The Investec Ashes 2013

Lehmann puts batsmen on notice

Daniel Brettig

July 15, 2013

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Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke chat while training, Worcester, July 1, 2013
Darren Lehmann has put the onus on his batsmen, especially the top order, to revive Australia's Ashes campaign © Getty Images
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Australia's batsmen have been placed on notice by their coach Darren Lehmann, who declared after a memorable first Test match in charge that the team's long-standing and disproportionate reliance on their bowlers for major runs must end if the Ashes are to be won from 1-0 down.

Last-wicket stands of 163 and 65 almost carried the tourists to victory at Trent Bridge, but as on the India tour earlier this year the late-innings heroics contrasted starkly with failures further up the order. Lehmann said that while Australia had proved they could worry England, his batsmen were the major difference between victory and defeat, most glaringly at their first opportunity when slipping to 117 for nine before Ashton Agar's world record union with Phillip Hughes.

"I think we've done enough to show this is going to be a really close series and we've just got to capture those key moments," Lehmann said. "And I think if you look back on the game, we've certainly got to bat better as a top order. That's probably the key. We're going to bowl very well and we know we can control their batters. It's a matter of making more runs."

"Our tail has done really well over a long period of time now but it's time for the batters to make sure they're making the runs and giving the tail a bit more time. I think we only batted for 63 overs (sic 64.5) in the first innings and 110 in the second. We've got to be reversing that about, batting for 120 overs plus in the first innings of a game and making our runs then."

No one symbolised this issue more distinctly than the No. 3 batsman Ed Cowan, twice swishing his wicket away with cover drives that did not correspond to his commission as an obstinate occupier of the crease. Others like Shane Watson, Chris Rogers and Steve Smith did not go on from starts, and even the captain Michael Clarke struggled to assert himself at No. 4. Lehmann said Cowan in particular had tried the patience of the selectors with his choice of shots.

"He had a tough game," Lehmann said. "We've told Ed how we want him to play and how we want him to bat. That certainly hasn't changed from when he first came into the side, I would think. Having not known what's happened or what's been said before, we picked him to do a role. He'll be disappointed with the shots. So are we."

"That's just part and parcel of what we're about, we're trying to learn and get better. I'm sure he'll get better at that as well. Like everyone's position, you've got to make runs and perform. So we'll sit down as a selection panel over the next couple of days and work out what we think is the best XI to play the next Test match and work from there."

Having been appointed as the team's coach only two weeks before the series began, Lehmann said he would not be over-emphasising technical advice by way of a remedy to the batsmen's deficiencies. Instead he pushed the concept of each player knowing his scoring areas against each bowler, and demonstrating belief in the methods that had brought them this far.

"I don't like tinkering with techniques too much as a coach," he said. "It's more about getting a game style you want them to play to particular bowlers. And if they do that and play in certain areas you want them to play in, we're going to be okay. From my point of view it's about managing them and what they're thinking and how they're going to play in certain situations the best you possibly can when you've got time. But you've got to remember I've been in this job for two and a half weeks, so it's a case of just doing little bits and pieces at a time."

In keeping with the selection secrecy that shrouded Agar's debut, Lehmann kept his options as open as possible for Lord's. The pacemen Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris are both expected to come into serious contention for spots, while the option of playing five bowlers will also be discussed by Lehmann and the selector on duty Rod Marsh.

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

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Posted by   on (July 18, 2013, 8:23 GMT)

if australian top order batsmen scores then aussies have a great chance of winning the second test at lords....

Posted by Shaggy076 on (July 18, 2013, 2:54 GMT)

siddhartha87 ; Probably because the bowlers batting averages are above Khawaja and Cowans on this tour with the added benefit of being able to bowl. Agar, Siddle, Pattinson, Faulkner all seem to be in better form with the bat.

Posted by siddhartha87 on (July 17, 2013, 11:25 GMT)

OMG some of you have been really funny. 5 specialist bowlers??? no way.Why Cowan should bat at no 3?? he should be kept as back up of Watson. Wonder why Khwaja is still not given a chance. Khwaja should bat at 3

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (July 17, 2013, 8:49 GMT)

I know that nobody is going to agree with me here but I would bat Ashton Agar at number 6, as a batting all rounder, and counter it by having James Faulkner at number 8 as the bowling all rounder. Then get rid of Cowan. The fact of the matter is that Usman Khawaja is not in great form and if the bowlers are getting the runs why not go with your strengths?

Posted by   on (July 17, 2013, 7:27 GMT)

@Brusselslion, yes! Ponsford, that's who we need and Trumper at no.3 please!

Posted by mangom on (July 17, 2013, 2:51 GMT)

Im sure people wont agree but personally i think Australia should consider stacking the team with their strengths (fast bowlers) instead of weak batsmen. Especially with the recent history of it not being an uncommon sight of see a break down in the aussie pace attack.

Sure it would be risky, but time and again now the batting has just not performed and has had to be supplemented by contributions from the bowlers.

I always got the impression Cowan was in the team as an opener to see out the new ball, but rogers is currently a far better player.

Posted by Jagger on (July 17, 2013, 2:09 GMT)

Khawaja has failed at international level time, and time again. No more chances. Boof coaches him at QLD so he knows he is not up to the standard. Usman Khawaja is the wost fielder ever to represent the Green and Gold. Should not be picked under any circumstances.

Posted by RodStark on (July 17, 2013, 0:13 GMT)

It's amazing that some (presumably Australian fans, unles they are English fans having a troll) keep suggesting bringing in players who aren't in the touring party, let alone those who have retired. Maybe England should check on the availability of Ramprakesh?

Posted by   on (July 16, 2013, 23:48 GMT)

I'm pretty sure that if the Australian selectors wanted Simon Katich in the next test they could pick him. I mean, they can pick whoever they want can't they?

Katich, a career #3 for NSW, would be absolutely fantastic. A double ton for Lancashire last week you know?

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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