The Ashes 2013-14 January 5, 2014

Lehmann removed anxiety - Haddin

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Australia's vice-captain Brad Haddin has credited coach Darren Lehmann with eliminating anxiety from the change room and allowing captain Michael Clarke to focus his attention on the on-field battle that led to Australia's Ashes clean sweep. Haddin, who also quashed retirement rumours, said all the "nervous energy" had disappeared from within the squad in the lead-up to this series, and this was a key factor in the triumph.

Prior to the first Test at the Gabba, Haddin said the previous coach Mickey Arthur had been "very, very insecure" in the role, which he believed had contributed to a poor atmosphere in the camp. After the 5-0 success was secured in Sydney, Haddin said the turnaround from the 3-0 defeat in England, when Lehmann had only just taken over on the eve of the series, had been in part down to the difference in feeling in the change rooms.

"I think Michael's always been an outstanding tactician," Haddin said. "He reads the game as well as anyone you can play with. I think what Darren and his staff have done is take the anxiety out of the change room. And all the nervous energy. We can just get on and do our job and Michael can do his without having to worry about anything else.

"I think our preparation was spot on. There was no anxiety leading in to the first Test. Everyone was relaxed and knew exactly where they stood. We knew what our team was a long way out, going in to this campaign, so we could prepare to play Test cricket, not look over our shoulders and worry about what was going on. We could prepare for this series and give it the respect it deserved. It was a massive test for us, that first Test match."

Haddin has epitomised the aggressive style of play the Australians have favoured in this series, his counterattacking with the bat rescuing the team from trouble in all five first innings. Attack has also been the key for the bowlers, with Mitchell Johnson's pace and accuracy making life uncomfortable for England's batsmen, while Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle never gave an inch.

"We've played the brand of cricket that Australians expect and that we expect as a group," Haddin said. "I think that's been pretty evident watching from the sideline. I've been ultra impressed with the way our fast bowlers have gone about it. There have been no places to hide. Once they've been five down it's been uncomfortable.

"And at times [it would have been] outright scary, trying to stand in front of these guys takes a lot of courage. From that point of view I'm happy with where it's all at. We're playing the Australian brand of cricket now. Darren and all his staff can take a lot of credit for that. We're getting back to enjoying our cricket and enjoying being Australians and playing our way."

Johnson was presented with the Compton-Miller Medal as Player of the Series but Haddin must have been strongly considered, given his outstanding work with bat and gloves throughout the campaign. In future it may appear surprising that Haddin did not even earn a Man of the Match award in any of the five Tests, but his contribution to the 5-0 result was incalculable.

It was all the more remarkable given that Haddin was not considered the first-choice wicketkeeper less than a year ago, when Matthew Wade was viewed as the long-term option behind the stumps. However, Haddin's return as vice-captain for the Ashes in England proved a shrewd move by the selectors - who included Arthur at the time - and he has shown that age is irrelevant to what a player can offer the team.

A few days ago, rumours began to circulate at the SCG that Haddin would bow out after the Sydney Test, content to end on the high of a 5-0 Ashes victory and spend more time with his family, including his daughter Mia, who is in remission from cancer. But Haddin said he had no retirement plans and still intended to play on until the 2015 World Cup, although he stopped short of saying he wanted to play in the next Ashes series in England later that year.

"I'm very clear where I want to go," he said. "I've said all along that I'd like to play along to the World Cup. From a cricket point of view I probably haven't played as much cricket as guys my age. A lot of guys my age would've played 250 first-class games. I'm enjoying it at the moment. As long as I'm still challenging myself and things are going in the right direction at home I'll play as long as I'm enjoying it and contributing to this team being the team we want to be.

"I'm 36, I can't hide behind the fact that that's my age. But from a cricket point of view I also started a lot later at Test cricket than most ... And I've had some time away from the game, so from that point of view I feel in a good place about my cricket. I'm enjoying being part of this team and what we're trying to create moving forward."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SteveSinatra on January 7, 2014, 0:11 GMT

    Regarding the Australian batting selections for the upcoming tour to South Africa - Bailey has to go. Bring back Phil Hughes who has been the form batsman in the domestic season and has previously done well as an opener in South Africa. Put Rogers in at No.3 to bolster the batting. put Watson down to 5 and Steve Smith down to 6 to bat with Brad Haddin. And for goodness sake Michael Clarke give Steve Smith a decent bowl as a leg spinner - he could be a match winner over there.

  • Matt.au on January 7, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    Thomas Cherian: I totally agree with what you said. Still, Buchanans' record as Aussie coach remains and it's unfair to bad mouth him post retirement.

