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Lehmann downplays possibility of no Ashes squad

Darren Lehmann, Australia’s coach, is confident the pay dispute engulfing Australian cricket won’t lead to a player boycott of the Ashes.

Negotiations over a new pay deal have broken down between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) with the current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) expiring on June 30. Relations sunk further when a scheduled meeting on Wednesday (May 17) between the sparring parties didn’t happen after a letter from CA chairman David Peever told the ACA its approach was “the fundamental reason why no progress has been made”.

After two decades of the revenue sharing model, where cricketers have received about 25 per cent of the total revenue, CA want to dismantle it for greater flexibility to distribute funds. The contentious proposed overhaul has led players threatening strike action after June 30, including next summer’s Ashes series.

Speaking before departing for Australia’s Champions Trophy campaign in the UK, Lehmann remained hopeful of a resolution before the looming deadline. “No, I wouldn’t think so (that a strike will happen),” Lehmann said on Thursday (May 18). “And I’d hope not as a fan. I’m sure that won’t happen.”

Lehmann revealed he planned to address the issue to the entire squad ahead of the Champions Trophy. “You have to do that. You have to keep it open and communication so we know what direction everyone’s going,” he said. “It is going to be a bit of a distraction, there’s no doubt about that. Just getting together and working it out is the way to go.

“It always stays quite late in the negotiations – it happened last time and the time before that,” he added. “You have those issues. Every sport has them, to be perfectly honest – there’s sports around Australia having them now. There’s no panic, it’s just about the two parties getting together.”

Lehmann said he had been in constant contact with captain Steve Smith, who has guided the Rising Pune Supergiant to the Indian Premier League final. “We’ve spoken quite a lot, on many issues at the moment,” he said. “He’s really looking forward to getting the lads back together. There’s been a lot of emails and text messages around the place.

“He is (in good spirits). He’s been there for four months and hasn’t been home. But he’s ready to go,” he added.

© Cricbuzz


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