Coach backs un­der­fire Clarke

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Aus­tralia coach Dar­ren Lehmann has said cap­tain Michael Clarke will get as “long as he needs” to come out of his bat­ting slump.

Scores of 10 and three dur­ing Aus­tralia eight-wicket de­feat by Eng­land in the third Test at Edg­bas­ton — a re­sult that saw the tourists go 2-1 be­hind in the five-match Ashes cam­paign, left Clarke with a mea­gre se­ries ag­gre­gate of 94 runs in six in­nings at an av­er­age of un­der 19.

Fol­low­ing a match that was all over in­side three days of a sched­uled five, Clarke con­fronted his own fail­ings by sug­gest­ing Aus­tralia were play­ing with 10 men. Clarke, who for much of his ca­reer had en­joyed a Test av­er­age of over 50 — the mark of an all-time great — is av­er­ag­ing a mere 18.80 this Ashes.

In­deed his av­er­age slipped to be­low 50 af­ter this test for the first time in three years.

And hav­ing been plagued by a long­stand­ing back com­plaint, as well as more re­cent ham­string trou­ble, there has been spec­u­la­tion this could be the 34-yearold’s last tour.

But Lehmann be­lieves the class that has seen Clarke score 28 Test hun­dreds has not de­serted his skip­per.

“He’ll get as long as he needs, he’s cap­tain,” Lehmann said af­ter Fri­day’s quick­fire de­feat.

“We’re not go­ing to panic, that’s for sure,” the for­mer Aus­tralia bats­man added. “But he’s got to play well.” Adam Vo­ges, how­ever, is un­likely to re­ceive sim­i­larly un­equiv­o­cal back­ing ahead of the fourth Test which be­gins to­day at Trent Bridge.

For all that he scored a de­but hun­dred in the West Indies re­cently and has vast ex­pe­ri­ence of English con­di­tions due to time spent play­ing county cricket, the 35-year-old Vo­ges’s av­er­age for the Ashes af­ter three Tests stands at 14.60. Now his place could well be in jeop­ardy when on-tour se­lec­tor Rod­ney Marsh and Lehmann come to pick their side for Trent Bridge.

“Adam would be dis­ap­pointed, like the other play­ers are,” said Lehmann.

“It’s a dis­ap­point­ing game for us and we’ve just got to cop the crit­i­cism we cop and get back on and work out what the best XI is to win the next Test match.”

Mean­while, Lehmann said leav­ing out Brad Haddin from the team that played at Edg­bas­ton was the hard­est de­ci­sion of his ca­reer, amid ac­cu­sa­tions it made a mock­ery of Aus­tralia’s ‘ fam­ily first’ pol­icy.

Wicket-keeper Haddin was over­looked in favour of the younger Peter Nevill af­ter the 37-year-old pulled out of the sec­ond Test at Lord’s to be with his sick daugh­ter Mia.

Nevill, 29, took seven catches at Lord’s and made 45 dur­ing an im­pres­sive Test de­but as Aus­tralia thrashed Eng­land by 405 runs to level the se­ries at 1-1.

Marsh, one of Aus­tralia’s great­est wicket-keep­ers, and Lehmann then de­cided Nevill should re­tain his place ahead of Haddin, who had not been at his best dur­ing the first Test in Cardiff — he dropped Joe Root on nought who then went on to score 134 in the first in­nings — which Eng­land won by 169 runs.

There were re­ports Haddin’s omis­sion in Birm­ing­ham had caused un­ease in Aus­tralia’s squad, while for­mer Test opener Matthew Hay­den slammed a move that could well sig­nal the end of the keeper’s 66-Test ca­reer as “out­ra­geous”.

But Lehmann in­sisted Haddin’s form did not war­rant a re­call.

“The cold hard facts are he’s played the last 12 Test matches and made 250 runs at 15, with 16 bowled out of 21,” Lehmann said.

“I know there’s been a big hooha about ‘fam­ily first’ — well, we still have that. There’s been a very un­bal­anced view from a lot of peo­ple about it.

“We cer­tainly care about Brad and his fam­ily,” he added. “We all love Hadds, the play­ers love Hadds.

“That would be the hard­est de­ci­sion I’ve had to make as a coach, or even as a player.”

— AFP

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