A row has broken out between Cricket Australia (CA) and some of the country's leading players about whether they can play in next year's Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament.
At least 11 of Australia's top players, including captain Ricky Ponting and vice skipper Adam Gilchrist, have reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding to play in the lucrative tournament next April and May.
The players could earn up to $1 million each for competing in the month-long series, in excess of their normal annual earnings, but CA boss James Sutherland is threatening to ban them from competing.
Sutherland has written to the players saying he would not grant them consent to play unless his organisation was involved in the negotiations.
"A number of significant issues remain unresolved, particularly regarding Australian players' participation in the proposed events and the terms of participation," Sutherland wrote in a letter published by the Sun-Herald newspaper.
"Until CA is satisfied with the various terms and conditions associated with the IPL and CT20, CA will not consent to you or any other contracted player's participation in the aforementioned tournaments."
The newspaper described the row as having the potential to create the biggest split in the game since Kerry Packer launched World Series Cricket 30 years ago.
It quoted a player's agent, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying CA's threats were a "declaration of war".
"Cricket Australia doesn't want to put the players in a position where they might have to decide between playing for them or in India," the agent said.
"If a player is money orientated, the IPL will win them over. They seem prepared to offer long-term deals and can pay more money. This could be a battle they (CA) won't win. It could divide the game."
CA's manager of public affairs, Peter Young, told reporters on Sunday that the players were obliged to inform CA about their plans but speculation about a major split was speculative.
"I think it is over-egging the pudding a little bit to talk about this being the biggest showdown since World Series Cricket," he said.
"It is more an issue of saying it is a bit rude to sign up without talking to your employer. It would be a breach of contract to play without our permission."