Will Australia cobble together a new side?

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One of Darren Lehmann’s strengths as a coach is his pragmatism. When he first took over, he assessed the various players available to him and concluded that he was going to have to make do with a few who were less than ideal.

David Warner was a tool, but he was a good opening batsman, so he was in. Chris Rogers was 46 years old and probably past his best, but he was still better than the other options, so he was in. No-one would jump for joy at the prospect of selecting Brad Haddin, Shane Watson or Nathan Lyon, but Lehmann hasn’t discarded them in the quest for something better. He’s given them a chance.

Similarly, when they needed a new middle order batsman recently, they didn’t go for youth – they went for 35-year-old Adam Voges who has a very good, but not exceptional, first-class record. Despite being only occasionally fitness-prone, Ryan Harris was kept about the place to play when he could.

From these occasionally wonky components, Lehmann somehow put together a very good side. But the fragility didn’t entirely disappear. The parts didn’t entirely become equal to their proportion of the whole. It was still a team which cycled through fast bowlers and where the lower order frequently bailed out the top order.

It shouldn’t really have been such a surprise that England could better them – particularly as they’d only won one of their previous 14 away Ashes Tests. However, if you look at some of the players involved and start to think that the result makes sense, it’s worth remembering that we’ve been here before. Darren Lehmann didn’t get fat by being unable to make a decent meal out of unspectacular ingredients. It’ll be interesting to see what he throws into the pan for the next Test.


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  1. Ha ha de bloody ha, how much are we loving this disintegration of an over-confident, overrated side?

    Maybe a bit premature though… at least wait until we’ve beaten them 5-0.

    1. Top international teams are very good in home conditions. Why is this news and why are so many people surprised by England’s win?

  2. I think they’ll only make one voluntary change; Mitch March for Shane Watson.

    If Mitch Starc is unfit, then also Siddle for Starc.

    Or perhaps better, if they do make the two changes, to describe it as one Mitch in, one Mitch out and Siddle of Shane-diddle.

    Excellent “Lehmann’s girth causation” reference there, KC. I approve.

    1. Hang on, I’m unable to make a decent meal out of unspectacular ingredients – does this mean I can never be fat? Or just not ‘Darren Lehmann fat’?

  3. This is the problem with planning for Ashes series.

    In a more sensible version of this universe, there was no Ashes this summer (or in 2013/14). As a consequence, Australia would have spent their northern summer doing whatever it is that Australians do when they’re not playing cricket (something involving barbecues and starting fights with 12 year olds in terrible theme bars). In this parallel world Ryan Harris, Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin would have been ushered towards dignified retirement and Voges would likely have never been selected at all.

    Australia’s test selection choices have essentially been fighting fires since the holy catastofuffle of their Indian tour and while it has brought some impressive successes (the Ashes, whatever the South Africans call the Ashes when they get horsed by the Baggy Greens) it has also seen some real horror shows- the UAE, Lord’s 2013 etc. It just feels odd that players like Haddin and Watson are being given one last run at an away Ashes victory when neither player has been all that good in English conditions and other options are readily available.

    All that said, I still expect Australia to win this series 6-1, with 2 extra tests awarded to them when a shell-shocked England fail to turn up at the Oval.

  4. There’s a diet book called ‘Girth Control’. In my opinion, the best title ever.

    1. When my wife was expecting our first child, she said she would like to write a book about the unspoken psychological effects of pregnancy on women.

      I suggested the title ‘The Elephant In The Womb’.

    2. If there were any justice in this world, you’d be able to retire on that pun, Sam.

      My book on intergalactic gold-mining techniques, meanwhile, was universally panned.

    3. If you were able to retire on the derision you received, Mike, I suppose it might then be a bed pan.

  5. Was Chris Rogers really 46 or was that hyperbole to emphasise just how old the Aussie are?

    Darren Lehmann is 45.

  6. I for one hope Australia continue to forget the strategy that won them the last Ashes, and continue selecting bowlers who look so great when they take wickets that you forget just how many half-volleys they bowl.

    I did some research the other day and found something interesting: over Mitchell Starc’s career, Australia have eight wins, seven losses, and three draws when he’s played. Over roughly the same time period, they won 12, lost three, and drew four when Ryan Harris played. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but I think the Aussies will miss Harris more than they seem to believe right now.

    1. People say that psychology is so important in cricket, but if belief could do it all, the Australian fans would have one the Ashes without their team having to play.

    2. In some way, you have to admire the confidence of a national that expects to win when they’ve only won one test here in the last, what, 15?

      And equally, question English fans’ pessimism.

      Although I hope this series doesn’t go the way this one did after Edgbaston 97.

    3. I think Siddle coming in will be good for them in that respect. They’d have been better calling up Ben Hilfenhaus than Pat “six first class games ever” Cummins though.

    4. Siddle should be typical Siddle: quietly irritatingly effective. He’ll bowl 20 overs, take 2 for 50, and then hopefully be dropped again for Starc.

    5. He’s only 35 years and ten days old to boot, even younger than Vo-jizz! First-class debut in the 90s!

  7. Haddin out. Peter Nevill in.

    Yet another cricketer with a missing letter in his name. Maybe Jos Buttler can lend him one.

    1. …and Faulkner out of the one day tour.

      To the extent that wheels can come off so early in the tour, the Aussies are still rolling along, but…

    2. KC’s statement that Ryano would be the first of many flies to drop looking especially prescient now… all hail the King.

    3. Nevill is Haddin’s backup at NSW, too, no? Apparently he’s even worse at keeping than Haddin, so he’s really just another batsman. And he’s almost 30, so not exactly a forward looking decision.

      On the other hand, maybe he’s not a miserable excuse for a human, so there might be progress that way.

    4. …and now there’s even a gate; Beergate.

      I haven’t had a chance to take a proper look at that one but it sounds really serious. Perhaps Peter Siddle and a bunch of clumsy Cubans broke in somewhere to corrupt an election or something?

  8. Not just broken, it seems:-

    Aaron Finch ‏@AaronFinch5
    Home to Melbourne today, shattered.

  9. Sounds like Watson has been confirmed as dropped.

    And as far as Haddin goes, I can’t stand the man, but I do hope the personal issues are nothing to do with his daughter.

  10. I immediately thought that his wife had found a nicer man, but I too hope it’s not his daughter.

    He is not going home so his personal issues may be that he is keeping and batting like crap.

  11. Crock
    A so-called moonrock that appears in the foreground of a photo taken by NASA when the US made their first landing on the moon.

    The shot shows an astronaut walking away from camera towards the moon Rover and one particular rock in the foreground on the side has a very distinct letter “C” stamped or carved into it with a chisel.

    Conspiracy theorists think that the C rock could be a stage prop which must have accidentally gotten by the camera department that was filming this huge hoax.

    NASA denies this and blames it on a “hair” on the camera lens.

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