The Ashes 2013-14 November 26, 2013

Lehmann rejects sledging summit


Australia's coach Darren Lehmann has rejected suggestions of talks with England to set boundaries for acceptable sledging during the Ashes series. His comments arrived the day after his counterpart Andy Flower said he would seriously consider a meeting in the aftermath of a heated Brisbane Test and Jonathan Trott's withdrawal from the tour.

While insisting it had nothing to do with Trott's departure due to a stress-related illness, England were unhappy about Australian batsman David Warner's public description of Trott's dismissals as "pretty weak".

Flower stressed the importance of "playing the game of cricket on the pitch" at the same time he expressed hope that Trott's exit would not become grist for the Ashes banter mill that chugged away incessantly at the Gabba.

"I'll have a think about it," Flower said at the press conference where Trott's departure was announced when asked if talks with Lehmann were necessary. "I think both sides must concentrate on playing the game of cricket on the pitch. In a competitive way but finding the right balance.

"I don't think Trott should be raised on the pitch. We're there to play cricket. A balance has got to be found on the pitch between competitiveness and not overstepping the line."

But Lehmann was not prepared to entertain thoughts of a meeting, saying that while he wished Trott well in his recovery, Flower's team had offered plenty to say to his players in Brisbane and also during the earlier Ashes encounter in England. Australia's players feel their aggressive attitude in the first Test had contributed to their victory and Lehmann seemed in no mood to dilute it.

"From my point of view, Andy looks after his side and I look after my side, that's what you do in the game of cricket. I played cricket with Andy at South Australia, I talk to him all the time, but at the end of the day, he's in control of the England cricket team and we've got to try and get the Ashes back,'' Lehmann said on the Adelaide radio station 5AA. "Trott has gone home and we hope he gets well soon. We do care about that but we're still going to play really hard cricket."

Warner avoided a sanction by both the ICC and Cricket Australia for his comments but has been counselled about his words by Lehmann and team management. He withdrew from a scheduled radio commitment in Sydney on Tuesday and his media appearances are expected to be minimal for the rest of the series.

The tourists were far less perturbed about Michael Clarke's threatening on-field words to conclude a confrontation between James Anderson and George Bailey in the final minutes of the first Test, even though their inadvertent broadcast by Channel Nine drew an ICC fine for Australia's captain.

"I was happy that 'Bails' gave him a bit back, that's part and parcel of the game. They're all grown men out there, they will work it out,'' Lehmann said. "I just know we copped a lot in England and we didn't shy away from that. That's what happens when you go away, so I don't see what the difference is from England to here. We're on the other end of it, that's just the way it goes. Both teams play hard and as long as it stays on the field I'm happy with that."

James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, has meanwhile offered his own message of support to Trott. "All the staff, management and players at Cricket Australia wish Jonathan Trott well," he said. "We hope to see him fit and healthy and back on the cricket field soon."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Fayyaz on November 29, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    Sledging or no sledging. England will bounce back. They are tough cricketers. A little lesser than this series but there was great amount of pressure on england when the lost the first test against India in their last visit. But they ended up winning the test series. On paper they are a better batting side and experienced bowling unit.

  • Will on November 29, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    Would you expect anything else from the coach? This team is being built in his image...not a BRAND of cricket I am interested in watching.

  • Tony on November 28, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    Well ok, I dont think anyone hesitates to call indians fast track bullies or minnows in pacy tracks. That doesnt mean playing with the minds of indians. I am sorry for trott, but the opposition got every right to say that he feared even if it is not that way. They are right in trying to intimidate him on and off the pitch. You might say to bhuvi kumar that he bowls quick spinners, and if it hurts him in a way that it shows in his bowling, then that is good for you. Whats wrong with that? The only way trott could have continued is to continue to play and score a half century in the next game to silence the critics. Not time off the game.

  • Richard on November 28, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    @coyknobby:-The Windies bowled a lot more short stuff than Johnson in their day, and it's not Bodyline without a leg side umbrella field, the reason being that no more than two behind square on the leg side allows batsmen who are good enough to score freely. That the English were not good enough to do so does not perforce make it Bodyline, any more so than the delivery from Bob Willis that broke Rick McCosker's jaw in the Centenary Test. Neither qualifies as such.

  • Ravi on November 28, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    Winning "Ashes" should not be a result of "burning bridges".

  • Peter on November 27, 2013, 23:10 GMT

    @jmcilhinney. In answer to your question, Anderson complained to the umpires, who weren't really in a giant rush to respond given his history.

  • Dummy4 on November 27, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    It's a big boys game, if sledging a batsman out is an effective tactic then it should be employed, just as you'd exploit technical weaknesses in batsman's game. Playing the game at the highest level requires the complete package, mental and physical strength, so players need to be able to withstand the vigorous attacks in both of these realms. All the sledging in the world is irrelevant if you can't back it up with good cricket, which is exactly what the Aussies are doing right now, so England need to fight back with their own performances if they are to render the Australian verbal assaults impotent, rather than having silly talks about something that's part of the game as much as bouncers or aggression.

  • Doog on November 27, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    @coyknobby I fail to see how this was anything like bodyline. If you look at the groupings of the balls bowled, it was largely (a lot more than 60%) around the stumps. It's just that the shorter balls were getting a lot of the wickets and highlights time, but that's not surprising. The only "demon" in this pitch was pace and bounce... The ICC either need to ban all sledging and fine everyone who does it or not fine anyone. Why don't they concentrate on things that actually affect the game, like over rates, ridiculous drinks breaks and tying your shoes laces entirely to waste time.

  • Dummy4 on November 27, 2013, 12:50 GMT

    @Greatest Game, have you forgotten that Lara also scored a 4th inning century against warne

  • John on November 27, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    @Chris_P on (November 27, 2013, 8:59 GMT), where exactly has Anderson complained about anything? Anderson hasn't said a word about what Clarke said to him. This has become a big issue for two reasons: Clarke was caught on the stump mic and Trott has bee revealed to have been suffering from anxiety or depression or the like and has had to quit the tour. Despite what you and others seem to want to believe, England haven't complained at all about what Clarke said. Any issues that England have had are related to comments made about Trott specifically and then only because he has a specific illness. If Trott was well but just out of form then we wouldn't have heard a word from England at all. Any whinging is coming from fans, not the team.

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