images of players without their permission, potentially also putting them at risk of unwittingly flouting gambling rules in CSA’s own anti-corruption code.
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)