Lehmann wants better T20 schedule for Australia
Australia coach Darren Lehmann has called for a more extensive programme of T20 matches ahead of the next World T20 to be hosted down under in 2020, highlighting a lack of matches in the format as a key reason for his side's failure to progress to the semi-finals.
While being generous in his praise for the wondrous innings played by Virat Kohli, Lehmann said Australia can perform better next time around through a more carefully planned T20 schedule. Australia played a solitary T20I in 2015, before a quick run of six games immediately before this event. He also pointed to the team's opening loss against New Zealand, when they faded badly chasing a middling total, as pivotal to their fortunes.
"If anything it was the eight runs against New Zealand that cost us. When we were 1 for 60 off about seven [2 for 51 off 6.4], we should have got those runs," Lehmann said. "You can have all the excuses under the sun. No Mitchell Starc, no Patrick Cummins, all that. But at the end of the day we weren't good enough and we've got to get better playing as a group. Scheduling is always the toughest thing for us, we know that.
"We've just got to make sure we've got enough games leading into a World Cup. It's a bit easier next time, because it's four years away so we've got plenty of time to schedule some more games, and the next one is at home. So wickets will be bouncing and they'll be nice and good wickets for everyone to play on so it'll be fine next time."
Lehmann defended the composition of the squad selected for the tournament, pointing to the success of Adam Zampa as a major positive but also highlighting some failures in the top order. David Warner failed to make an impact after being demoted from opening, while Usman Khawaja's undoubted class was not capitalised upon with a truly match-defining innings.
"He's calm, played better the higher he's gone, so that's a pleasing thing for us," Lehmann said of Zampa. "I know it was a big issue, [Cameron] Boyce or Zampa, but we got that one right. Nothing against Cameron, because he was very good for us in Sydney before we left. They're the tough calls you've got to make sometimes but that's a plus for us this tournament.
"[Zampa] is in our one-day team as well, that's a start. His four-day record has got to improve, he's the first to admit that. But the pleasing thing is when he's steps up he's played well for us. Pressure does strange things to people, full stop. He's handling himself really well, been very impressed with him.
"You would have liked see Warner to score more runs. He probably had a quiet tournament but that's understandable occasionally. You're there to make runs all the time but sometimes you struggle. I think Usman was fantastic. Would have liked him to go on with it if there's one criticism. [Shane] Watson floating up and then down was good. I think our bowling attack, we made the best of the conditions."
As for Kohli's brilliance, Lehmann said there was much to be learned from the way he orchestrates India's batting. "That was an unbelievable innings. That was the best T20 innings I've seen for a long time," he said. "I think everyone is probably in awe of that innings itself, especially on a wicket that was a little bit difficult. The way he went about it was exceptional.
"I thought we were ahead of the game at about 15 overs but you knew you had to get him out. They played really well. And you can get beaten by one bloke in this format sometimes, and we certainly did. He's always ahead of the game, isn't he? His record chasing is exceptional obviously.
"Having said that, if we maybe were a millimetre out with a yorker or a millimetre wide he carved us up. That's one of those innings you get beaten. I think whoever won would go a long way in the tournament. I think everyone thinks that around the world anyway. I can't see them losing, that's my personal opinion.
"It would have been nice to go through and have no subcontinent team in the World T20, but it wasn't to be."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig