Lehmann courts wisdom of greats

Australia coach taps into the expertise of past players ahead of a gruelling nine-month schedule

Australia men's team coach Darren Lehmann has thrown open his team's dressing room door to gather advice and insights from the nation's former players in a bid to return Australia to the top of cricket's global rankings.

In the wake of the at-times acrimonious MOU debate that saw current and former players pitted against the administration, Lehmann has taken the unusual step of writing directly to Australia's vast network of retired cricketers to seek their input on improving the current playing group.

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In his missive, also sent to current players and Cricket Australia office holders, Lehmann acknowledges that the performances of the national men's team in all three international formats over the past year have been less than spectacular.

In that time, the Test outfit has lost series against Sri Lanka, South Africa and India, the reigning world champion ODI team was humbled 5-0 by South Africa and bounced out of this year's ICC Champions Trophy tournament in the group stage, and a revamped T20 line-up was beaten 1-2 by Sri Lanka in Australia.

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As a result, Australia now sits fourth (with the prospect of sliding to sixth should they fail against Bangladesh later this month) on the Test rankings, second in ODIs and sixth in the 20-over format.

In conceding that he and fellow members of the Bupa Support Team do not hold all the answers to redressing Australia's slide down the rankings, Lehmann is tapping into the expertise often expounded in newspaper columns and broadcast panel programs where former greats pinpoint the shortcomings of current players.

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He has encouraged all ideas, no matter how far-fetched or 'out there' as his team prepares for a gruelling nine-month schedule that features Test series against Bangladesh and South Africa (away), a home Ashes campaign against England and a raft of limited-overs fixtures in India and Australia.

"We as support staff are always looking for ways to improve and welcome any advice from you, so if you have any ideas however 'out there' they might be, please reply," Lehmann says in a letter published by News Corp Australia today.

“Your advice is always helpful. 

"After all, we as players both past and present don’t have all the answers and as support staff we are always looking for the best way to drive us forward in the game.

"If at any stage you would like to come into the change rooms or come along to training and see how we do things and prepare, please let us know and we can facilitate the process.

"The players and staff love seeing you guys around and talking through the game you played."

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Lehmann specifically mentioned the issue of bowler workloads, a topic that was hotly debated once again prior to last summer when Australia opted to send a largely untried pace attack to the five-game ODI series in South Africa where the tourists failed to win a game against the Proteas.

In recent years, former Test fast bowlers including Jeff Thomson, Geoff Lawson and Rodney Hogg have publicly queried the competing needs to rest and to maintain match readiness among front-line fast bowlers.

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In extending an open invitation for past players to visit training sessions and speak with players and support staff about modern-day preparation and injury management, Lehmann is hoping to clear some of the misconceptions around workloads and availability.

"As for training, I know there is a lot of talk about bowling workloads etc, and I can say that we always have enough bowling taking place at training for the quicks to get better and the batters to make sure they are getting enough so the misconception sometimes is that they don’t bowl enough," Lehmann wrote.

"This is not the case at the highest level.

"We are focusing on our skills now with an emphasis on being able to withstand the pressure and create pressure of our own against a variety of opponents throughout the year, both home and away.

"Whilst results haven’t been as we would have liked in the past 12 months, as Head Coach I can promise you their (players') work ethic is second to none at trying to get better as people first and foremost and at the game of cricket that we all love so much.

“We have been hunted for a while and now it is time for us to become the hunters and get back to where we belong.

“It was only 12 months ago we were number one in Tests and One Dayers and for us to get back there it will only happen with all of us going in the one direction and supporting Australian cricket.

“There is a lot of work to do for us to get back to where we want to be and no stone will be left unturned in our desire to achieve this and for all players, past and present, to be very proud of this young group.”

Australia's 14-man Test squad departs tomorrow for the three-week Qantas Tour of Bangladesh that features Test matches in Dhaka (Aug 27-31) and Chittagong (September 4-8).

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad (preliminary): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mahmudullah Riyad, Liton Kumar Das, Mominul Haque, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Subhashish Roy, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Rubel Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sanjamul Islam, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Mohammad Saifuddin, Anamul Haque, Abul Hasan Raju, Al Amin Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Muktar Ali, Tanbir Haider, Saqlain Sajib, Shafiul Islam.

11-17 August Australia pre-tour training camp, Darwin

18 August Australia arrive

22-23 August Tour match,Fatullah

27-31 August First Test, Dhaka

4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong