Adam Gilchrist
Former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman

What Lehmann brings to the table

He has a relaxed and old-fashioned approach, but don't be fooled into thinking he won't hold players accountable for their performances

Adam Gilchrist

July 6, 2013

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson acknowledges his hundred before lunch, Worcestershire v Australians, Tour Match, New Road, 1st day, July 2, 2013
By announcing that Australia will open with Watson and Rogers, Lehmann has got rid of the uncertainty in the batting order © PA Photos

It's amazing the difference a little momentum can make. Two weeks ago, it didn't look like this Ashes tour was going to be a positive experience for Australia. But after strong performances with bat and ball against Somerset and Worcestershire, there is a much more buoyant feeling about their chances in the Ashes series. There's always a honeymoon period when a new coach comes in, but I think Darren Lehmann has the ability to extend that period to become the norm.

As an outside observer it seems there were a lot of contributing factors that led to the Australian team not functioning as well as it should have, and not for a moment would I say Mickey Arthur was solely to blame for that. But something wasn't working and Cricket Australia deserves credit for addressing that before the series rather than during or after it. Darren's appointment is timely. It looks like a perfect scenario for someone of his character to come in and bring that team together.

I have had the good fortune of working closely with Darren and seeing him in his coaching capacity. His first official coaching appointment was at Deccan Chargers in the IPL when I was captain, and we worked closely for a few years, and most recently this year with Kings XI Punjab.

Darren creates a relaxed environment and de-stresses the players. He leads players back to the pure reasons why they play the game: enjoyment, camaraderie and enjoying each other's success.

It seems as though there are a huge amount of requests put on players outside of just playing cricket these days, especially around sports science and the way their health is monitored. Darren has the image of being the old-fashioned, beer-drinking type, but he is a smart enough guy with a wonderful cricket brain that he embraces the new and blends it in with some of those old-fashioned values. You can't just create a team environment like magic, but his approach makes it evolve naturally.

I'll always remember his first day on the job as Chargers' coach in 2009. We had an intra-squad practice game and afterwards the fitness guru asked everyone to jump in the ice bath, which was second nature to the Australians in the group but not for some of the other players. But any hesitancy they had disappeared when a naked Darren Lehmann came steaming through the change rooms and did the biggest bomb you could imagine into the ice bath, saying, "One in, all in!" It wasn't a pretty sight but it brought a lot of laughter and broke down the barriers. It also showed his commitment; he doesn't ask anything of the players that he wouldn't do himself.

He creates that sense of fun and gives the players a long leash, but with that comes accountability. If you don't adhere to the team's ethos you'll know about it in no uncertain terms. And you may not get a second chance. I'm yet to see any evidence of players taking advantage of his relaxed approach. Already we're seeing positive signs from the Australian camp under Darren. Not only has he relieved Michael Clarke of some of his burdens, he has given the players clear direction and let them know where they stand and what he expects of them.

I love the way Boof has announced ten days before the first Test that Chris Rogers and Shane Watson will open. It means there is no uncertainty. I think a lot of Australia's batting trouble started when Simon Katich was relieved of his position and Watson was flicked down the order to try to get more out of him as an all-round cricketer. Now Watson will be judged purely on his results as an opener, and it's a bonus if they get some overs out of him as a bowler. His 109 against Worcestershire was a great start.

In fact, most of the batsmen have scored valuable runs in the tour games, which would make it difficult for the selectors to pick David Warner. I had him pencilled in at No. 6 long before his suspension for the altercation with Joe Root. I just thought in this series Warner would be better served down the order. But now he hasn't played the two warm-up games, what sort of message would it send to the other batsmen who have scored runs if Warner was picked?

I expect Clarke will bat at No. 4 and I would have Steven Smith at No. 5. Whether Phillip Hughes slots in at No. 3 or No. 6, I'm not sure. Brad Haddin at No. 7 should provide a very solid foundation at the base of that batting order, and he'll launch the bottom five really well. I think Haddin was a terrific selection for this tour for everything he brings on and off the field. He deserves his spot, although Matthew Wade hasn't done anything particularly wrong.

The first one or two years for a wicketkeeper are tough. You worry about every mistake and hope that you're not judged purely on one catch or one stumping. Fortunately I was in a team environment that was successful and individually our little errors weren't really magnified. Everything has been magnified over the past couple of years, which has made it hard for Wade. But I still see a solid future for him in international cricket.

The pace-bowling attacks for Australia and England might almost cancel each other out, because both are strong groups. Graeme Swann will also be very dangerous to Australia's left-handers if any of the pitches are dry, as some were during the Champions Trophy. But I think there's some uncertainty around the England batting line-up and Australia have the chance to run with their momentum from these warm-up games.

