The Investec Ashes 2013 August 26, 2013

Lehmann with much to learn


Australia must improve and so too, by his own admission, does their coach Darren Lehmann. In the aftermath of a 3-0 series defeat that ended with an ICC fine for too readily taking the bait thrown by England fast bowler Stuart Broad, Lehmann said he had learned much from his first international assignment, including the fact that even a "jovial" radio interview back home can ping around the world if he does not choose his words more wisely.

Lehmann arrived in the job only two weeks before the start of the Ashes bout, and while he has been credited with lifting Australia's team spirit and preaching an aggressive, flair-filled brand of the game, he has been unable to bring about the lift of standards required for the team to win a Test match. They have now gone nine Tests without singing the team song, and as Lehmann acknowledged his error in responding to Broad, he also spoke of unearthing a "winning attitude".

"It was a good learning curve for a new coach, wasn't it?" Lehmann said. "You know, a jovial setting but you've got to learn from that. I've got to learn and improve from that. The players aren't on their own in trying to improve. Coaches have got to improve so that's something I've got to get better at. I've had a chat with him (Broad) already. We just move on.

"I'm still loving it, it's a great job. I'd like to win a Test match though, but it's a fantastic job. Now I've seen all the players here, and the one-day and Twenty20 players are obviously [arriving] Thursday, so you get to deal with them and look at how we're going in that format of the game as well. By the end of the tour I'll have a really good mindset on all the players, which will be quite comforting for me as coach."

Lehmann did not retreat for one moment from the version of cricket romanticism he and captain Michael Clarke have shown an evangelical zeal for, even though England's shrewdness and pragmatism has stonewalled them repeatedly across the series. He took pride in having setup a thrilling final day of the Oval Test, though the generosity of Clarke's declaration meant the tourists were ultimately left cajoling the umpires into using their light meter and ending play - the object of a crowd's well-oiled booing at the end of the match.

"Look, I can't control the crowd. They've been pretty good all series. We've kept them quiet most of the time, even though we are 3-0 down, so it shows how close it probably is," Lehmann said. "In regards to that you can't do anything about that. What I do know is that game was set up totally by the Australian cricket team and I think the crowd probably enjoyed that more than the other days so far. That's the brand of cricket we want to play. We want to push the boundaries.

"We were quite happy to lose a game to set up the game. English fans have been great all summer, but to come out and see that on the last day, I think it was outstanding from Michael and the set-up what we tried to do. We want to keep challenging our players in those situations to get better, learn from the mistakes we make. We're going to make mistakes, we understand that. But we've got to improve from there. If we do that, then we can challenge."

Having had so little preparatory time ahead of the series and also no say in the touring party that was chosen, Lehmann said that while he had been impressed overall by the work ethic of the players, changes could be expected before the return matches in Australia. It may be that Lehmann asks for his own choices of assistant coaches, as has become fashionable in 21st century sport.

"It's great learning about the players how they are. I'm very impressed with their work ethic on and off the ground, how they go about it," Lehmann said. "I think there's a lot of improvement in our setup, which is exciting for me. Would I change too much? Really hard when you've just come into the setup and the touring side's been picked. When we're back home you'll probably see different things happen, but in terms of hearing a lot of things from outside and not being in that circle for many years, to come in and see how they're trying to improve all the time was impressive for me. Now it's just a matter of improving that skill level for us to compete better than we have."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lewis on August 29, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    Sunil for me also boof is the best coach in the country, we will be singing his praises after the home ashes and i also think he will bring the best out of our lefties such as Khawaja, Cowan, Warner and co especially on playing spin

  • Rahul on August 28, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    @Paulrampley good words mate, like you i am a fan of boof as well, and expect us to do much better in the home ashes and like you i expect the likes of Warner and Khawaja to fire under him and also add Smith to that list as well.

  • Allan on August 28, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    Boof is a good coach, he came in 2 weeks before the series started and we were competitive in most of the test matches except for Lords. What i like best about boof is that he instills belief in the younger players and i expect the likes of Warner, Khawaja, Starc and Bird to come through strongly under him.

  • Martin on August 28, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    "Lehmann did not retreat for one moment from the version of cricket romanticism he and captain Michael Clarke have shown an evangelical zeal for, even though England's shrewdness and pragmatism has stonewalled them". Nicely put Daniel. The reason that Lehmann & Co (some of their fans) are whingeing is PRECISELY because they could get absolutely nothing out of England. Not a cent. "Romanticism" and Australia do not go in the same sentence together. Australians are bent on winning and winners. Losers get ignored. This is why there is hardly any mention of cricket in the sports pages of the Australian press. Cricket Australia does not want it's marque series or it's team ignored as losers. So - faced with the problem of how to manage the public image of this losing Australian team, Lehmann et al are forced to rant and spit the dummy because that's all they have. "We were quite happy to lose a game to set up the game" This is also an attention seeking giant lie. Lehmann has no credibility.

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 5:53 GMT

    You can't change the fortunes of a team so quickly. Lehmann has done a fair job. The team has finally found a direction.

  • John on August 28, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    @MinusZero on (August 28, 2013, 0:14 GMT), except that they did take 20 wickets in both the first and fourth games of this series. They may have done in the second game if their batsman had scored more first innings runs and they may have done in the third if it hadn't rained. It's hard to say what would have happened in the fifth game if a day wasn't lost to rain but England did look fairly comfortable even scoring at 5 an over. Regardless of the fifth Test, it's clear that the ability to take 20 wickets was not Australia's primary issue.

  • Harvey on August 28, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    There is much focus on Australia's batting failures, but what about their bowling. No wins in 9 tests. That means 9 matches that they havent been able to take 20 wickets.

  • Simon on August 27, 2013, 22:30 GMT

    @ disco_bob I'm not commenting on Cook, I'm commenting on the praise Clarke is getting for making an "aggresive" declaration, personally I don't rate either of them as a captain. But if you were England and you had an upcoming ashes series in Aus to play, you wouldn't want to give Aus an easy win to gain some confidence. As others have pointed out, it was clarkes only choice, if he hadn't of done it he's a muppet as would be any other captain.

  • Anthony on August 27, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    Lehmann: "Coaches have got to improve so that's something I've got to get better at."

    So he's got to get better at getting better? Need to polish up the PR speak, Daz.

    And gsingh7 and electric loco, are those thrashings of India by England STILL hurting? C'mon, it's only a game.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    It was not a "brave declaration" by Clarke.It was a desperate attempt by Clarke to salvage something after a disatraous tour and 7 loses in the last 9 test matches.It was not even a gamble.It was sheer desperation.

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