London:Barely six months before the Ashes, the England and Wales Cricket Board finds itself in a pay dispute with star players, including skipper Andrew Strauss, who are unhappy with the new central contracts tabled last October.
The English players are concerned about the payments they would receive during the rest period as ECB has a squad rotation policy.
The players' salaries are incentivised by appearance fee and win bonuses under the current payment system, which means a resting player will see his income dwindle.
Under the current contract, the Test fee is about USD 10,280, while a central contract plus appearance fee can add up to around USD 770,000 per year.
ECB managing director Hugh Morris and CEO David Collier are currently in Bangladesh to discuss the issue with the Professional Cricketers' Association to resolve the dispute.
"The situation is that the players are currently under contract under the terms of last year. We're working in good faith but there are a few points that need ironing out. It's a high priority," Morris was quoted as saying by 'The Sun'.
It is the second consecutive year in which England's top players have been engaged in a pay dispute with the ECB.
Last year, availability for the Indian Premier League was also a big issue but this year with just two players from England Test squad in Bangladesh Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood having IPL deals, it is no more an problem.
"The IPL is separate and is not one of the issues. Both sides want to get a deal done and we don't want to be in this situation again. We have got a group of players that are very proud to play for England," Morris said.
With the Ashes looming large, striking a balance between resting the key players and ensuring they don't lose out much in terms of salary is an issue which will need immediate attention.
"Resting players and managing workloads is a key factor and how you remunerate a player during those periods is a complex issue," a source was quoted as saying by Telegraph Sports.
"There is no set answer to that on both sides and we're dancing around it a bit at the moment," the source added.