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Cricketers stuck in middle of pay talks

AAP logoAAP 19/12/2016 Rob Forsaith and Michael Ramsey

James Sutherland is wary of Steve Smith, Meg Lanning and their national sides being distracted by a public spat between Cricket Australia and the players' union.

Pay talks between the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) and CA broke down on Monday morning after relations became increasingly hostile in the preceding week.

CA hopes it will take the heat off Smith and Lanning, who each penned a preamble in the ACA's submission regarding a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

"My observation would be the players want to play. They don't want to get involved in these discussions," Sutherland told AAP prior to talks being put on hold.

"They would prefer to concentrate on their cricket. I think it's unfortunate if people continually draw them into it, because they're not interested in that nitty gritty.

"They'll leave the respective administrators to sort things out ... I think they have confidence in Cricket Australia and also confidence in the ACA to work through something."

CA insists players are free to speak publicly about the pay talks without fear of retribution, but few have opted to do so.

High-performance manager Pat Howard, who sits on CA's MoU team, has told national players to contact him at any time regarding the protracted saga that is only just starting.

Pay negotiations heated up after both parties sent their submissions to players.

Smith and vice-captain David Warner wrote in the ACA submission that it "accurately captures the needs of players and from our perspective is in the best interests of the game".

Lanning and Alex Blackwell also added their support in the document, writing "we support the ACA submission and encourage all parties to work together to make this great game even greater".

The ACA's submission raised concerns about a controversial pregnancy clause that has been widely criticised.

CA claims the union agreed to the wording of the clause and feels recent headline have put female players around the country in an unfair position during the women's Big Bash League (WBBL).

Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Grace Harris are among the Southern Stars to be asked about the pregnancy clause in recent days.

"I'm just really focusing on playing cricket at the moment," Lanning said.

Smith echoed her sentiments prior to Australia's first Test against Pakistan.

"I'm worrying about this Test match, with Wahab Riaz charging in bowling 150 km/h, the last thing I want to be thinking about is whether I'm getting paid too much or anything like that," he said.

The current MoU expires in June. Further informal talks were expected early this week, with the next round of formal discussions set to occur in January.

But CA accused the players' union of failing to negotiate in "good faith" in a statement on Monday that confirmed negotiations were on ice until the new year.

ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson was "extremely disappointed" by the development.

"Particularly so early in proceedings," Nicholson said.

"We reject the implication of bad faith. We urge CA to return to the negotiating table for the benefit of the game."

The pregnancy clause is currently being scrutinised by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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