Australia in India 2016-17 March 29, 2017

'Bradman-like' Smith is changing Australia - Lehmann

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'I'm really pleased with the effort and the attitude at trying to change the way we play here' - Darren Lehmann © Associated Press

Australia's coach Darren Lehmann has lauded Steven Smith as "Bradman-like," while confirming that the way the tourists pushed India to the brink of losing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has set a marker for how the team intends to play from here on.

The 2017 Australians were not the team of snarlers who wrested the Ashes back from England in 2013-14, but nor were they the uncertain group who stumbled in Sri Lanka and in the early weeks of the home season last year. With the help of Lehmann and his support staff, Smith's men were well prepared and studious, while for the most part offering the sort of example that Cricket Australia's game growers can be comfortable with.

Lehmann said Smith had been the exemplar of this, from his prolific batting feats to the way he has led the team and conducted himself across the tour. A public apology for letting the emotions of a white-knuckle series get the better of him at times, certainly made for a sharp contrast with his opposite number Virat Kohli.

"He's been brilliant. He's been unbelievable. He's been Bradman-like with the bat but all the stuff behind the scenes has been exceptional," Lehmann said of Smith. "Really pleased for him and what he's brought to the team as a leader. The way they've gone about it has been impressive.

"They're young, they've been up against it, the pitches have been as we would expect. There's a lot of learning in this group over this tour. They're all hurting and disappointed for the result but I'm really pleased with the effort and the attitude at trying to change the way we play here. He's led from the front, the captain. Three hundreds in four Test matches is pretty special."

Looking ahead, Lehmann was adamant that at 27-years-old, Smith was more than capable of surpassing the likes of Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor, not only as a batsman but also as a captain. "Yeah I think so. He's a cricket nuffie; loves the game," Lehmann said. "He's passionate about the game, loves the game, loves his players.

"He helps support staff out. Behind the scenes, he's into it every day, making sure everyone is okay. He's a different leader to Michael [Clarke], to Ricky, to Taylor, to Waugh. And he's working out his own identity as a captain. Everyone is proud of him. So pleased with where he is going. He'll just get better and better."

When Australia slumped to a fifth consecutive Test defeat in Hobart last November, the team performance manager Pat Howard indicated that Lehmann had to "reinvent" himself as a coach. It was a suggestion that Lehmann visibly bristled at, but five months on he agreed that he had changed his own methods in concert with Smith, as the pair forged a new identity for a young team that does not feature the old heads Lehmann first inherited.

'He helps support staff out. Behind the scenes, he's into it every day, making sure everyone is okay.' © AFP

"They have been excellent. There have been difficult conditions there is no doubt about it. They haven't whinged once, they've been just getting on with the game," Lehmann said. "They've copped a lot from Indian media and that's just the way it is over here. I've been pleased the way they have handled it.

"We have decided we are going a different way about the way we play. Obviously we're less aggressive than we have been in the past. And I'm pleased with the way they have gone about it. The young group will grow. They will get better.

"We weren't good enough in this series, there is no doubt about that. We missed big opportunities to win the series. But if they keep learning and keep growing and keep getting better, it is a group that can play a long time together. That's the pleasing thing."

"My son loves watching the Australian cricket team and I hope everyone's son does"

Asked to ponder where this team was in relation to the side led by Clarke into the second bracket of back-to-back Ashes series four years ago, Lehmann said Smith's men were building as a team, rather than looking to atone for a series of defeats to England. Australia had lost three Ashes series in a row up to that point.

"I don't think the group is at that stage. That group back then was right at that stage. I mean, they copped a lot for a few years so they wanted to give some back. This group is just playing a game of cricket," Lehmann said. "I have actually changed a bit in my ways as a coach. I've really enjoyed watching the way they go about it. So, for them, they have had to work out the way they want to play as a group and I think it has been brilliant.

"I think the other style was right for that group at the time but this group wants to play a different way and that's okay as well. I think you have got to change as a coach, change as a captain, and players."

"They know they are going to cop different decisions and different pitches and different conditions wherever they play, and they are just trying to get better. My son loves watching the Australian cricket team and I hope everyone's son does."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AussieNSW on April 4, 2017, 21:02 GMT

    More history and more blah blah blah from Harmomy111. Lets talk about this team, right here and right now. Most of the events you gibber on about included guys who are not even on this tour or have even retired! Lets give you the simple, and relevant, stats one more time. Since the Hobart hiccup we have removed a couple of non performing batsmen and replaced them with Renshaw and Handscomb. Both long term prospects and set to stay. Whilst we still fidget around with Uzzy Khawaja we look to have hopefully put at least the Mitch Marsh long term experiment behind us. We still search for a keeper but that won't be too far off. The stats you need to drum in are that this side has played 8 tests, it has won 5, lost 2 and drawn 1. The last three games were of course played in foreign and ordinary conditions that most had little or no experience in. The side has 2 batsmen and a fast bowler or two that would be selected in any other countries test team automatically. Give the history away pal.