I'm not going to predict a series result, but this first Test is a good opportunity for Australia to shake things up a bit.

Adam Gilchrist was speaking to Brydon Coverdale

Adam Gilchrist played 96 Tests for Australia as a wicketkeeper-batsman and was part of three winning Ashes campaigns

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Posted by Tvaranitra on (July 8, 2013, 23:02 GMT)

Great article Gilly and you deserve respect from all the cricketing nations and you are one of the greatest to play the game of cricket. From my vantage point both teams are evenly poised except England's batting looks stronger than Australia at the moment, but I see a lot of positive momentum in the Australian team and that was clearly shown in the warm up games. Bringing in Boof was a master stroke and removing Clarke from the selection panel was another good thing happened to Australian cricket. Same thing happened to India when Greg Chappel was at the helm, he's a great cricketer and one of the best cricketing brains, no doubts about that, but the team suffered a lot during his tenure and bringing in Gary was a master stroke for India and things started to change and results proven. I am all eager to see an exciting contest between these two countries.

Posted by Coupes on (July 8, 2013, 3:49 GMT)

I must say how refreshing it is to hear some people saying positive things about the Australian Cricket Team, and that all comes from the decision to move Micky Arthur on. I am of the belief that when it comes to Aussie Teams be it Cricket, Rugby etc, which should be sourcing Australian Coaches. I am not critical of overseas coaches, I just think it is an understanding of the Australia sportspersons mind. And saying that I am meaning when Australia are at the top or near the top of that sport. I would like people to remember one thing, when Australia were at the top in Cricket, new batsmen would come in at No. 6 no matter whether they were opener or not in domestic cricket, Border, S.Waugh, Blewett, Katich, Lehmann etc. Started at no 6 then moved to their rightful place in the order after getting used to it. So get the batting line-up settled, and start to introduce players such as Nick Maddinson, & Moises Enriquez did nothing wrong in India in such a poor environment.

Posted by ozwin on (July 7, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

@swaroop: just think what australia would have been without clarke in past 2 years.. surely worse. and it was watson who decided to bowl again after recent failures with bat.. and clarke never made negative comments about his teammates. and watson is never a captain material.. if you believe the rumours about clarkes off field leadership then there were also news that watson was involved in warner bar incident.. how can he be a good leader then??

Posted by   on (July 7, 2013, 0:32 GMT)

This is very positive article for Australian cricket from excellent cricketer but its very tough to beat england in england unless England players are in very complacent. England has had a lot more success in recent past Ashes series so this could be Australian time. In paper England is very strong team but cricket is funny game we never know what will happen.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 19:18 GMT)

everybody loves gilly. australia will be in trouble till clarke remains as a captain. 3 years earlier, i stopped watching australian cricket n told my friends "australia will go down further n further". clarke is not a leader. infact he's opposite of a leader. a leader is one who gives full support to his players n brings out the best in them. clarke is trying to destroy watson career from 3 years by displacing him to places where he cant perform n injuring him by making him bowl many overs which his body cant handle. watson is a batting destroyer.. his occasional bowling is just an plus.he's not a full time bowler.clarke always made -ve comments on his players in almost all press conferences."steve waugh or ricky or gilly never made a -ve statement on his players" australia will never go to top till clarke remains as captain n moreover he's destroying worlds 2nd most powerful batsmen shane behind gayle. only when watson captains australia,they'll rise up.

Posted by chitti_cricket on (July 6, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

Gilly, Australia your time was invincible team and very successful. There is nothing that succeeds than success. In my openion the Ausie teams you played were never overly dependent on coachs, as they never do any on field duties. All you had in your team was great players with great competitiveness in them. That brought success to old Ausie teams. Even a mediacore coach would have lead those bunch of great players you had to world beating side and that is whay happened. But now things changed mate, no more Australia has batsmen like you, Waughs, Heydan, Langer, Martin etc and bowlers like Glen, Gillepse and most notably Wanre. That said even today's team has greate players in Ausie team like Watson, Clarke and patinson, Starc, Siddle etc, but you folks are very badly missing one top class spinner and you have not focused there. I very strongly believe we should give a chance to Warne like players to develope best class spinners and wold would again watch Ausie team with raw awe.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (July 6, 2013, 16:59 GMT)

I can't talk highly enough of boof, you can see the team is coming together as one already. And boof is letting folks bat where they are best, Watson is opening, Khawaja is our best 3 and top scored in the first warm up and should play there in the first test, Hughes has slotted in well at 5 and Clarke moves up to 4, all great moves by boof. And he is bringing the team together.

