Darren Lehmann is confident cricket’s pay dispute won’t lead to a player boycott of the Ashes but the Australian coach has urged both sides to find a resolution. A former president of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, Lehmann admitted the tense stand-off over a new memorandum of understanding would prove a distraction at next month’s ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales.
But he said he was sure the situation would not worsen to the point where Australian players would go on strike for the Ashes, as flagged by David Warner. “No, I wouldn’t think so,” Lehmann said. “And I’d hope not as a fan. I’m sure that won’t happen.”
Warner said earlier this week players were refusing to back down from their demand that Cricket Australia keep the current revenue-sharing pay arrangement and cautioned they might walk out on the Ashes if relations between the two parties strained further.
Lehmann said he would address the matter once the entire squad for the Champions Trophy had got together. “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. 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 was asked for his view on the merits of the revenue-sharing arrangement but declined to share it. He said he had been in constant contact with skipper Steve Smith, who will be one of the last players to join the Champions Trophy squad after he guided Rising Pune Supergiant to the Indian Premier League final on Monday.
“We’ve spoken quite a lot, on many issues at the moment,” Lehmann 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.”