  • cricketsubh on April 4, 2017, 10:54 GMT

    Harmony111@ Australia bowled out for 49 against south Africa and lose that test but in the 2 test Australia chased over 300 runs in the last innings against south Africa and level the series 1-1 not lose that series end of the day series score line matters Australia lose ashes but 3-2 not 5-0 current Australian side is very young they found two very good young batsman's handscomb and renshaw 2 thing not only Australia loseing away series every team at the moment loseing away from home 3 thing Australia beat newziland in newziland 2-0

  • Cricinfouser on April 3, 2017, 4:46 GMT

    if you take smith out of the team, its a weak team. He pulls things and inspire others, If Australia failed to pick skilled players like him, no one can stop Australia lose matches often even in home conditions..

  • cricfan27429407 on April 3, 2017, 2:13 GMT

    Deluded, overated in your eyes only, how does it feel 99.94% of people think your wrong. But please continue.

  • Harmony111 on April 2, 2017, 18:53 GMT

    @FalseOracle: I ask you again. If Aus get bowled out in 18 overs, on a wicket where the ball is swinging, for only 60 runs then what does it mean? It means Aus know how to tackle a swinging ball? Did you it was AWAY and so does not count? Ok, so tell me … If Aus get bowled out, in 33 overs on a wicket where the ball is seaming and swinging, for only 85 runs then what does it mean? It means Aus know how to tackle a seaming or a swinging ball? You can't even say it was AWAY as this happened in Hobart. Did you say it was not Mainland Aus & so does not count? Oh come on. You can't be serious there. But still…tell me...If Aus get bowled out for 76 in 31 overs in WACA then what? WACA is not AWAY, WACA is not out of Mainland Aus, WACA is very much within Aus, does it count? Did you say it was WI at its peak? Ok, so tell me, if Aus get bowled out for 83 in MCG by Ind? Ind were a weak team in 1981, weren't even WC winners then. DOES THIS COUNT? You got any more excuses left?

  • Harmony111 on April 2, 2017, 18:15 GMT

    @DR SIR LESLIE COLIN PATTERSON: I am still waiting for your proof. Where is the MATHEMATICAL PROOF for your assertion? Where is the proof? I am sure that you being a doctor know well that an assertion has to be backed by proof to be taken seriously.

  • Harmony111 on April 2, 2017, 18:06 GMT

    @FalseOracle: So you still claim Aus know how to bat when it Seams or Swings? Why then do they keep getting out for such low scores so often? Is 49 a.o. a proof of Aus ability to play seam? 60 a.o. means Aus are good at playing swing? And can you please be a bit more careful with your words? Words like born losers don't not go well with the dignity of this forum. It also shows you are losing your composure cos I keep showing stats to show Aus are hardly the special thing its fans hype it up to be. In fact they are sitting ducks the moment the wicket seams or swings or spins. To this all you do is somersault after somersault. Aus past can't mask their present plight. I've already told you when we talk of concepts like #1, Champion, Best then it pertains to the present times. You are desperately trying to sidestep this. Undeniable fact is ------ Aus have lost their most recent series vs Eng, SA, Ind. In each series Aus were blown away the moment a wicket had pace & bounce.

  • popcorn on April 2, 2017, 16:56 GMT

    Australia have awarded Test Captaincy very judiciously - and ALL have delivered. Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith. All these Captains have different styles of leadership,all these Captains should be awarded the Order of Australia.

  • reapwhatyouvesown on April 2, 2017, 14:48 GMT

    DR SLCP: I offer this suggestion; the bloke is trying to argue, the recorded and factually/statiscally based facts put forth by revered/noted world-wide PUBLISHED bodies, regarding cricket, as the WORLD knows it, historically. Whence deluded is publisheD ( fat chance- prove me wrong deluded!) I shall read on regarding his theories, and then pick them apart as I've already done so, in these pages. However, till that point,( which will never occur, as arguing against Bradman being #1 in regards to batsmen, is akin to trying to say that when dawn occurs, it's not the sun rising but the moon) he's got no base, no reference, no wind( other than what comes out his arse)! The bloke ain't worth a breath, nor time. I encourage him to take his points, error riddled as they are, to a publishing house and see how he goes. Till then, I , like the rest of the ENTIRE world, will follow what is factually obvious, and recorded as such. I'm still waiting for references on his statements. Won't happen...

  • Harmony111 on April 2, 2017, 13:44 GMT

    @FalseOracle: Trying to somehow come out of your warped, entangled logic? It is a fact Aus have the ignominy of being out of less than 99 the most no of times in history. Ind defeated Aus at WACA which is universally hailed as the fastest, bounciest wicket in the world. WI bowled out Aus for 76 at WACA. SA bowled Aus for 49 in Centurion when it seamed. Eng bowled Aus out for 60 when it swung. Ind bowled Aus for 93 when it spun. Clearly even after 140+ years Aus still have little idea what to do when facing Bounce or Seam or Swing or Spin. Stung by these humiliations CA told curators to make flat wickets, because Voges, Warner etc can score buckets of runs only when the wicket is flat. We all saw how Voges fell down from 98 to 60 in no time. This is the truth. It is bitter and unpalatable but this is the truth. If the CURRENT Aus Team is so good why it has a current losing record vs Eng, SA & Ind? Why can current Aus team win ONLY at home vs Eng, Ind, Pak, SL?

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