The Investec Ashes 2013

Players 'too scared' under Arthur - Ponting

Brydon Coverdale

June 27, 2013

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD - APRIL 19: Ricky Ponting and Darren Lehmann of Australia celebrate their record third wicket partnership for Australia against any nation in the rooms after day one of the Second Test between the West Indies and Australia on April 19, 2003 at Queens Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Ricky Ponting believes Darren Lehmann will ensure the players "try to have fun and enjoy the experience of playing for Australia" Hamish Blair / © Getty Images
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Ricky Ponting believes Australia's new coach Darren Lehmann will bring calm to the squad and instil the players with confidence after they appeared "too scared" under Mickey Arthur. Lehmann has now spent three days in charge of the squad after the surprise sacking of Arthur on Monday and he has less than two weeks to prepare the Australians for the first Investec Ashes Test, which begins at Trent Bridge on July 10.

The first opportunity for the batsmen under Lehmann's mentorship will come in Taunton on Thursday, when the Australians bat against Somerset in their ongoing tour match, and men like Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson will be desperate for big runs after struggling on the previous Test tour of India. Writing in the Daily Mail on Thursday, Ponting said it appeared as an outside observer that the pressure on the players had become too great under Arthur.

"The bottom line for me is that maybe the players had been put under too much pressure by the previous regime and that pressure needs to be released now," Ponting wrote. "It's hard to judge from afar but they seem to have been too scared to play the way they can. It's not a question of trying to live up to the great names of Australia's past, it's a question of the current group playing as well as they can."

Ponting played under Arthur for a year before his Test retirement in December and he has now spent seven months away from international cricket, watching as the Australians struggled in India and the Champions Trophy. He said that if a change of coach had to be made then there was no point waiting until after the series, and he believed that Lehmann would bring a sense of fun to the group.

"'Boof' has had a lot of success as a coach and even though I have never played under him I know exactly what he'll be like around the Australia team," Ponting wrote. "He will bring calmness to the group, make sure they try to have fun and enjoy the experience of playing for Australia. Above all, he will instil confidence into the young guys in the team who seem to be lacking it at the moment.

"Will this decision affect the outcome of the Ashes? Well, only time will tell. Australia could have won the first Test under Mickey Arthur and equally they could win it under Darren Lehmann. What I do know is that they need to be aggressive and take England on now. They will under Boof."

Ponting said it was his belief that Arthur's axing was the result mostly of Australia's on-field struggles over the past few months, although the off-field turmoil - the homework saga in India and David Warner's punch at Joe Root in England - had not helped. Ponting said he did not believe there was anything more Arthur could have done to prevent the Warner incident occurring, and he said the players needed to take some responsibility for the on-field failures as well.

"Everybody involved has to take responsibility for this and that includes the players," Ponting said. "There is only so much the coach can do. Once the players step over that line it is down to them and our displays clearly haven't been up to scratch."

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

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Posted by darkandlightblue on (June 29, 2013, 18:43 GMT)

With the appointment of Darren Lehmann we are likely to witness a much closer Ashes contest. Lehmann was the appointment that the players and management craved and for Michael Clarke the kindred spirit to share his ambitions.

Darren Lehmann is likely to become one of the best coach/managers any international cricket team has had. His hands on and motivational approach were evident when Yorkshire's overseas player. He is confident, enjoys his cricket and wants to win.

This appointement is very good for cricket. Let us enjoy a riveting and sporting Ashes summer.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 11:58 GMT)

Hughes is fantastic batsman when he is offered long hops wide of the off stump Anything straight with a hint of swing or spin of high quality he is all at sea and struggles embarassingly.

Posted by deathstar01 on (June 28, 2013, 9:35 GMT)

Hope Lehmann will change Aussie's recent records.

Posted by HansonKoch on (June 28, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

@ Red_Drag0n Hard to argue a case in favour of Khawaja over Hughes.

Hughes earned his spot by hitting a bunch of hundreds at Shield and County level. He was a clear standout on the lower rung. Kwahaja, not so much.

Although there's certainly a case for dropping Hughes on the basis of fragile Test performance, what has Khawaja done to demonstrate he's the heir apparent?

Can anyone explain the hype surrounding Khawaja? It's not like he's Matthew Hayden when he was averaging over 100 for the season. He's not even averaging 50.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 6:28 GMT)

The problem is lack of guardians. Like what Steve Waugh did to Ponting. How he took care of him. Talent was never a problem for Australia. It's the attitude and dedication to the game is lacking.

Posted by David_Bofinger on (June 28, 2013, 5:24 GMT)

If one player fails to do his homework that reflects badly on the player. If four do it reflects badly on players and coach - the coach has failed to communicate, or failed establish his authority, certainly something is wrong.

I suspect Lehmann for Arthur is a good change, but there are big problems in selection too and I'm not sure if those are fixed yet. I think Ponting, with his strong interest in young players, would make a great selector.

Posted by Red_Drag0n on (June 28, 2013, 1:26 GMT)

I don't think there is a lack of talent (apart from Phillip Hughes). Main thing needs to be worked out is the right combination of batsmen. Bowling combination doesn't seem to be the problem. Should give more chances to Khawaja. He is any day better batsman than Hughes.

Posted by leighsydneychina on (June 27, 2013, 23:58 GMT)

It's interesting to compare iPL and test cricket. . But not really valid. Test is the key word. .to play test cricket requires mental toughness. ..physical toughness and strong leadership. .. Australia is lacking in all of these areas from the administration to on-field captaincy. Australia will have a lean time of it for a few years yet. This is similar to the pre Alan Border era. We have NO leaders nor any toughness in the team.

Posted by icknid on (June 27, 2013, 23:22 GMT)

The best first aid that Lehmann can do, in the short time he has, is to instill into the Aussie team to put national pride over any personal issues. Ego's are big on both sides - it's the nature of modern sports with well paid stars. With England, stars such as KP know exactly where they will stand if a boundary is crossed. To win for your country should be the ultimate goal -I don't know, maybe I'm old fashioned. Having said all that, KP would do ok even if he falls out of favour with the England establishment.....because he has the BIG, FAT IPL!

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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