Lehmann safe as coach: Sutherland

Darren Lehmann is safe as Australian team coach, says Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland.


Speaking in Melbourne the morning after Australia’s crushing loss of the Ashes at Trent Bridge, Sutherland was asked if Lehmann was “safe” and responded with an emphatic “yes.”

That yes was tempered with the promise of a review of the style of cricket Australia has played in less familiar conditions when overseas.

Australia’s aggressive brand of batting failed repeatedly in English conditions favouring seam and swing bowling, never more so than on the first morning of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge when England rolled the visitors for just 60 on the way to claiming a winning 3-1 series lead.

The heavy Ashes loss follows series defeats of 4-0 in spin-friendly conditions in India in 2013, 2-0 by Pakistan on dead wickets in UAE in 2014 and by 2-1 in South Africa also last year.

“After every series we will sit down and review, and I think there is an opportunity for a reflection on (our) style of play,” Sutherland said.

“It’s not easy playing away but it’s something we have to get better at. We want to be the best cricket team in the world and to do that we have to be better at playing away.”

Sutherland paid tribute to the career of captain Michael Clarke, who has announced he will retire at the end of the series, having struggled badly with the bat.

He labelled Clarke a “hero to a generation” of young Australians.

“He will be remembered for his courage and the way he played the game,” Sutherland said.

“I don’t think I can think of an Australian cricketer that has worked harder to put his best on the field, day after day, week after week.

“He finished on his terms and this (retirement) is a small moment in a great career.”

“I wasn’t surprised at his decision, understanding the pressure he was under.

“He is making the decision that the time is right and his judgment is appropriate.”

Sutherland gave Steve Smith a strong endorsement to become Australia’s next Test captain.

“We have someone in waiting who has had experience as a captain,” he said.

“In recent months he has been rated as the best Test cricketer in the world. Steven is ready for this challenge but no one is ready-made to just walk into it.”

Sutherland would not be drawn on whether veterans Brad Haddin and Shane Watson had played their last matches in the baggy green after controversially losing their spots early in the series.

“That’s for other people to decide, it’s not for me to speculate on that right now,” he said.

“We will review performances and make assessments on what has happened.”

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