Smith hopeful of avoiding Ashes boycott

Australia captain Steve Smith says he and his team-mates want to prevent a boycott of the Ashes series, as he welcomed reports Cricket Australia (CA) will now consider allowing independent mediation to help end the current pay dispute.

The ESPN Cricinfo website reported that CA may backflip on its refusal to negotiate with a third party, a week after chairman David Peever knocked back such an offer from the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA).

The change of heart comes after it was revealed the ACA plans to establish a new business to manage players’ intellectual property and marketing rights should the Memo of Understanding (MOU) remain unsigned after the June 30 deadline.

“We’ve called for a third party to come into the MOU negotiation,” ACA CEO Alastair Nicholson told Cricinfo.

“We’re waiting for a second response on that from CA. There’s obviously operational things that are going on day to day, but we’re keen to get through this impasse.

“We’ve got to be optimistic about it … we’re expecting (a response) to come potentially this week.”

Speaking at Lord’s ahead of Friday’s Champions Trophy warm-up against Sri Lanka, Smith confirmed he’d signed up to the ACA’s new IP company.

“I think everyone has signed up to that,” Smith said.

“We are supportive of the ACA and what they are doing back home.

“They are working really hard with CA to get a deal right. And I am sure in time they will get that and everything will be okay for everyone involved.”

Nicholson will arrive in London on Friday and expects to have received a response from CA when he lands at Heathrow airport.

He will update the Australia squad about the ongoing negotiations after David Warner last week flagged the prospect of the players being unavailable to play in the Ashes later this year should the stand-off continue.

As things stand, CA will not continue to pay players after June 30, opening the door for the game’s biggest names to feature in lucrative Twenty20 competitions overseas instead of battling to retain the urn from England on home soil.

“I saw David’s comments,” Smith said.

“Of course we want to play in the Ashes and we want everything to go really well there. It’s just about making sure the guys finalise a deal and then everything will be fine.

“There’s nothing from us saying that we don’t want to play. We certainly want to be playing in the Ashes.

“Hopefully they’ll get things resolved soon and everything will be back to normal.”

Australia open their Champions Trophy campaign against New Zealand at Edgbaston on June 2 and Smith said winning the tournament for the first time since 2009 would go some way to strengthening the team’s bargaining position.

“If we win the Champions Trophy, that would be really good for the playing group,” Smith said.

“We’re sticking really strong together and we’re backing what the ACA is doing back home.” (Courtesy AAP)