Sydney - National coach Darren Lehmann admitted on Thursday
a bitter pay dispute will be a distraction for Australia at next month's ICC
Champions Trophy, but played down a boycott of this year's Ashes series.
Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association
are locked in a tense stand-off over the long-running talks, with vice-captain
David Warner warning of a strike during the showpiece series against England,
starting in November.
Lehmann conceded the players' full focus wasn't on the Champions
Trophy in England and Wales, but said he was confident there would be no Ashes
"I'd hope not as a fan. I'm sure that won't
happen," he told reporters in Brisbane, adding that he was in regular
contact about the issue with Australian captain Steve Smith, currently playing
for Rising Pune Supergiant in the Indian Premier League.
"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 (in India)
for four months and hasn't been home. But he's ready to go."
Warner said this week players would not back down from their
demand that CA keep its current revenue-sharing pay arrangement and cautioned
they might walk out on the Ashes if relations became strained further.
Lehmann said he would address the matter once the entire
squad for the Champions Trophy was together.
"You have to do that. You have to keep communication
open 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. There's no panic, it's just about the two parties getting together."
CA chairperson David Peever has rejected the ACA's request
for the bodies to try mediation.
"While CA absolutely shares your stated desire for a
new agreement ... it seems extraordinary to be considering the involvement of a
mediator before the ACA has attempted to negotiate," Peever said in
correspondence to the ACA.
"The approach the ACA has taken in demanding certain
preconditions be met before it is prepared to begin negotiations is the
fundamental reason why no progress has been made to date."
The two bodies have been at loggerheads for more than six
CA is determined to scrap revenue-sharing after 20 years,
saying more funds were needed for the game's grassroots, and that its offer
provided handsomely for players.
The ACA is equally resolved to keep revenue-sharing, saying
the system was not broken and did not need fixing.
The notional deadline is June 30, when the current memorandum
of understanding expires.