New-look Aussies ‘copped a lot’, says Lehmann

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralia coach Dar­ren Lehmann said his play­ers “copped a lot” of crit­i­cism be­fore they em­phat­i­cally halted a run of Test de­feats against South Africa, adding that he’d love to keep his new-look team to­gether.

Lehmann said he was de­lighted for the ex­per­i­men­tal side, which fea­tured five changes in­clud­ing three debu­tants, as Aus­tralia’s se­lec­tion gam­ble paid off in the third Test against South Africa.

The Aus­tralians ended a five-Test los­ing streak with a com­mand­ing seven-wicket vic­tory over the Proteas, af­ter be­ing well beaten in the pre­vi­ous two games of the three-Test se­ries.

“Well, we won,” he said, when asked what the dif­fer­ence was com­pared to the first two Tests, which left Aus­tralia on the verge of their first ever home Test se­ries white­wash. “I’m just pleased for the play­ers. The play­ers have copped a lot over the last few weeks and they’ve re­sponded re­ally well. Ob­vi­ously a change of play­ers as well. “You feel sad for the blokes who missed out in this Test match but the guys who came in did a re­ally good job... a new young group go­ing for­ward, re­ally pleased for them.”

Lehmann said the door wasn’t closed for the play­ers who were dropped, but added that he’d like to keep the new group to­gether-if that is pos­si­ble, with vary­ing play­ing con­di­tions and peaks and troughs in form. “You’d love to have con­ti­nu­ity all the time (but) in this day and age some­times that’s not pos­si­ble,” Lehmann said. “But you’d love to keep a group to­gether, a younger group es­pe­cially with David Warner be­ing our old­est at 30. “If you can keep the group to­gether for five years or so, or what­ever it is un­til the older guys go-it makes it eas­ier. “But then you’ve got dif­fer­ent con­di­tions and blokes in and out of form. So you just have to sum it up along the way, but yeah it’d be lovely to do that.”

‘DAMNED IF YOU DO’

Lehmann’s coach­ing role was un­der the spot­light dur­ing the run of de­feats, which prompted chair­man of se­lec­tors Rod Marsh to step down call­ing for some “fresh think­ing”.

One key crit­i­cism was the de­ci­sion to rest fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and John Ha­zle­wood for the 5-0 ODI de­feat in South Africa, with Proteas skip­per Faf du Plessis sug­gest­ing it gave his side a men­tal edge.

In Ade­laide, Starc and Ha­zle­wood hit form as they took 12 wick­ets be­tween them to bowl Aus­tralia to vic­tory in the day-night third Test in Ade­laide.

Lehmann said there were no plans to rest them for the up­com­ing, three-match ODI se­ries against New Zealand-although he wasn’t sure if they would play ev­ery game. “(They will) play. We get in trou­ble if we don’t play (them)... They’re go­ing to play. At some stage,” he said.

Lehmann added: “We gave them a break, didn’t we? So they should get through the (Aus­tralian) sum­mer.

“But we got in trou­ble for that as well. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Straight-talk­ing Lehmann also brushed off high per­for­mance man­ager Pat Howard’s call for him to “rein­vent”, say­ing: “I was go­ing to wear a suit to the press con­fer­ence. I didn’t. “I chose not to.”—AFP

MO­HALI: In­dia’s Ajinkya Ra­hane, left, and Parthiv Pa­tel, cen­ter, make a suc­cess­ful ap­peal against Eng­land’s Ben Stokes, right, on the third day of their third cricket test match in Mo­hali, In­dia, yes­ter­day. —AP

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