NEWS

Ashes boycott 'will not happen' says Aussie coach

May 18, 2017

The threat of Australia fielding a weakened side - or none at all - in the Ashes this winter will not come to pass, according to the Aussies' team coach Darren Lehmann.

Lehmann, who has coached the Australian team in the past three Ashes series, said the pay dispute between the players and Cricket Australia (CA) will not lead to a strike, despite comments from vice-captain David Warner that it might.

The issue concerns the latest pay offer from Cricket Australia, which proposes a pay rise for both the men's and women's teams, but would see the end of a revenue-sharing scheme.

Lehmann said: "I have my views but I'm not going to share it. I'm talking to both players and CA.

"I think both parties have just got to get talking. They'll get a deal done and once that happens, everyone will be right and we'll move forward and get the game going the way it should be.

"But 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."

The coach said he was disappointed that the issue should have arisen as a "distraction" ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales next month. There is no threat to Australia's participation in the event because the current contracts run until June 30th, but strike action could take place thereafter. The first Test series that could be affected is Australia's planned tour of Bangladesh in August, something that could cause serious consternation in the Asian country after the Aussies pulled out of their proposed tour there last year on safety grounds.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for this summer's Kia Oval Test need have no concerns about seeing two full-strength sides, as England and South Africa gear up to do battle.

The tourists will, however, be without Dale Steyn this summer after the veteran fast bowler pulled out with an ongoing shoulder problem.

It would probably have been Steyn's final Test tour of England, but fans will be able to admire the rising talent of Kagiso Rabada, who impressed on England's most recent tour of South Africa. He is currently ranked seventh in the International Cricket Council rankings for Test bowlers, one place above Steyn.

Fellow opening bowler Vernon Philander is 11th and fast bowler Morne Morkel 14th, so the Proteas will still boast a formidable seam attack this summer. However, England have the two highest-ranked bowlers at present, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad placed fifth and sixth respectively.

While the summer should be exciting, fans will doubtless maintain an interest in the Ashes, partly because they will hope England's batsmen and bowlers can find some good form to take into the winter and also because the unfolding negotiations down under will determine what kind of opposition they will face.

Those who have already booked flights and tickets may be left disappointed if Australia put out a scratch side, but this would not be unprecedented: The Packer Affair, in which many top Aussie players were lured away from Tests by the greater financial rewards of Kerry Packer's World Series cricket, led to a home side deprived of its stars taking on an almost full-strength side in 1978-79. England won the six-match series 5-1.

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