Australia coach and former president of the Australian Cricketers Association Darren Lehmann has dismissed suggestions the nation's top players won't be available for the upcoming Ashes series against England.
Lehmann, who as ACA president from 2006-2010 was closely involved in the negotiation of the 2009-11 Memorandum of Understanding, said today a deal will be reached between the ACA and Cricket Australia and "there's no panic" over the stalled negotiations.
Australia's one-day squad assembles in England this weekend to begin their preparations for the ICC Champions Trophy tournament that gets underway next month, and Lehmann concedes the standoff in talks over a new MOU due to be agreed upon by July 1 is "going to be a bit of a distraction".
Quick single: Past players call for pay talks to move forward
But he told reporters in Brisbane today that the players were in good spirits despite the backdrop of ongoing industrial unrest and that a deal will be reached once meaningful discussions between the ACA and CA formally begin.
"Both sides I'm sure will get there," Lehmann said today.
"It traditionally stays quite late in the negotiations (to reach an agreement), we had that last time and the time before that and the time before that.
"So there's no panic, it's just about those two parties getting together.
"Both sides are respectful, they'll get the deal done I'm sure.
"Both parties have just got to get talking.
"Once they do that, they'll get a deal done and everyone can move forward."
Asked whether the involvement of Australia's top-line Test players in this summer's home Ashes series was at risk, as has been canvassed in the past week, Lehmann – who was closely involved when Australia players last contemplated the prospect of strike action in 1997 – claimed it was highly unlikely.
"No, I wouldn't think so, and I'd hope not as a fan," he said when asked if Test players might boycott the Ashes.
"I'm sure that won't happen.
"There's going to be discussions (among the playing group), that's a natural way from a players point of view and a CA point of view, and it's playing out in the media as we know.
"We can just concentrate on getting back and getting ready for cricket, we've got (some of the 15-man Champions Trophy squad) guys in India, some in England and some here.
"So once we get all together we'll talk about, and then move forward.
"It is going to be a bit of a distraction, there's no doubt about that but at the end of the day we concentrate on the cricket.
"We're there to do a job and play as well as we possibly can."
With the deadline for reaching agreement on a new MOU that spans more than 600 pages just six weeks away, the ACA's request that an independent mediator be appointed was rejected by CA chairman David Peever yesterday.
ACA president, and former Test wicketkeeper Greg Dyer, had written to Peever calling for the appointment of a mediator as "a matter of priority" to help break the impasse that has developed over the two parties conflicting stance on the revenue-sharing model used to distribute payments to players.
The ACA believes the model, introduced in the landmark 1997 agreement under which all professional cricketers receive a percentage share of Australian cricket revenue, must be retained to ensure that players at every level remain "partners in the game".
Quick single: Revenue-sharing remains sticking point
CA is proposing a modified revenue sharing model whereby men's and women's international players share in up to $20 million of financial surpluses generated from international cricket, while domestic men and women's players receive capped pay increases of 18 per cent and 150 per cent respectively.
Peever rejected the call for mediation, claiming it would be "extraordinary" for a mediator to be appointed before negotiations had formally begun, and cited the ACA's insistence on pre-conditions (the retention of the revenue sharing model) being met before negotiations could start as the reason for the current impasse.
Asked why he believed the revenue sharing issue had become such a sticking point, Lehmann – whose contract as national coach has been extended until the end of Australia's dual World Cup and Ashes campaign in the UK in 2019 – opted to shoulder arms.
"I have my views on that, but I'm not going to share them with you guys," Lehmann told today's media conference.
"I'm literally speaking to both the players and to CA."