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July 19, 2013
Australia's coach Darren Lehmann has conceded the batting inadequacies on such gaudy display at Lord's will take time to be rectified, not only within the Test team but at the domestic levels beneath. Lehmann spoke frankly of his side's abject slide from 42 for 0 to 128 all out, saying he had criticised the team heavily within the dressing room. He also revealed Shane Watson's wrong-headed referral of his lbw, the day's obvious pivot point, had been triggered by his partner Chris Rogers.
Across the day television cameras panned often to Lehmann, not least because he has chosen to listen to the commentary on radio. At Trent Bridge he had made his disgust plain when decisions went against his side, but here he offered expressions apparently drawn from the phrase "if you didn't laugh, you'd cry". But he was plain in his distaste for the way Australia had batted, giving up virtually all their pretensions as Ashes challenges in the space of little more than a session. Asked whether he had read the riot act to his players, Lehmann replied: "Yep. Done and dusted. That will stay in the rooms."
"The top order failed again and we need to make sure we're learning from our mistakes and probably haven't done that from the first innings at Notts to the first innings here," Lehmann said. "We showed glimpses but we've got to bat better. It was more one-day batting than Test match batting. We know we have to improve our batting over periods of time and bat a lot more than 55 overs. We believe the plans are right. Our shot selection was poor today. Simple as that. I think eight out of the 10 were self-inflicted to be perfectly honest."
Since his appointment Lehmann has spoken often of letting his players express themselves on the field, but not without certain boundaries. The issues witnessed at Lord's, from another squandered start by Watson to panicked shots by Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes, have also been glimpsed plentifully in Australian domestic matches, particularly now that the Sheffield Shield has been splintered by the dominance of the Big Bash League.
"There's freedom but there's also rules within that, and at the moment we're not following them as a batting group," Lehmann said. "Some of the shots today were certainly not what we talk about and using match awareness is the biggest thing for us, and making sure we're playing them at the right time in the right circumstances.
"Domestic level we haven't made enough hundreds either. Batting time is hard work and you see the England players have had a lot of hundreds in their top five. It's going to take time for the players to trust and believe they belong at this level. They certainly have all the attributes to play at this level, there's no doubt about that. It's the execution and the match awareness. All state coaches would be saying the same thing about how to play long innings because in state cricket we don't have too many of those either."
As for the fraught use of the DRS, which had the domino effect of clouding Rogers' thinking after wrongly approving Watson's decision to refer his lbw so the left-hander did not review his own dismissal, a freak departure to a Graeme Swann full toss that was sliding past leg stump.
"Bucky Rogers got that wrong with Shane, he told Shane to take it," Lehmann said. "That's just the way it goes sometimes, and then he should have used one on himself but he probably didn't want to after wasting one. As long as they learn from it that's the thing. We've certainly got the bowling side of it right with the referrals. Now the batters have to get that right."
"I think he's close to having a big score, but I don't want to keep saying that either to be perfectly honest," Lehmann said. "We want him to make big scores. He's a very good player and we've had a couple of good starts to be fair, 0 for 84 in the second innings of Notts and 0 for 42 here. We should be making big runs from there, a lot more than 128."
As for how Australia can improve, they need look no further than Ian Bell, twice already a centurion in this series. "He just stays within his limitations doesn't he," Lehmann said. "That's Test matching batting at its best."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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