JUST as the dark clouds appeared to be lifting in cricket's soul-destroying pay war, Cricket Australia chairman David Peever has launched a scathing attack on the players' association, accusing them of sabotaging the game.
In a column written by Peever in The Australian newspaper, he blasts the Australian Cricketers Association for their "reckless" tactics and blamed them for damaging the game.
It's an extraordinary fuse to light at a time when both sides of the fence had confirmed negotiations at the highest level were finally progressing constructively towards a resolution to the 244-day fight.
Peever rubbished commentary suggesting he was motivated to end the revenue share model for industrial relations reasons stemming from his time at mining giants Rio Tinto.
The Chairman insisted Cricket Australia's proposed changes to the pay model were for the good of the game and were supported by the states and by correspondence he's received from junior clubs around the country.
But it was Peever's stinging assessment of the ACA which has the potential to reignite tensions at a time when there was finally light at the end of the tunnel for a sport currently in a state of disrepute.
"CA has made what in any normal circumstances would be regarded as a very generous offer," wrote Peever.
"It includes healthy pay increases for male players, a more than 150 per cent increase in pay for female players and gender equity in both pay and conditions, along with a share of any surplus for all players and major increases in other support and benefits.
"The ACA has responded by not only rejecting that proposal (and recent concessions) out of hand, but by launching a campaign of such sustained ferocity that anyone could be forgiven for thinking CA was proposing the reintroduction of slavery.
"Not content with that level of overreaction, the ACA has gone much further, refusing to allow players to tour, threatening to drive away commercial sponsors and damage the prospects of broadcast partners, lock up player intellectual property into its own business ventures, and even stage its own games.
"It's a reckless strategy that can only damage the game and therefore the interests of the ACA's members."
Peever said it was a "myth" that he was out to bust the players' union and stressed that as a former grade player himself, he believes cricketers ought to be rewarded for their contribution to the game.
The Chairman said it was important CA and the ACA work together.
"For the record, I respect the role of the ACA - and unions in general - to negotiate on behalf of members," Peever wrote.
"I recognise the place of collective bargaining and I accept the industrial relations framework.
"When this dispute is resolved, I would like to see the ACA resume the important and constructive role it has played in cricket until recent times. Any claims that I hold contrary views are untrue."