Lillee responds in CA pay dispute
Dennis Lillee has responded to Cricket Australia's announcement that the former Test wicket-taking record holder would no longer be working with the nation's fast bowlers due to a dispute over pay demands, citing the impact of Mitchell Johnson in the past two series as the best measure of his effectiveness.
Having played a major role in Johnson's resurgence, while also being on call to mentor the likes of Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, Lillee's request for a pay increase was knocked back by CA.
However, Lillee, who is presently attending a cricket festival in Philadelphia, said in a statement to Brisbane's Courier-Mail that he was merely asking for a fair financial return for the work he had done, especially given that Johnson was "the difference" between Ashes defeat in England and a rollicking 5-0 sweep at home.
"If my role and influence is to be assessed on any measure, perhaps the contribution to reinvigorating Mitch Johnson's career to becoming the best performing fast bowler in the world last year is a helpful yardstick,'' Lillee said. "We had many, many hours of contact and continual work to achieve his amazing performances of the last 12 months.
"It must be obvious the difference between the Australian team in England and the fantastic Ashes success in Australia was largely due to Mitch's presence, confidence, technique and impact."
While disputing reports that he was only required to work with Australia's pacemen for 11 days last year, Lillee said modern coaching and mentoring of cricketers had become a far more demanding and enveloping job than it had been during his time as a player.
"My role as coach with the Australian and Western Australian teams has obviously required a commitment that has embraced one-on-one coaching, computer analysis of players' actions and performance and remote coaching and support," he said. "Coaching and mentoring in the modern day is far more demanding than when I played, and this has been a substantial adjustment in resources and commitment for Cricket Australia and the coaches that are involved in the game.
"I am disappointed that Cricket Australia has chosen to debate in the public arena the value of the services I have provided to Australian cricket, along with what should have been a sensible discussion about nominal reward for ongoing performance. My career and my support role in the recent Ashes success speak for themselves and I remain ready, willing and able to continue Australia's resurgence in the cricketing world."
Lillee remains in touch with the bowlers he has mentored, but reiterated his earlier words in a radio interview during the South Africa Test tour that he felt compelled to take a stand over his pay. "I remain involved with and supportive of my group of bowlers, but as a working Australian, need to draw the line at some stage regarding what is fair and not fair," he said.
"I have been privileged in my career to be mentored by some of the best coaches and players of cricket in the game and it has been my pleasure to pass on and embellish the knowledge that I have gained. Coaching at this level is not about an hourly rate or time in the office -- it's a reflection of the experience and knowledge gained over many years and an ability to communicate skills and a trade craft that produces results. The Australian bowling performance during the Ashes shows those results.
"The work I have undertaken with Australia's fast bowlers has been very rewarding personally and feedback from those involved intimated that the feeling was mutual. At the end of the day the game is about the players and the memorable performances that bring us back each summer, regardless of the temporary administrators and politics of the sport.''
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig