The Investec Ashes 2013 August 13, 2013

Careers are on the line - Lehmann


Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach, has said that some members of the squad could be playing for their careers during the final Investec Ashes Test at The Oval next week. Lehmann said the loss at Chester-le-Street on Monday was "bloody hard" and that Australia should have won "quite comfortably" given the strong platform set by the openers Chris Rogers and David Warner, who contributed to a start of 147 for 1 in a chase of 299.

But the loss of No.3 Usman Khawaja, lbw to Graeme Swann, then Michael Clarke to a ripper from Stuart Broad, Steven Smith hooking a bouncer down onto his stumps, and Shane Watson and Brad Haddin walking across their stumps to be lbw meant a collapse of 6 for 34, leaving far too much work for the tail. Lehmann said the continued failure of the Australians to stand up at the big moments meant there was much on the line at The Oval.

"Yep. There is nothing wrong with that. I'm happy for you to write whatever you write there," Lehmann said when asked if players could be playing for their careers. "To play for Australia, you have to perform to a level that's acceptable to everyone in our team, and also the Australian public and the media, and at the moment we're not doing that.

"I think they've fought really hard and they've shown glimpses of challenging a really good side obviously, but we haven't done that consistently enough. So we'll back them as we have and we will continue to back them, but at the end of the day performances count.

"From our point of view the blokes have got to learn. If they don't learn we will find blokes that will ... If they're not, and making the same mistakes, then we've got to change, and that's a simple fact of cricket and results."

The manner in which several of the Australians got themselves out during the chase was especially frustrating to Lehmann, who simply wanted his men to play straight. England's bowlers, Stuart Broad in particular, bowled well after tea and dried up the runs, but Lehmann said several of the Australian batsmen had contributed just as much to their downfall.

"Blokes are missing straight ones. That doesn't help," Lehmann said. "I thought Warner got a good ball, to be fair, Clarke got a ripper and probably Rogers got a decent ball. The rest should have played a lot straighter and they know that."

The one silver lining for Australia on the fourth day was the 109-run opening stand between Warner and Rogers, Australia's best opening partnership in a Test chase since 1995. Warner played a mature innings that mixed defence with a desire to score, and Rogers added to his first-innings 110 with a tenacious 49, leaving them locked in as the opening combination for the time being.

"The way they played today, yes," Lehmann said when asked if Warner and Rogers could stay at the top for the next year or so. "Warner was very good today. I was very impressed with him today and Rogers has been probably the find of the tour for us, the way he has gone about it, and his demeanour off the field and what he brings to the playing group as an experienced player. So I have been really impressed with both of them."

So much so that when Lehmann was asked if Watson would be considered at The Oval if he was unable to bowl due to his hip/groin injury, he responded that "no-one's guaranteed, apart from Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers, I would think". The Australians travel to Northampton this week for a two-day tour match ahead of the final Test.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Debanjan on August 15, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    I think CA should include G Bailley in the squad.Shane Watson should make way for him.Tim Paine should replace B Haddin.

  • Kishor on August 15, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    Why cant they try out the 5 bowler and 5 batsmen option. Bring in your best 5 Batsmen and Best 5 Bowler with a spinner. 5 or 6 Batsmen would make much of a difference, especially when you know line-up is going to fail anyways. Atleast you can have 5 Quality bowlers ask questions at Eng Batsmen and in that effort reduce the amount of runs or centuries Eng make. Who knows it could be a blessing in disguise.

    In an effort to build a test team for future, you have to start with 5 Batsmen and 5 Bowlers, especiall when you know you have nothing more to loose.

    Althouh when going in with 5 Bowlers (as the better Captain of recent times Mr. MSD says) one of them could be under utilised. Buts that's Clarkes and Lehmans to decide.

    Clarkes field placing are amazing but not as much as his bowling changes. He should consider to bowl smith in tough situations when there is a partnership of more than 100 or so...

