The Investec Ashes 2015 August 9, 2015

Selectors got things wrong - Lehmann

Following Australia's 3-1 Ashes defeat to England in 2010-11, then chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch unwittingly heaped further ridicule on his panel by stating he felt they had done a "very good job" that series.

There were no such prevarications from Australia's coach Darren Lehmann this time around, as he weighed up the implications of an identical margin with one Test of this series to play. Asked how much responsibility he and the selection chairman Rod Marsh took for the team's predicament, Lehmann was blunt.

"A lot," he said. "As a coach and selectors we've got things wrong at certain times, there's no doubt about that. We've got to own up like players have to and everyone else that our performances weren't good enough, full stop. We've got to work on how we're going to move forward.

"For us it's about working out what our best line-up is in different conditions and making sure we've got players who can adapt between spinning wickets and seaming and swinging wickets and making sure they can cover both formats really well. We've got a bit of thinking to do and reviewing what went wrong. So it's about getting batsmen who can bat long periods of time and bowlers who can put pressure on, day in and day out."

Specifically, Lehmann admitted the selectors should not have abandoned their long-held policy of employing an allrounder in Test matches. Mitchell Marsh was dropped for his brother Shaun, unbalancing the bowling attack - Mitchell Starc was left to bowl an 11-over spell at one point - while the extra batsman made no difference at all to a ghastly first innings 60 and an ineffectual 253 in the second.

"I spoke to Rodney this morning and we wanted the extra batter and spoke to the captain about it in this particular game, but we've always wanted five bowlers, so we probably got that selection wrong," he said. "Happy to admit when we're wrong, you don't get everything right, and that's a good learning curve for us.

"We're really strong on having five bowlers and we didn't do that this game. In the end it didn't matter, we only bowled once and we didn't bat well enough, so that's a learning curve for us. We'll look at all areas where we can improve. That's just what you do after series like this and try and move forward. We've had some really good results, this obviously not being one of them."

Lehmann also raised a query about the fact the selectors were left to choose a single squad for dual tours of the West Indies and England. The first trip provided a vastly different set of conditions and challenges to the other, even down to the fact the Caribbean matches were played with a different version of the Dukes ball. Lehmann and Marsh were left to drop Shane Watson and Brad Haddin after one Test in England, making their selections look near enough to redundant.

"We've had that discussion as a selection panel and that was a tough one for us," Lehmann said. "End of the day we were guided a bit by above and how we wanted to move around from West Indies to England. But if we had our time again we'd probably prefer to pick different squads at different times.

"Logistics and other things come into it that are way above my head. But if we had our time again we'd probably like to pick separate squads and then see what comes from the West Indies tour leading into an England tour."

The team's capacity to learn, both from matches in the past and also mistakes earlier in this series, was highly questionable at times. Lehmann actually reckoned the Australian Test side of 2013 had performed better than this one, a poor reflection on his own work and that of his support staff including the assistant coach Craig McDermott, batting coach Michael Di Venuto and fielding coach Greg Blewett.

"Fair to say that. I think we played better [in England] in 2013 to be perfectly honest and that's probably answers your question. We certainly didn't cope with the swinging or seaming ball in the last two Test matches well enough and that's something we have to get better at. Our preparation was fine, I can't complain about the work ethic from the lads either. We got out-skilled by a very good cricket team in England."

With a new leadership axis about to form between Lehmann and Steven Smith, the coach agreed he faced a challenge to keep his own methods fresh in a role he has now had for more than two years - his longest coaching stint at any single team. Smith's elevation to the job will provide a sea change of sorts, but Lehmann will also have to find new ways to thrive, provided he decides to stay on.

"For me it'll be how we develop as a side now," Lehmann said. "And the transition of players that's probably going to happen. So for us it's about making sure we pick the right players with the right way we want to go about things. And look they're fantastic, but if you're going to have that transition of older players and new players and that's going to be an exciting challenge not only on me as a coach but also the coaching staff and players adapting to different places.

"I'm actually looking forward to the last Test. I think it's going to be a great last Test match, and very enjoyable for England. But we've got to try to get a result there for us. And then you've got the one-dayers, the one-day guys coming in which will keep us fresh as well. You'll have new players. That does keep you fresh and excited. You're on the road a long time, no doubt about that, but I'm still a cricket nuffy and love watching cricket. Don't like watching 60, though."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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