Ashes 2013-14: Darren Lehmann added fun factor to Australia team, says Shane Watson

This is the time of  my life. I know how lucky I  am to be involved

Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has credited coach Darren Lehmann for bringing the fun factor back to the side’s dressing room and allowing them to enjoy playing cricket once more in the 5-0 Ashes series thrashing of England.

Watson’s credentials as a cricketer have never been in doubt but his ability to gel with his Australia team-mates has come under regular scrutiny in the past. Persistent reports of friction with the captain Michael Clarke were followed by a full-blown crisis on Australia’s tour of India last year, a situation not helped when the tourists were thrashed 4-0.

“It’s a game that if you take too seriously – and I do at times – you can really get too internal and the game gets too much for you,” Watson said yesterday. “I knew that’s what was happening within the Australian team and, like I say, Darren Lehmann comes in and within one day turns that all around.”

Watson, along with three other players, was sensationally stood down for the third Test in India after failing to provide then coach Mickey Arthur with suggestions on how to improve the team’s performance. The episode, dubbed “homework-gate”, led to Watson flying home – ostensibly to be with his pregnant wife – and threatening to quit playing for Australia.

Arthur was replaced by Lehmann just days before the Ashes series in England last summer and, although the burly former batsman’s no-nonsense approach failed to prevent a series defeat then, Australia emerged as a dominant force back on home soil. The day after completion of a comprehensive series victory over England in Sydney on Sunday, Watson said he felt vindicated for questioning the team culture under Arthur.

“There were times I knew I had to stand strong with my beliefs for the betterment of what I thought was to get the best out of the amazing talent we had in the group,” he said.

“I would certainly never take back how I stood and voiced my opinions at certain times. I know when there’s down times if you stand strong enough and persevere for long enough that it might turn around – and it has in a way I never ever expected.”

Lehmann had also made the team environment “special”, according to Watson. “This is the time of my life. I know how lucky I am to be involved in such a special environment because it doesn’t always come along,” the 32-year-old said. “I’d always had certain beliefs and I’d been lucky to be around so many great teams to know most importantly that you need to be making sure you’re having a lot of fun.”

Watson had a mediocre series, scoring 345 runs at an average of 38, fuelling speculation that he might have to move down from his No 3 spot during next month’s tour of South Africa.

“I didn’t set the world alight at all but there were times when, hopefully, I did contribute enough to us being involved in winning a Test match,” he added.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks