Pay dispute 'elephant in the room,' says Lehmann
IT lingered like a dark shadow, following the Australian team from London to Birmingham, then back again.
The bitter pay dispute, being fought in conference rooms back home, and inching closer to something that may resemble a tentative solution apparently, was mentioned every time an Aussie player turned up to talk.
Around training too, and the team hotel, and walks down the street for coffee.
Aussie coach Darren Lehmann called it the "elephant in the room" as his side played out a tournament they only seemed truly interested in on match days.
And too many of those were spent in the change rooms, watching on as the English summer rained on their parade, giving more time for "MOU chat", that is talk of the Memorandum of Understanding.
Aussie vice-captain David Warner, who is in the best white ball form of his career but failed to light up the Champions Trophy in his three at bats, even suggested Cricket Australia wasn't helping the team's cause with videos portraying them as taking money from grassroots cricket.
"If CA wants us to win I don't think they would be releasing videos like that," he said.
Despite that obvious state of concern, with Warner and his national teammates to be out of contract by June 30 if no new pay deal is done, Lehmann said the ongoing impasse was not an excuse for the early tournament exit.
And he said he would be "pushing on" with preparations for a Test tour of Bangladesh in August, and the Ashes in September, despite the uncertain landscape giving him no certainty who he might be coaching in those games.
"That (MOU negotiations) is going on behind the scenes, and will probably come to the forefront now. We're finished so they'll get down to that and sort that out. But no excuses from us with talk of the MOU," Lehmann said.
"It's always there, it's the elephant in the room, it's always going to be talked about. But from a playing point of view, you are out there, surely you are not thinking about the MOU when you are batting or bowling.
"You have to push on as a coach you can't just stop. The players are back in to the state systems now, a couple are having some time off, but then will start getting ready for Bangladesh, that's all we can do.
"The rest will look after itself I am sure."
Aggression in talks has turned more conciliatory of late and plans are being worked on by both Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association to forge a path towards an outcome sooner rather than later.
There could even be an announcement this week on how that may work.
Australian captain Steve Smith said he would have "a few chats" with the key players in negotiations on his return home this week, having avoided weighing in to the debate like Warner for the duration of the tournament.
Despite the ongoing slanging match, Smith remained confident there would be a resolution before he next has to suit up for the tour of Bangladesh in August.
"I'm sure it will, yeah," he said.
"We're supporting the ACA (Australian Cricketers Association) and we're right behind them. We might have a few chats and stuff here and there now that this tournament's over. But, yeah, we're supportive of everything they're doing."