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.