Australia's cricketers have been warned this year's Ashes series could be scrapped, even if a new pay deal is reached with the game's governing body, reports said on Saturday. Australian Cricketers Association chief Alistair Nicholson has warned the players via email the showpiece Test series against England, due to begin in Brisbane on November 23, is under threat. Negotiations over a new Memorandum of Understanding between players and Cricket Australia have all but broken down, although Nicholson and CA counterpart James Sutherland are scheduled to meet on Sunday, Fairfax Media said.
"If there is agreement, the next step would be the more intensive MOU and contract drafting period," Nicholson told the players in an email, seen by Fairfax Media.
"Given past experience and the massive detail involved, this would take some time and still may not be completed with time enough to meet the needs of fans, sponsors and broadcasters invested in the upcoming tours and the (Australian) summer of cricket. I add that it is hard to conceive of any further flexibility the players could possibly offer in these negotiations."
Cricket Australia said it was surprised and perplexed by the ACA's claims but would not comment on key details.
Australia's next series is a Test tour of Bangladesh in August.
While the Ashes are almost four months away, much preparation, including broadcast inventory and sponsorship and advertising deals, must be locked in far earlier, Fairfax Media said.
It added that the players had thought the two parties had reached common ground since Sutherland joined negotiations earlier this month.
After months of negotiations, the players and CA have failed to reach agreement on a new pay deal, leaving 230 cricketers unemployed since the end of June when their contracts expired.
In an escalation of the protracted pay dispute, the players, through their union the ACA, decided to boycott this month's Australia A tour of South Africa.