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Lehmann gives Mitchell Marsh licence to attack

Darren Lehmann and Mitchell Marsh have a laugh during practice Getty Images

Australia's coach Darren Lehmann has hinted at a difference of opinion with his possible successor Justin Langer over the future of Mitchell Marsh, whose recent struggles in the Test team have been attributed to a lack of mental clarity over his best means of success.

Marsh made a halting start against New Zealand in Canberra on Tuesday before freeing his arms to devastating effect, and Lehmann said this was the way he wanted to see the allrounder bat in the future - as a destructive middle-order player capable of changing the momentum of a game.

However he also indicated that there had been plenty of people in Marsh's ear in recent times with differing views as to how he should bat, and pointed towards the Perth Scorchers and Western Australia state team - both coached by Langer - as places where that may have emanated from.

"It's good to see him make some runs," Lehmann said of Marsh. "He struggled the first 13-14 balls and then he got one away and away he went. I think he said yesterday he's got to play with a bit more freedom, and he certainly is a highly talented young player, and he's got to find his way.

"You've got so many coaches and different views - a Scorchers view, a WACA view, Australia view - and different coaches around the place. For him he's got to work out what works for him, and my personal opinion is when he's playing shots he's a lot more dangerous."

Langer, who coached the Australian ODI team to a victorious triangular series in the Caribbean earlier this year and is widely thought to be in line to succeed Lehmann in the future, has made a point of encouraging Marsh to be used up the batting order. He also spoke publicly about his belief that Marsh had the potential to be a top-four batsman in all formats - a role that would entail a more sophisticated method than the power hitting he exhibited at Manuka Oval.

"He can easily become a four or five in all formats of the game," Langer said earlier this year. "That's what he'll be aspiring to do and he's certainly got the ability to do that. With maturity I think he could easily do that in all formats. He's that talented."

Marsh has batted in the top five for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield this season without once passing 50, and for his part has said he now thinks he is best suited simply trying to play with freedom.

"I've had a few conversations with Boof [Lehmann] ... I think in red-ball cricket the last couple of years I probably haven't played my natural game," Marsh said this week. "I've tried to be a batsman that bats time but for me I'm a hitter of the cricket ball and for the next few months I think I'm going to bat like that and really back myself. I might get out a few ugly ways at times, but I feel it will give me the best chance to score runs and score big runs.

"When you're not scoring runs you tend to try plenty of different things in the nets to make something work. The last week or two I've simplified it to watching the ball as hard as I can and then letting my natural ability take over. I felt much better once I've done that and really just clearing my head."

Lehmann, meanwhile, was complimentary of Glenn Maxwell's attitude in the wake of his team fine for comments about Victoria captain Matthew Wade. Maxwell may be slotted back into the Australian ODI team for the third match against New Zealand at the MCG on Friday as Lehmann looks to shuffle his options and potentially rest one of his fast bowlers.

"He's been fantastic. Full credit to him the way he's handled it and the way he's been around the group in getting prepared to play each and every game," Lehmann said of Maxwell. "We've named the team quite late both times because we've only got down to the ground just before. He's missed out at the last minute and he's handled that really well. For him he's just got to be ready to play, if he gets his opportunity then away he goes."

More light was also shed on the "leadership group" that elected to fine Maxwell. Lehmann said he had instituted a group of senior players in each of the teams he had coached, starting with Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Peter Siddle four years ago. The group is now comprised of David Warner, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, with input too from the captain, Steven Smith.

"I've had that wherever I've gone really," Lehmann said. "I think that's a good idea because sometimes they might have a problem with the coach or the skipper, so it's a good idea to have those senior players, and the skipper working closely with that leadership group, as staff we sit back and let them go with that.

"It gives them responsibility for how they want the team to run and perform and act and all those sorts of things. We've had that the last four years, it's just chopped and changed depending on who's playing and selection a little bit. Now that we've got a core group, they can pretty much do it and run it.

"It just gives the players a voice to us if they're not happy or want to change something they can go through that. Some players aren't happy to deal with it direct [with me] and that's fine too."