Australia coach Lehmann glad of tight turnaround
CARDIFF, July 13
Australia coach Darren Lehmann believes the fact there are only four days between the first and second Ashes Tests will help his side recover from their heavy defeat by England in the series opener.
Ashes-holders Australia lost the first Test with more than a day to spare as England won by 169 runs at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens on Saturday. The second Test at Lord’s begins on Thursday and Lehmann said: “From our point of view it’s more of a case of a good, short turnaround for us.” The former Australia batsman added: “I think that’s an excellent opportunity for us to get back in to it and learn from our mistakes and play better next Test match around. Yes they’re one-up, but it’s a long series as we know.”
Australia have not won an Ashes series after losing the first Test since their 1997 tour of England and indeed haven’t won a Test series in England for 14 years. But Lehmann tried to downplay the Cardiff defeat by labelling it a “minor hiccup”, although he said Australia had been outplayed.
“They (England) were better. Full stop. Better in all three disciplines — they caught everything,” said Lehmann. “It’s a minor hiccup and now we’ve got to get back to it in four days time and play better than we have and show the discipline you require to make big runs on these type of wickets and bat a lot longer.”
He continued: “There was some good bowling from England, there’s no doubt about that, full credit to them. But our batters could probably stay in a little bit longer with shot selection I’d say. But having said that, they’re quality players and they’ll come back well.” There had been talk before the series regarding the possibility of England preparing pitches to nullify the threat of Australia’s fast bowlers — something former England wicket-keeper Matt Prior dismissed as a joke.
Cardiff has long been renowned as a slow and low pitch although, if anything, it was quicker than when Australia last played a Test at Sophia Gardens in 2009. However, Lehmann hoped there would be more pace in the pitch at Lord’s. “You’d hope so at the ‘home of cricket. I’d just like to see you be able to bowl a bouncer on day one. That’d be nice, but that’s okay,” he said.
Mitchell Johnson took 37 wickets at under 14 apiece during Australia’s 5-0 thrashing of England during the last Ashes campaign in 2013/14. But the left-arm fast bowler was not at his best in Cardiff, where his two wickets in the match cost 180 runs. Lehmann, however, said he saw signs of improvement throughout the match. “I think Mitch got better as the game went on. I thought he was better in the second innings (2-69 in 16 overs compared to none for 111 in 25 in the first),” he added. “At the end of the day he’s a class bowler. If he gets it right, he can certainly run through sides.”