Aussie Angle: If anybody can sort this lot out ahead of the Ashes, Darren Lehmann can
The timing’s not the best but it’s better now than mid-Ashes
Monday 24 June 2013
I know Darren Lehmann well, and he's a man who knows how to win. He's a double World Cup champion as a player, he's won three tournaments in Australia as a coach in all formats of the game and he's won the Indian Premier League too. He's the right bloke for the job.
"Boof" likes the way the game was played in the past, and in Test cricket there's still a bat and there's still a ball. You go around Australia and you won't hear a bad word said about him. What he's very good at is man management. He will bring a different approach to the job. He'll sit down with the team and say: "Well listen, guys, how are we going to win this match?" And he will allow the players to do the thinking themselves.
I think young players like Usman Khawaja, who plays under Lehmann at Queensland, will do better now. But it's not only the youngsters. "Boof" played under coaches like Bobby Simpson and John Buchanan, back in the days when we were the best team in the world and had the best set-up. So he knows about how to handle the old-school type of player as well.
If anyone can turn it around in a short space of time, he can. But the pressure now is on the players themselves, not on Lehmann. Now the old coach has gone, there's no one else left to blame. If they didn't want Mickey Arthur, they've got what they wanted but now it's time to put up and shut up. Now we'll see how good they really are.
I think Michael Clarke doesn't want to be a selector any more because the rotation system that has been introduced just doesn't work for our team. The players have told Clarke: "Look, we don't want to have you as a selector, we want to be able to confide in you."
As we found out from Cricket Australia yesterday, Mick was told that he was ultimately responsible. He's taken a bullet that he didn't see coming. We always take tough decisions in Australia, always have, always will. The timing's not the best but it's better to do it now than halfway through the series.
So was the decision pre-planned? Is it a coincidence that the CEO of Cricket Australia, James Sutherland, is already in England three weeks before the start of an Ashes series? I've known James since he was 20 and I've never seen him so irate as when he described David Warner hitting Joe Root as "despicable". And Sutherland is taking personal responsibility for the decision.
Mick's record was OK but no more than that: 10 wins and six defeats in 19 Tests. If it wasn't for one session against South Africa last year, when we were reduced to 6 for 45 in the third Test in Perth, we would have been the No 1 Test team in the world. But it's all been downhill from there. And Homeworkgate in Chandigarh and other incidents have not gone down well.
Mick's a quality bloke but he may not have understood the Australian culture around the team. We've got to surround the side with a core group of former players who have been there and done that. You could have 10 to 15 of them in that group to get the culture right. They don't have to all be involved at once, just two or three at a time.
I was the batting coach with the team earlier this year. Mickey invited me in and he was fantastic. During the winter Michael Clarke asked Matty Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath to come in and we all worked with the team for a whole Test match at home; we were effectively part of the squad, and we were brought in to help the players make good decisions.
So is it now time for Clarke to give Mike Hussey a ring? The board didn't handle that situation well at all when he decided to jack it in.
One thing's for sure, it was time for a change. We never lost 4-0 in India, we never did so badly in a one-day tournament. Never once in my playing days did I see a player hit another player. If you behave like a buffoon off the field, you will behave like one on the field too.
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