The pay dispute between the players of the ACA and the administrators of CA has failed to be resolved and it appears as though not even the intervention of the Prime Minister would be sufficient at this late hour to prevent the first player strike in the history of cricket in Australia.

There are a few hours on Friday remaining for a new deal to be stuck, but both sides have been nothing but intransigent in sticking to their positions, so it would seem likely that 230 Australian cricketers, male and female, will fall out of contract.

Cricket Australia recently informally tabled an offer to some of the out of contract players to play gratis for love of flag and country, but CA had better hope the players do not take them up on that offer, elsewise the egg on the faces of CA will be sufficient to make more than a few omelets.

On top of the offer to play for free, CA added the additional incentive of six-month bans for uncontracted players who play in unsanctioned matches or signing unapproved endorsement deals.

Some of the players who would be most immediately would be Test players Ashton Agar and Hilton Cartwright. They were selected to the Aussie “A” squad and would leave for South Africa in a week’s time.

The ACA in a couple of days will be held to determine if Agar and Cartwright, along with the nine others selected for South Africa, will boycott the tour. While the players do seem to have some solidarity, a strike is not a foregone conclusion, as some of the players want to go to South Africa to avoid having their records tainted with a black mark and to keep their names in the forefront of any international considerations.

The moves on the part of CA, from an objective distance, seem more that a bit draconian, as the ACA simply wants to maintain the status quo of the last CBA.