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Frayed trust can be repaired, says Smith as cricket breakthrough looms

Cricket

Steve Smith doesn’t expect David Warner to cop any blowback when the time comes for Australian cricket’s feuding rivals to smoke the peace pipe. 

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Skipper Smith and vice-captain Warner have taken notably contrasting paths in the pay stoush that appears to be nearing its conclusion.

Both have been vehement in their defence of the revenue sharing model that has shaped players’ salaries since the first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was brokered 20 years ago.

Both have made the point in private and public. Both have supported the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

But Smith has struck a conciliatory tone and rarely made headlines, while Warner has repeatedly whacked his employers in both traditional and social media.

There will be some frank conversations when Pat Howard next speaks with the Test squad, most likely in Darwin during the training camp that starts next week.

Smith said Warner has nothing to fear regarding potential retribution from Howard and Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland.

“No, I think he’ll be OK,” Smith told Fox Sports.

“Obviously he’s been very vocal and he’s supported the ACA through this whole thing and he’s been great.

“Some guys have been really vocal on social media.”

Smith added he had to be “careful” given his working relationship with both CA and ACA officials.

“The way for me to lead in this dispute is to be able to talk to the guys behind the scenes, who are important and who are at the table,” he said.

“And try and get this dispute solved as well as I can.

“It’s had some difficult moments… I’ve been talking to both (ACA boss) Alistair (Nicholson) and Pat Howard on the phone most days. It’s been a long process.”

Pay talks between CA and the ACA continued into last night, with Smith noting “there’s a few things to finalise and tick off” before an agreement can be signed.

Warner isn’t the only star to result in raised eyebrows among CA’s bigwigs.

However, the relationship between unemployed players and administrators has strained on several fronts throughout the saga.

Many players remain disappointed with CA’s hardline approach throughout the scrap, especially Sutherland’s refusal to involve himself in talks during the first half of the year.

Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson both opined recently it will take some time for trust to be restored.

“If there’s been any damage it can be repaired,” Smith said.

“There’s obviously been some arguments amid trying to get a resolution.

“We’re just looking forward to it coming to a close and getting out there and playing some cricket.”

While the ongoing pay dispute will leave its mark, Smith nonetheless plans on exploiting “scars” of a different kind during this summer’s Ashes.

After the side travels to Bangladesh for a two-Test series that starts later this month, Australia will then visit India for a limited-overs tour before returning home for the much-anticipated Ashes.

Smith will be out to reclaim the urn this summer, having excelled with the bat but watched his team tumble to a 3-2 series loss during the 2015 tour of England.

The fresh-faced skipper was also part of the 2013-14 series, during which Mitchell Johnson memorably bowled Australia to a 5-0 series victory.

Smith expects that resounding defeat will be on the minds of some Englishmen when they arrive in Australia.

“Playing at home is always nice. A couple of the guys probably have a few scars from what happened last time when they came out here,” Smith said.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to exploit some of those.”

England’s form in the whites has been patchy. They have lost six of their past nine Tests.

But a recent 239-run win over South Africa was a reminder of how dangerous Joe Root’s team can be, especially when Ben Stokes is firing with bat and ball.

“They’re a good side. They’re playing some pretty good cricket at the moment. They’ve got some dangerous players,” Smith said.

The first Test between Australia and England starts at the Gabba on November 23.

-AAP

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