CRICKET: Former greats called in to counsel Test team
A host of ex-Test stars were invited into the Australian dressing room following their comprehensive second Test loss
Australia coach Darren Lehmann has revealed his embattled team threw open the doors of a sombre, silent dressing room to a host of former Test stars tonight in a bid to snap his side’s worsening form slump.
Just hours after South Africa sewed up the three-Test series with a thumping win – built on the back of another humiliating Australian batting collapse – Lehmann gave an insight into some of the measures being taken to find a cure.
He said that during his tenure as national coach stretching back to 2013 he had not experienced a dressing room that was “as quiet after a loss” as the sheds at Blundstone Arena on what was the scheduled fourth afternoon of a Test that had already lost a full day to rain.
And that his players had been visited and consoled by former Australia players (now broadcast media commentators) Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, Shane Warne, Michael Slater and Tom Moody - although not immediate past captain Michael Clarke - in a bid to raise ailing spirits and slumping self-belief.
Given there is just over a week until the third and final Commonwealth Bank Test – a day-night match under lights at Adelaide Oval – begins next Thursday.
“We've had legends come into the room and talk to all our guys,” Lehmann said tonight when asked how he planned to make good on his recent pledge ‘get better at the game of cricket’ in order to turn around the current five-test losing streak.
“We've had guys, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, (came into the rooms) before.
“The young guys who are playing today looked up to them.
“We had the Channel Nine guys (Taylor, Healy, Warne and Slater) come in today and speak to us.
“They're all class players who have a great view of the game - we don't have all the answers, so you have to ask different people how you go about it.
“The players might pick up on one thing from a Mark Taylor or Shane Warne, or whoever it may be.
“That's how you get better and learn the game.
“Our training and preparation, to be fair, has been pretty good, I would say.
“But on the ground we haven’t been good.
“We have to look at all aspects of our game.”Lehmann, who with national selection panel chair Rod Marsh, Mark Waugh and Trevor Hohns will sit in judgement of the incumbent personnel over the weekend, has foreshadowed there will be further changes for the third Test.
Lehmann nominated skipper Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner, and pace bowling pair Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood as the only members of the team from Hobart that were assured of starting in Adelaide.
Although he declined to identify how many changes might be made to a line-up that has not fielded the same starting XI in consecutive Tests – for reasons of form and fitness - since last November’s matches against New Zealand in Brisbane and Perth.
With 11 Tests having come and gone since then, for a record of five wins, as many defeats and a draw over that time.
One notable change that has been wrung is to send all six specialist batters (including Smith) back to their state teams for the round of Sheffield Shield matches that begin in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth on Thursday.
With pace bowlers Starc, Hazlewood and Joe Mennie the only members of the team that surrendered in Hobart to be granted a break from an already jam-packed schedule.
The team was also addressed by Cricket Australia’s Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland and Executive General Manager Team Performance Pat Howard who returned to Hobart today.
But Lehmann claims that it will be actions, not words or wisdom offered in the change rooms that will decide the fate of a number of incumbent and aspiring Test players.
With their performances in the upcoming round of Shield matches to play a pivotal role in the make-up of the Test team for the remainder of the current summer, and the four-Test tour of India that follows in February and March.