Mitchell Starc has said the Australian men's team has not changed its position on the current MoU standoff, and will continue to back the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) to represent the players in negotiations with Cricket Australia (CA).
The Australian team was briefed on the current situation by ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson in Birmingham on Sunday, ahead of their final warm-up match, against Pakistan, before the Champions Trophy. The tournament is the final competition the men's team will play before the current MoU runs out at the end of June, and negotiations are at a stalemate with CA refusing the ACA's request for independent mediation.
Instead, CA High Performance General Manager Pat Howard has, for the second time, sent direct emails to several senior Australian players, including Mitchell Starc, captain Steven Smith and David Warner, in an attempt to circumvent the players' union and deal directly with the players.
But Starc confirmed that, following the meeting with Nicholson, the players remain united in backing the ACA. "Our stance hasn't changed," Starc said. "Our full support is still behind the ACA to get the outcome that the players are after, it's all about getting a fair share, we're not asking for more.
"The men and the women are on the same page, we're sticking strong together and that was pretty much the conversation we had today."
Starc suggested Howard's efforts to deal directly with senior players would continue to be unsuccessful in the remaining weeks before the June 30 deadline. "They've got four weeks to go on the MoU," he said. "The players are leaving it all to the ACA from our side of things and it's up to Cricket Australia to sort that out with the ACA at the moment."
Starc and his team-mates must now attempt to put the dispute to one side as they concentrate on their Champions Trophy campaign, which begins with a highly anticipated match at Edgbaston against New Zealand, the team they defeated to win the 2015 World Cup.
For Starc, the final warm-up match marks his return to the side since suffering a stress fracture to his right foot during Australia's Test tour of India and gives him a chance to "blow the cobwebs out" and become reacquainted with English conditions before the tournament begins. "It has all been in the nets for me in the last few weeks," he said. "I've been over here for a week in the nets, being in Brisbane in the lead up to getting over to England, so coming off the foot injury I'm just looking forward to playing a game of cricket out in the middle again.
"There's only so much you can get out of nets sessions and centre-wicket sessions. It's all about match fitness for me and getting some time in the legs.
"I guess I know my role pretty comfortably in this set-up. It's about bowling with the new ball, trying to swing it - more than likely bowling at the death - and then a few overs in the middle, so just getting out there and performing my role again. Obviously it's a great chance to do that in a warm-up game, where there's a little bit less pressure. We still want to win these warm-up games, but come Friday it's when we hit crunch time."