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Lehmann plays down Ashes strike threat

Updated May 19, 2017

BRISBANE: 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 disruption.

“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 have 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.”

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017