Darren Lehmann must bite his tongue to help Australia’s chances

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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    Michael Clarke and Darren Lehmann in happier times. (AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK)

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    The Australians are shooting off at the mouth too often. After nine Tests without a win it’s time to they focus solely on improving their own game.

    Since the Ashes were regained by England, players James Faulkner and Mitchell Starc have had potshots at their opponents, while coach Darren Lehmann has seemed intent on sledging the Poms.

    After first labelling Stuart Broad a “cheat” for the infamous incident in which he didn’t walk after being caught at slip, Lehmann last week aimed fire at the English style of cricket.

    When asked what he thought of England’s play during the recent series he described it as “dour”.

    He then added that “at times I’d like to see their over rates picked up”.

    Ironically, both of these criticisms were very relevant to the manner in which Australia went about their business in the Ashes.

    They, like England, were often guilty of getting through their overs far too slowly.

    Every international team regularly commits this same crime and it is a major issue for Test cricket which has been allowed to fester by the International Cricket Council.

    If Lehmann is disturbed by England’s over rate he should instruct his side to set a better example.

    The coach should ensure that Australia’s over rate is so healthy in the upcoming series that it either forces the Poms to match it or shames them by comparison.

    Lehmann has previously stated that he is intent on any side he coaches playing attacking, entertaining cricket.

    Nothing is less attacking or less entertaining than crawling through your overs.

    As for his reference to England’s ‘dour’ cricket, he should be preaching to his players the value of adopting such a style on occasions.

    I am not a fan of the way England plays Test cricket – I find it often boring and sometimes cynical. But it works.

    I would hate to see Australia become a pale imitation of the English side.

    However, they should be willing to implement facets of the Pom’s approach when necessary.

    The Aussies need to learn to grind out a Test – either to stave off defeat or to maintain a stranglehold on their ascendancy.

    Australia had first innings leads in four of the five Tests in the Ashes yet came away without a win, although admittedly the weather did not help in some instances.

    The batsmen largely were to blame and, as has been the case in recent years, their impatience and desire to counterattack was often their downfall.

    Compare that to the batsmanship of Ian Bell, who repeatedly came to the crease with England in perilous situations and guided them with circumspect play stripped of arrogance.

    Bell was prepared to score slowly early in his innings in the knowledge he would flourish once well set.

    Would Lehmann consider this dour cricket? I’d rather describe it as sage.

    In any case, England’s supposedly ‘dour’ play has repeatedly saved them from defeat in recent years after they have found themselves being dominated.

    It has also ensured they have rarely given up winning positions in the same generous manner as Australia.

    In the same interview in which Lehmann made the ‘dour’ comment, he also praised his side for having made progress during the Ashes.

    That is undeniable – the Aussie batting improved over the series and the bowlers adeptly implemented wise strategies for most of England’s batsmen.

    Lehmann should forget about the whingeing and focus on maintaining this upward curve in performance along with attempting to iron out the obvious deficiencies in Australia’s play.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco