World Cup 2015 February 21, 2015

Lehmann takes a pop at McCullum

Darren Lehmann said Brendon McCullum might not find attacking so easy against Australia's fast bowlers © Getty Images

Australia's coach Darren Lehmann has fired a shot across the bows of the New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, while at the same time admitting Brisbane's rain will force significant changes to the team's preparation for a pivotal World Cup encounter between the co-hosts in Auckland.

With the exception of a washed out Champions Trophy encounter in 2013, Australia and New Zealand have not met in an ODI since the 2011 World Cup, leaving plenty of water to pass under the bridge since, including McCullum's emergence as one of the world's most feared top-order aggressors and the Kiwis' evolution into a major threat.

Having observed McCullum's destruction of England in Wellington, Lehmann challenged the former wicketkeeper to repeat the trick against Australia's higher velocity attack at Eden Park. He noted the difference between the speeds of Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and James Anderson and those of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

"He does hit them a long way, doesn't he?" Lehmann told Adelaide radio station 5AA on Friday night. "He took the game on and he certainly does that, he plays a high-risk game, but there's a bit of a difference between 135kph and 145 to 150kph coming at him. It'll be a great challenge for both sides, he's going to certainly come at us and we've got some plans for him.

"It's going to be exciting - New Zealand have been very impressive. It's going to be interesting to see how they play against us, I'm sure they'll be really aggressive, so it's going to be a cracker game."

Brisbane was exposed to the fringes of tropical cyclone Marcia, meaning there never really seemed to be a possibility of a match against Bangladesh emerging from the murk. This means that by the time Michael Clarke walks out to toss the coin against McCullum in Auckland, the Australians will have gone two weeks between games. Even before knowing the washout would transpire, Lehmann flagged the likelihood of some kind of practice match to try to compensate.

"We'll probably have to," he said. "We'll get to New Zealand on Sunday regardless of what happens here, then try to replicate something like match conditions early in the week, which will give us an extra couple of sessions leading into a game.

"Obviously they're playing really well, blew England away and they're a pretty good side. We're good to go for the [Brisbane] game, but if it rains again tomorrow and then we get to New Zealand it is a few days without outdoor competitive cricket, so we'll have to change it around."

Lehmann also expressed some interest in the way England's Cup campaign appears to have unravelled, and he reached a familiar conclusion as to the reasons why. Namely, Lehmann felt that the team of Eoin Morgan and Peter Moores looked too scared of making mistakes rather than showing initiative.

"England looked like they were lacking a bit of confidence, they won the toss and really didn't try to take the game on," Lehmann said of the Wellington result.

"I don't think they are that bad. I just think they're not backing themselves or having any confidence in themselves to play the game, and that can happen in any format of any sport. Sometimes you've just got to have a crack and take the game on and I probably think they're not doing that."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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