Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat has revealed alternative plans are already being hatched to cover for the absence of an Australia A team for a series starting there next week, saying he had been warned by Cricket Australia of the "possibility of the tour not happening".
An unofficial two-Test series between an Usman Khawaja-led Australia A party and a South Africa A side is due to begin in Pretoria on Wednesday week but will be abandoned by Australian players unless there is significant progress in stalled pay talks with CA that have left many players out of contract since the weekend.
That remains a distant possibility with CA chief James Sutherland having refused to accept the demand of the Australian Cricketers' Association that he enter negotiations himself in an effort to thrash out a peace deal.
The Australia A squad, which also features Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Agar, Travis Head and Jackson Bird, assembled in Brisbane for a staging camp on Monday and will begin training on Tuesday under the supervision of head coach Jason Gillespie and assistants Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin.
Elsewhere, state players rolled up to training despite many facing the prospect of not being paid on the cricketers' next monthly pay day on July 15.
The uncertainty around the participation of the Australia A side in two four-day games and a one-day tri-series also including India has complicated planning for Cricket South Africa, which is now beginning to organise contingency arrangements in the expectation of a tour boycott.
"There is nothing at all that we can do about it. We'll have to deal with whatever happens," CSA chief Lorgat told Fairfax Media from London on Monday.
"We are working on plans, it is no big issue for us to make alternative arrangements.
“We respect what Cricket Australia is working through with the players and we will have to live with the absence of Australia A if it comes to that."
CA team performance boss Pat Howard has been briefing the South Africans on the scenario in Australia.
"I was cautioned that the possibility of the tour not happening is real," Lorgat said.
"We are understanding perfectly well what Cricket Australia and the players need to work through."
India A, led by Test batsman Karun Nair, is also scheduled for two four-day games against South Africa A.
With the dispute ongoing broadcaster Channel 9 will on Tuesday hold its Ashes launch in Sydney. The impasse in Australian cricket is poised to be the talk of the event and one member fo their commentary team, Michael Slater, has already been wound up in the debate, sharing a heated argument with fellow ex-Test opener Ed Cowan on breakfast radio on Monday.
Cowan all but accused CA of wanting to run the game as a dictatorship when Slater suggested players were only digging in because of their salaries.
Cowan, speaking as a guest on Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast, argued the ACA's stance had as much to do with good governance as it did players' income.
"I think your view is seriously impeded by your job at Channel 9," he told Slater.
Slater, who scored more than 5000 Test runs for Australia, snapped back that his opinion has "absolutely nothing to do with me being at Channel 9".