Posted by hycIass on (July 6, 2013, 16:51 GMT)

@barnsey444 i suggest you read fleming_mitch's comments. Hughes has been exposed badly before agianst swing bowling, its best to keep him away from that where he will face it at 3. The innings you suggest that he did at 21 was very good but it was before the bowlers worked him out. Best to have either Khawaja or Warner at 3, i am suggesting Khawaja as he has done it succcessfully for his shield side and is one of our better players of swing bowling. Hughes at 5 will do well with Clarke at 4. Both Khawaja and Hughes are the future of our batting, just need to have them batting at their best spots. Long term i see Khawaja as our 3 and Hughes as our opener.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (July 6, 2013, 16:41 GMT)

Hughes at 3, he will fill that role long-term. He has the ability to make regular centuries and can flay the best bowlers on his day. Just watch how he smashed Steyn, Morkel and Kallis as a 21 year old before "coaches" got to him. Boof will encourage that natural flair and Hughes will flourish under him.

Posted by TheMightyPirates on (July 6, 2013, 14:30 GMT)

Great that the retired legends continue to keep giving to the game. Gilly has been announced as one of the main commentators under Channel 10 for this years Big Bash League in Australia along with Ricky Ponting. Their insight is invaluable and its great for all fans to be able to see how these great players think and what their stance on certain issues are. The way forward is looking good with players such as Ponting, Gilchrist, Lehmann, Langer etc. staying involved in various roles. It will ensure the greatness of the past isn't lost and these values, talents and ethics remain an integral part of the Australian cricket setup.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (July 6, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

Fantastic article by Gilly, one of my favorites. CA has made a few blunders recently but they got the appointment of boof right. It will be interesting to see what influence, if any, boff has on selection, as coach. Inverarity appears to have been somewhat of a back seat, being on tour but not officially involved in selection, unless Lehmann and Marsh can't agree. Hopefully Lehmann's 'pick the best cricketers on performance' edict becomes the selection norm, as it always should be and i think he will. Already the moves he has made by putting Watson and Rogers as opener, putting Khawaja at 3 for the warm up game and Clarke up to 4. Smith or Warner fight it out for 6. And unlike Arthur who gave Cowan a free seat for each game boof clearly states that cowan's inability to push on is not helping his cause. All the fans ask is to pick on form and once a player has had their chacnes that they move on. For the first test i think boof will go with Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Hughes, Warn

Posted by ravi_hari on (July 6, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

Straight from the heart. Well written Gilly. Having worked with Lehman as coach, I think Gilly is the best to tell us about him. We all remember how Gilly and Darren lifted DC from the bottom of the table to be the winners in IPL. Even this year, their presence lifted KXIP well and some of their wins have been fantastic. Darren can mould this young Aussie team into a winner. He just needs some time and complete commitment from the players. The results have just started showing and hopefully will continue right through the Ashes. Gilly was honest about the honeymoon comment. Every team experiences this and I am sure Lehman is aware of it. However, the onus is on the guys in the middle. They need to show how much Darren is worth. If they atleast level the series, whatever be the score line, it would be a great achievement. Huge task for Darren but I am sure he is enjoying it and is determined to make things happen for Australian cricket. All the best Darren and thanks Gilly.

Posted by Mary_786 on (July 6, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

I can't talk highly enough of boof, you can see the team is coming together as one already. And boof is letting folks bat where they are best, Watson is opening, Khawaja is our best 3 and top scored in the first warm up and should play there in the first test, Hughes has slotted in well at 5 and Clarke moves up to 4, all great moves by boof.

Posted by Amith_S on (July 6, 2013, 13:31 GMT)

Completely agree, assigning boof as coach was a great move by CA, and already you can see improvements with guys such as Watson, Khawaja, Bird which is fantastic to see. Watch Watso and Khawaja dominate for us in this series.

Posted by VVSR92 on (July 6, 2013, 12:56 GMT)

well said gilly! apart form team culture and good bowling attack the major worry would be who would od the scoring apart from watson & clarke the batting line up needs to punch above its weight else it would be high time selectors should look beyond likes of warner,hughes,cowan,haddin for intl test cricket

Posted by JaDeD_INDIAN on (July 6, 2013, 8:57 GMT)

In awe after reading such a humble article. Well i wasn't born when the WI were in their prime but i grew up watching the mighty Aussies and how every nation including mine took them so seriously for every series. I hope Ricky ,Slater , Hayden take up live cricket jobs too.

Posted by Clyde on (July 6, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

Cricinfo has done well to get this article from Gilchrist. I trust he will not take up the 'clattering' of the more pulpy scribes.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 8:19 GMT)

There's just one thing I can't figure out here, Gilly says that certainty in your role is a good thing and that it's terrific for Watto and Rogers to have it... But what of the rest of the batting? We don't even know where Clarke will be batting and he is the captain! I hope they have it all worked out inside the sheds.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (July 6, 2013, 8:14 GMT)

excellent column from gilly. there was no beating around the bush here. but is he a permanent appointment or was this a guest column?

