Cricket - Lehmann appointment may be inspired

It might have seemed like a panic measure for Australia to sack their coach less than three weeks before the Ashes and give the new incumbent just two matches to prepare new charges.

PA Sport
Cricket - Lehmann appointment may be inspired
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Australia coach Darren Lehmann wants his players to express themselves on the field

Certainly it was rough on the likeable Mickey Arthur to be ditched just before he had his chance in a defining campaign. Yet in his replacement Darren Lehmann, it may just be Cricket Australia have hit on the right man in the nick of time.

That at least appears to be the consensus reaction on the most recent ructions in the Australia camp, albeit largely from partisan voices. As a former Yorkshire team-mate of Lehmann's, Michael Vaughan certainly counts as such - as do a clutch of contemporary compatriots, who have had their say on the sudden turn of events.

Tom Moody recognises a fellow winner when he meets one - and Lehmann, on the field with his native South Australia, his country and Yorkshire - then off it, principally as coach of Queensland - has a persuasive pedigree.

"Even though it's an off-field appointment ... they suddenly haven't inherited a Sir Donald Bradman in the batting line-up or a Dennis Lillee in the bowling line-up ... they have have secured a mentor," said Moody.

"(Lehmann is a) coach who will provide an environment where players will feel free to enjoy themselves within limitations but to express themselves under pressure on the field of play without fearing the consequences if it doesn't go their way."

Lehmann, it seems, is broadly in favour of licence for players to express their talent. As a game-changer with the bat, he had that freedom himself. A player with a one-off mixture of power and dexterity, he could hit the ball in directions others could not - and was a nightmare to bowl at once set, at any level.

"With Darren, his coaching has been 'we are going to have fun, we are going to enjoy it'," said Damien Martyn. "But with Queensland, he has sent guys home who are five minutes late for training. They can't train. He gives them a tongue-lashing as well."

Lehmann's own public statements to date have been all about accentuating the positive. "I just hope I take pressure off all the players," he said. "We've got to let them play the game of cricket. It's a tough enough game at the best of times, so my role is to make sure they're enjoying themselves on and off the field, learning about the game and all those things, and making sure we play a positive brand of cricket."

The Lehmann way, ultimately successful or otherwise, ought to have some sort of galvanising effect on tourists so badly in need. For Cricket Australia, it was probably a gamble worth taking.

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