Pitches slower than when I played: Boof

Australia coach finds out first-hand about the Sri Lanka wickets, bemoans state of 'docile' home pitches

Australia coach Darren Lehmann only needed a brief Colombo nets session to be convinced that the pitches his side have been exposed to in Sri Lanka are far slower than any he came across during his decorated international career.

Lehmann stepped into the nets at Australia training ahead of the ODI series opener in Colombo, winding back the clock with the sort of stroke-play that made him one of his era's best players of spin bowling.

Boof hits the nets in Colombo

But the left-hander, 46, was surprised by the condition of the wicket on which he batted, and subsequently the wicket at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium came under heavy fire from Aaron Finch and Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews for being far too spin friendly.

"I wanted to actually get a feel for what the wickets are like," Lehmann told Radio FIVEaa in Adelaide of his impromptu hit.

"You always go 'What the hell are we doing?' half the time, so I just went in and it's a lot slower than I can remember when I played. A lot slower.

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"So that was quite interesting for me to get a feel for that and that's the only reason I did it. I was sore the next day after only batting for five minutes (laughs).

"It was good to get a feel for it. Sometimes you just don't know until you're out there and I'm glad I can still do that sort of stuff.

"They're really slow and they're turning a lot, a lot more than when we played, for example."

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As well as assessing the contemporary Asian conditions, Lehmann is well placed to comment on those from earlier in the century as well.

As a middle-order batsman, he played nine of his 27 Tests on the subcontinent, making two hundreds and two fifties and averaging 45.73.

The two hundreds came on Australia's 2004 tour of Sri Lanka, in which he led run-scorers from both sides during the visitors' 3-0 series triumph.

In ODIs, Lehmann didn't fare nearly as well in Asia, playing 27 of his 117 matches on the continent and averaging 22.95 with one hundred and one half-century.

While conceding the pitch for the ODI opener was "one of the worst ones I've seen in my time", the coach also emphasised he couldn't put Australia's batting issues down solely to the state of the wickets they encountered during the three-Test series, which they lost 3-0 while only passing 210 once from six occasions.

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"The wickets weren't great, but the third Test match was a really good subcontinent wicket and we still got bowled out. So we've got some work to do," he explained, adding that the challenge was one also confronted by spin bowlers Nathan Lyon, Steve O'Keefe and Jon Holland.

"It's a different type of bounce for spinners. It's no different to when their spinners come to Australia, they struggle and our spinners go well.

"That's the challenge for all spinners and batsmen around the world – to adapt – and great players can do that.

"We've got talent with our spinners. Nathan Lyon has taken over 200 Test wickets but his problem is much like the batters; his record in the subcontinent is not great.

"I think he averages roughly 45 in the subcontinent and that's not good enough for a spinner. He knows he needs to change his style here and he didn't adapt well enough, much like our batters at various stages.

"We've certainly got to look at the type of spinner you want to pick and play, but in terms of the squad we picked for the Test series, I can't think of many changes we would have made after the summer where they played really well all summer and in New Zealand.

"To chop and change some players and would have been difficult."

Australia must heed lessons: Lehmann

Lehmann also believes that the homogenisation of conditions around Australia as a result of drop-in pitches haven't helped the situation.

"Drop-in wickets have brought a change to the way wickets are prepared in Australia with the football and the shared stadiums and all that," he said.

"That's great for the game obviously, but the wickets need to be different.

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"Perth used to be really fast and bouncy, the Gabba used to seam, Adelaide spun, Sydney spun from day one.

"So we had all those variables naturally as a youngster growing up and playing, but now with drop-ins and the way the wickets are they've become a bit docile."

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