  • Ross on August 15, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    Smith and Khawaja to get centuries in the oval test, will come back when they get it.

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2013, 3:14 GMT

    Let's face it, Australia is 3-0 down because the batsmen are performing very poorly and don't look like they are up for the challenge at times. Some of them look like dead men walking when at the crease. I'm not sure whether they have the ability to stick it out or whether they are so fearful of failure and losing their spots in the team they don't play freely enough. In the end it comes down to runs and Australia just don't look like it at the moment. The galling part of it all is that England aren't that great, it's just that Australia are downright terrible.

  • Chris on August 15, 2013, 2:37 GMT

    The thing is, that these are Australia's best batsmen. There is no valid argument to push for anyone else at the moment. There are a couple of young players with potential to be really good, but they still need to show a bit more yet. Australia A is filled with players averaging 35 in first class cricket.

    A lot of great batsmen struggled early in their careers. Guys like Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting had been in for a while and not gone as well as anyone would have liked and got dropped before coming back better. But they didn't get dropped after a handful of matches, but 20 or more. Steve Waugh's first hundred was 4 years after his test debut.

    The only real problem with any of these players is that there is too many in that situation at the same time. You can carry one or two young players trying to find their way, but it becomes very hard doing it with 3/4 of the team at the same time.

    They need to persist with these guys and give them a chance to come good.

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2013, 2:21 GMT

    it seems, the batters have forgot basics of Test cricket. England is the the no.1 Test team and they are having lowest run-rate (just ahead of Zimbabwe), but they are not the England's greatest one. What they are doing is, to keep them updated with format. As Lehman said, apart from Rogers-Warner-Clarke, batsmen played badly. Test batting needs patience & batters of this Fast-format era are forgetting those test cricket fundamentals. Aussies need to re-invent that Test glamour.

  • John on August 15, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha on (August 14, 2013, 9:38 GMT), blah, blah, blah! We all know that there's a margin for error in HawkEye predictions. How do you know that the ball that dismissed Watson wouldn't have actually taken more of the stumps and the one to Bresnan missed altogether? The fact is you don't. Yes, they were close calls and England got the better of them but that doesn't actually make them wrong. If the Australian team were like you and just kept blaming their losses on luck while giving the opposition no credit and taking no responsibility themselves then nothing would ever change. I'm guessing that you're one of those Aussie fans who grew up rarely experiencing an Australian loss and thereby developing an attitude that Australia have some inherent right to victory. You say that Smith was unlucky but how many England batsmen have played on this series? Were they any less unlucky? It's not the 90s any more. Wake up and smell the defeat.

  • ramu on August 15, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    I think Australia need to drop Hadduh, Watson and Khwaja. They havent done anything. They should bring in Phil Sykes, Paul Parrose and Mario Bonanzo. I think these guys will perform better.

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2013, 1:52 GMT

    As Ian Chappell said last night it's easy to drop someone but who do we replace him with?Yes the batting was awful.Yes they bowled well.But we still have to pick a side to win at The Oval.

  • Dale on August 14, 2013, 23:32 GMT

    @LeeHallam I'd fundamentally disagree with the idea that " There is no evidence that Australia have suffered to any greater degree to bad decisions than England"

    But i do agree that the decisions aren't the reason we've lost the series. First off Agar's stumping wasn't a bad call. It was one that could go either way and IMO the batsmen should get benefit of the doubt in situations like that. Correct call.

    So far i would say there have been four absolute howler decisions. Broad not out @ Trent Bridge, Khawaja Out at Old Trafford, Rogers out @ Lords and Smith not out at Old Trafford.

    That's 2-1 against Aus. I also disagree fundamentally with the decision to overrule the on field decision and give Haddin out at Trent Bridge. There was a small noise, no hot spot no ball deviation and no conclusive evidence to suggest a nick. The on field decision should have stayed.

    But overall what has cost Australia is poor batting and poor use of DRS. Correct calls would only make it closer