Off-field disputes might have made most of the headlines in Australian cricket over the past ten months, but head coach Darren Lehmann is looking to put that firmly behind him. In an open letter, he called on all stakeholders in Australian cricket - most pointedly past great cricketers - for any advice that would help turn around what has been a disappointing year for the national side, and return to "where we belong".
"We as support staff are always looking for ways to improve and welcome any advice from you, so if you have any ideas however 'out there' they might be, please reply below," Lehmann wrote. "Your advice is always helpful. After all, we as players both past and present don't have all the answers and as support staff we are always looking for the best way to drive us forward in the game."
Addressing the letter to the "past and current players and members of CA and ACA", Lehmann did not shirk away from acknowledging results weren't "as we would have liked" in the past year, but also mounted a staunch defence of his players' training, work ethic and desire. He sought to dispel "misconceptions" that fast bowlers didn't bowl enough, saying that their training regimen ensured that was "not the case at the highest level".
While much of the content of the letter reads like a fairly standard case of a coach defending his beleaguered team against what he felt was unwarranted criticism, it is the repeated invitation to past players to get more involved with everyday preparations that stands out.
"It was only 12 months ago we were number 1 in Tests and One Dayers and for us to get back there it will only happen with all of us going in the one direction and supporting Australian cricket. If at any point you would like to come into the change rooms or to come along to training and see how we do things and prepare, please let us know and we can facilitate the process. The players and staff love seeing you guys around and taking through the game you played."
The recent pay dispute that brought Australian cricket to a standstill was resolved ahead of a key period for Australian cricket. A two-Test series in Bangladesh begins on August 27, before the side heads off for a limited-overs tour of India. That is followed by an Ashes series and a full tour of South Africa which concludes in March 2018.