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NZ players in pay dispute

Wellington: A pay dispute involving New Zealandís top cricketers was deadlocked here Thursday with a possible strike threatening the start of the summer season and a tour by India.

The Cricket Playersí Association (CPA) are demanding a player payments pool of NZ $ 7.2 million while the management, New Zealand Cricket (NZC), are offering NZ $ 4.7 million.

Both sides went into mediation Thursday supervised by a government department of labour mediator but NZC chief executive Martin Snedden told reporters no deal was reached. ďThatís where the discussions finished,Ē Snedden said.

India arrive here early in December to play two-Tests and seven one-day Internationals which may now be hit.

Snedden gave a firm no when asked if the lucrative tour was under threat but it appears the NZC and the CPA are now no longer talking.

He said the issue was increasingly harming the image of New Zealandís top summer sport. ďItís damaging the whole reputation of cricket. Itís been a very tiring process,Ē 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 the NZC wanted to get their message directly to players, reflecting his lack of confidence in the CPA.

CPA spokesman Rob Nichol said the parties had not come close to agreeing over the pay issue, which has seen first-class players on strike since October 1.

Nichol said the CPA would take Sneddenís 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 they cannot put the best players on the field.

Snedden said that in the talks NZC demanded that the players sign a four-year International Cricket Council player terms agreement, which would generate dividends of $ 550 million from television rights and sponsorship. The amount will be distributed to the cricket-playing nations and form a key part of NZCís remuneration package.ďUnless we know our players are committed to that, we canít progress,Ē Snedden said.

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