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (July 6, 2013, 7:55 GMT)

Well ,just a fantasy but just need to comment .Imagine Gilly made an announcement that he will come back to have 1 last crack @ Eng and lead the young Aussies in the Ashes , you'd bet the Eng will pull out the White flag and concede a series W/Wash before even 1 ball is bowled !! Then it is easy for young Aussies to roll over the Eng team just turning up ,I'd guess .Such is the Aura of the legend ,the GOAT of his very difficult trade - Wk/ Bat ,Gilly as the world knows him !! The scars that he dealt all his opponents in his day will remain long and the fear in bowlers a long lasting bad dream . Eng ,off course are no exception ,are they ?, being 1 of Gilly's most fave. 'victims' .

Posted by vj_gooner on (July 6, 2013, 7:45 GMT)

Woof Woof! Hopes are getting higher & higher! I don't know why but with every article I have read after Lehmann's appointment has given me a lot of necessary warmth! I believe that the team won't let us fans down!

Come on Aussies!!!

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (July 6, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

English bowling is as toothless and as bland as any in int. cricket a.t.m and well short international 'class'.Compare with supremely talented young tearaways that Aus possess , greatest young pace talent to emerge in the world in last 5 years,will soon to take over as no.1 paceman from Steyn in Pattinson , it is no wonder Aus has the best pace attack in the world. Eng's '80 mph' medium pace bowling doesn't compare at all with their opponents' .Seeing Eng's threadbare bowling made to chase leather in the 2 recent series in NZ and Eng by lowly N Zealand , Eng fans can have no cause for optimism and the Aussies will cherish . Remember P Fulton ??

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

@debatable. Your views on Cowan certainly are...

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (July 6, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

Welcome Gilly; we love you.

Posted by ozwriter on (July 6, 2013, 6:04 GMT)

great thoughts by adam gilchrist. curious why he thought steve smith should be in. he was a last minute 'extra' addition to the squad to cover for an injured clarke. surely you need to jump the hoops and wait the time before you get siphoned into the starting line up. i can think of a few better players that have waited (rogers, khawaja)

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (July 6, 2013, 4:59 GMT)

I agree that Steve Smith should be a certainty to play and I too have him at number 5. I think we are seriously under-rating James Faulkner if we are not putting him in the first test though, as he is in out of this world form.

Posted by sudhir98 on (July 6, 2013, 4:49 GMT)

Few things here, boof says Watson/Rogers are opening and Clarke says as a captain he has not decided that 100%. Clarke's back says he can't play all the games. Clarke says his buddy Warner doesn't need any match practice before playing 1 st test while everyone else who got the chance scored runs in the practice games. It is not just Mickey Arthur, it is the combination of Clarke and Arthur that was stinking the place up. Clarke needs to go as well and concentrate on staying fit. Bailey or haddin should be interim captain. Boof needs all the help he can get to turn this train wreck around.

Posted by ragzus on (July 6, 2013, 4:48 GMT)

yeeeah, gilly is back.

Good article. I always thought Lehmann was somebody who didn't care for practice and such. I think England has an edge as their batting is a settled line up and bowling is more experienced than Australia's. Swann will definitely be a big factor.

Looking forward to the ashes.

Posted by debatable on (July 6, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

Poor old Cowan, seems like the ex-Aussie players don't even like to mention him. Too intelligent for the team environment perhaps. He's a far better bet at 3 than Hughes or Smith: not as talented, but more reliable and sells his wicket dearer.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 4:08 GMT)

A wonderful player back then, now started a new leaf as columnist. I am blessed to witness his prime and to read/relive his experience. Hope he will be writing as sparkling as he did with the bat and gloves. Good times ahead for people like me.

Posted by Hammond on (July 6, 2013, 4:02 GMT)

Adam, I really respect your up front commentary, like I respected your attitude in everything you did when you played for Australia. I really wish that you had been made captain back in 2004, I might be still barracking for the baggy green if you had. I agree that the bowling sides are even (apart from spin) and if the Australian batting gets a boost in confidence from Boofs appointment then they could be dangerous. But I disagree that there is any uncertainty in the England batting lineup, the ashes is ultimate for an England batsman, and by pure design all their cards are coming together...

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 4:00 GMT)

Best of luck, Australia. But its a little amusing to see all the articles about how great Lehman is going to be with the team and how the uncertainty has changed into a good unit that will be competitive. Where is Clarke in all this? He is still captain, as he was earlier and it wasn't just the coach who was responsible for the earlier results. I don't think just the coach can turn it around for a team even now. Less divisions, hopefully, but only if Clarke is good with Lehman taking the driving seat in all this.

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