    Warne isn't a fan of coaches. In fact he said,"aren't they the things that take you to the ground and back to the hotel?" Well, close enough to that anyway.

    I think he tolerates someone like Lehmann because if there is going to be a coach let the coach have some flexability and understanding.

    Someone that can look you in the eye and say "Mate, I'll support you and give you a fair go and I'll be understanding of some failure". "Having said that, I will send you back to Shield cricket and bring someone else in that's in form, if and when required"

    Warner, Rodgers, Hughes, Clarke, Watson, Smith, Haddin - simple as that.

  • mzm149 on January 6, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    I am wondering how pathetic Indian team must be who lost to England on doctored spin friendly home pitches. We all know how bad players of spin bowling English are generally.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on January 6, 2014, 16:57 GMT

    @Diane The reason we want Watson at #6 are many. If Warner AND Rogers fail we don't want a guy in there who has only 2 options. Hit out and maybe make runs or maybe fail miserably, or try and hold the fort and definitely fail miserably. You want someone who can defend well, punish the bad ball, and rebuild the innings if required. He seems more vulnerable to the quicks than spin to me, so that makes #6 a better slot for him also, plus it further defines his role when he walks out as to whether he has freedom to launch an end of innings assault or tow the line for the remaining batsman who's gotten in.

    Not to mention simply that Watson at #6 would feel infinitely more comfortable than Bailey, who just isn't a test player. Even Watto's biggest hater will admit at least that.

    The only problem for Australia: We don't have a test #3 yet, except Clarke. Who is fine from #3-5. But you get the feeling the search will begin soon. Maybe we should make a Clarke clone without a bad back.

  • dummy4fb on January 6, 2014, 16:46 GMT

    Matt.au

    Buchanan had a team which was filled with world class players each and everyone of them. Buchanan we have seen what he has done post his role as the coach of aussies be it KKR or New Zealand who are finally doing better now that Pat is gone. I for one agree with Warne here about Buchanan and warne is a great reader of the game and a captain aussies missed. At the level these guys play a natural talented bunch like Warne and Mcgrath I dont see being inspired with Buchanan

  • Matt.au on January 6, 2014, 11:55 GMT

    Posted by AidanFX on (January 6, 2014, 3:49 GMT) I guess one thing that I find interesting is that Warne among others seems to be on the Leeman bandwagon. But it is Warne who refuses to give John Buchanan any credit for his time as coach of a successful team. Can any one explain to me who is more filled in with why this would be the case.

    I would think from reading various articles it relates to how each coach goes about it. Leheman has thrown out the spectacles on the end of the nose and cane stick pointing to a blackboard approach. He is the more, right arm over the shoulder, with a beer in the left hand and have a chat type of coach.

    Once the chat is over and a few promises made from both sides, I suspect Leheman delivers on his part and expects you to deliver on yours.

    I also think Warne feels nearly anyone could have coached the Aussie team he played with for the last part of his career. He probably feels Buchanan got a bit of a free ride which is probably unfair to Buchanan.

  • Kaka13 on January 6, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    I agree that Leheman did miracle after Micky removal, he understands the Australia team better and infuse confidence to continue play their brand of cricket. I remember similar case of Greg Chappel case in India when he tried to change the style and fiddle with techniques of styles likes of Sehewag and destroyed confidence. When we have players at Test level and they come to that level playing their own style and if u try to change it will not work.

  • ShutTheGate on January 6, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    @ Dianne Skinner - I disagree, for starters if we're one or two down for not many we don't want someone to attack at number 3, we want someone to steady the ship, build a partnership and avoid a collapse.

    I also think that Watson would score more runs when the ball is older. Simply put, he doesn't average anywhere what a world class number averages and many of his significant innings come in the second innings.

    Can you name a match where Watson made a ton in the first innings and set the game up for Australia? The number 3 has to do that at least occasionally.

  • LoungeChairCritic on January 6, 2014, 5:36 GMT

    Some of the Ozzi supporters who believe that none of the Indian batsmen would make the Oz top 6 mustn't have Foxtel. Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli and Rohit Sharma are class. They will all play over 100 tests and average over 45 at the end of their career's. Our batsmen are generally struggling to average over 40. India's strength is their batting and spin bowling (In certain conditions). Their fielding and fast bowling needs to improve. In saying that Mohammed Shami is a find who will do well on Ozzi pitches.

  • BobCo on January 6, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    What's with these comments about none of the Indian players making Australia's top six?! I'd put Pujara and Kohli (even with the attitude problems of youth) easily in front of Watson, Smith and Bailey as batsmen. And I don't see that changing in the future viz. Smith and Bailey. If Watson can work his head out, he'll be a world beater, but he hasn't managed it yet.

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