Lillee considering leaving Cricket Australia after pay dispute

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“At the moment I’m out of [a] contract and as again with Cricket Australia, they’re quibbling over an increase, so I don’t know if I’ve got a contract”

Legendary Australia pace bowler Dennis Lillee may not be around to help left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson and the rest of the national team’s pace attack for much longer due to a pay dispute with Cricket Australia.

This is the second time that Lillee has become involved in a heated dispute with the board.

Lillee’s contract with Cricket Australia expired at the beginning of the year, but the 64-year-old has refused to sign a new contract since some of his terms have not been met yet.

“They [the young bowlers] are good and they do need direction,” Lillee told SEN Radio. “But at the moment I’m out of [a] contract and as again with Cricket Australia, they’re quibbling over an increase, so I don’t know if I’ve got a contract.

“Out of the goodness of my heart I am still in touch with him, he’s a good lad and he’s got a big future, but I’m over that, I’ve got other work to do. Not particularly Pat but then everyone comes on board and Cricket Australia think ‘here he is, he’ll just continue to do it anyway’. So I’m taking a stance.”

Responding to Lillee’s comments, a Cricket Australia spokesman said: “A number of our consultants come out of contract outside the Australian summer, including Dennis Lillee. We are currently working through that recontracting process. Dennis is clearly a great asset to Australian cricket and we want to ensure he stays involved with the game.”

Lillee was responsible for transforming Johnson into a nightmare for batsmen after he was dropped from the national team following his horrendous performance during the 2010-11 Ashes series.

“Not only did I spend a lot of time with him, but most of the time John Inverarity was the guy who came down to most of the sessions I had with Mitch,” Lillee said. “If I was a young fast bowler who got injured and lost his way and technique was all over the shop and the chairman was there, wouldn’t that give you a fillip?

“That gave him confidence that he was wanted, then he worked bloody hard at all the technical issues and all the fitness issues – he had to go through a very rigorous regime before I’d even touch him with the technical side. We showed him what to do, he did the work, so it’s over to him and look at the result.”

Lillee has also been working closely with all-rounder James Faulkner, who has become a superstar almost overnight.

“He’s working on improving his technique slightly, which will give him more pace and actually give him that one that comes back into the right-hander regularly at will,” Lillee said. “He’s close to it, but when you’re playing a lot it’s hard to put the time in that you need. But he’s working on it, he’s really convinced it’s going to help, he’s made some improvements and he will continue to.

“I think it’s fantastic at the moment that we’ve built up this battery of quicks, then also we’ve got so many reserves around at the moment that I think it’s great for Australian cricket. It’s no mistake that we’re doing well because the quicks have set the scene and bowled so well that the batsmen don’t have to make that big a score, the quicks are doing the job. It’s certainly the era of the fast bowlers at the moment in Australian cricket.”

When he was hired, Lillee’s role with Cricket Australia was described in this manner: “The Hall of Famer will provide coaching services, guidance and mentorship to Australia’s up and coming fast bowlers as well as the current national men’s team. Lillee will be available face-to-face and on mobile to the squad, but won’t travel extensively abroad with the national team. He will work closely with full-time bowling coach Ali de Winter as Australia prepare to tackle India in a Test series next month and then the highly-anticipated Ashes series starting in July.”

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