Lehmann rebukes Saker over bowlers
Australia coach Darren Lehmann has delivered David Saker a blunt lesson in states' rights, rebuking the new Victoria coach for his suggestion that the Australian selectors would be "mad" to choose James Pattinson for the Test team before Christmas.
Formerly the England bowling coach, Saker replaced the long-time Bushrangers mentor Greg Shipperd earlier this year, and the state's decision not to play Peter Siddle in the Matador Cup has disappointed Lehmann and other members of the team hierarchy. Saker's subsequent directives about Pattinson were not taken to kindly, either, even if state and national set-ups have similar views about the need for him to groove his new bowling action before returning.
"I think David Saker should concentrate on coaching Victoria, and leave us to pick the side for Australia," Lehmann said pointedly. "And if James Pattinson is in and ready to go we think highly of him. We won't rush him back if he's not right, he's got to be ready to play.
"Haven't seen him [Siddle] bowl. It would be good for him to be playing but we can't control what Victoria do, it would be nice to see him play because we've got a Test match coming up, so we'll just have to wait and see. That [one Sheffield Shield game] is probably all he's going to get, isn't it?"
The debate with Saker is of the sort once commonplace in Australian cricket, when the states habitually bickered with Cricket Australia over the handling of their players. However it has grown increasingly rare as the national governing body pursues a policy of unification and 'One Team' working together for the betterment of the national game.
All states save for South Australia were represented at Hurstville Oval on Tuesday as the team began a two-day training camp to keep one eye on the looming Test series against New Zealand in the midst of the domestic limited overs competition. Lehmann spoke frankly about two lessons to be learned from the winter's Ashes defeat - there will be no repeat of the four bowlers, six batsmen experiment at Trent Bridge, while the bowling attack will be better balanced to ensure the scoreboard is not allowed to leak damaging runs.
"No, we'll play with five bowlers. We made that mistake in England and we won't do that again," Lehmann said when asked about choosing six batsmen. "The biggest learning curve for us was the type of pitches they chopped and changed so you might have to chop and change your attack depending on the conditions. Ryan Harris [retirement] certainly hurt, no doubt about that, and we'd certainly like control.
"England was the first time our bowlers have leaked a lot of runs or gone at four an over. We certainly had the control at Lord's and the Oval, but the other three we went around the park and that's not been what we've been about over the last 18 months, we've kept it under three an over and in control of the game.
"That's been the interesting change for us with the group to make sure those blokes that are playing if they are attacking bowlers they've still got to be able to defend as well. At the end of the day we've got to pick the side to take 20 wickets. One thing about Australian cricket the last couple of years we've been able to take 20 wickets, but we need to get control back and go for less runs."
To that end, Lehmann and his fellow selectors Rod Marsh, Trevor Hohns and Mark Waugh will be monitoring the progress of Mitchell Johnson, who is set to resume bowling in the latter stages of the Matador Cup. Johnson and Josh Hazlewood were both kept out of the theoretical tour squad for Bangladesh in order to let them refresh and regain strength, and Lehmann said he wanted to see Johnson bowling fast.
"He looks fit and strong, that's what we did it for, and he's got all his niggles out of the way," Lehmann said. "I was looking forward to seeing him bowl right now, but he looks like he's fresh and ready to go. I think that's when he bowls his best - he's running in, he's strong, he's fit.
"Towards the back end [of the Ashes] he got a bit tired, he played a lot of cricket, the same with Josh and Mitchell Starc, they got tired. This break's been good for them, some one day cricket's not bad because it's 10 overs and you can have a look at how they're going. Mitchell Johnson will play this week for WA I would think. He's getting back to where we need him to be, and we should have a fully fit squad to pick from."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig