Darren Lehmann says the memory of the late Phillip Hughes remains within the Australian cricket team as his charges aim to level the Ashes at one-all at Lord’s starting Thursday.
Attending a Hardy’s function at the Home of Cricket on Monday night, Lehmann said winning the 2015 Cricket World Cup at the helm was more meaningful than as a dual-winner as a player due to the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the sudden death of the much-loved Hughes.
“As a coach, probably more satisfying only because of the summer we went through with Phillip Hughes,” Lehmann said when asked whether achieving the World Cup win as player or coach was more satisfying.
“The way we dealt with the Phillip Hughes scenario, and it was obviously a shock to everyone, and we still think about it every day as you would do.
“There’s a coach in South Australia, Phillip Walsh, who’s just died, for the Adelaide Crows, and they’re going through a similar thing a lot of people in this room wouldn’t know about.
“For us, that summer was tough work, really tough work.”
Quick Single: Waugh surprised by flat Australians
The cricket world mourned the passing of Hughes last November when the left-hander was struck by a short-pitched delivery during a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG.
The 25-year-old died two days later at St Vincent’s Hospital before friends, family and well-wishers gathered in Hughes’s hometown of Macksville to say one last goodbye to the 26-Test top-order batsman.
The Commonwealth Bank Test series against India that followed was reshuffled as players from both camps attended the funeral and took some time to mourn the loss of one of cricket’s genuine nice guys.
Quick Single: Johnson will rattle England at Lord's: Harmison
“I was surprised (with Australia’s performance) … we played India and we played an unbelievable Test match in Adelaide Oval two weeks after Phillip’s death, and that was the toughest month I’ve ever had as a coach let alone as a human being, to deal with that and realise we’re only playing a game.
“For me, the World Cup final was unbelievable at the end of it considering what we’d been through the whole summer.”
While Australia won the Test series 2-0 thanks to emotional wins in Adelaide and Brisbane, Lehmann admitted he wasn’t sure what his players would deliver in the most trying time of his coaching career.
“It was six months of hell and the players did a great job to get on the park first and foremost,” Lehmann added.
“It was probably the best thing they did, to get back and play.
“But we didn’t know what we were getting when they went out and played.
“As a coach, staff, as Cricket Australia or as fans, we had the emotion ride for a long period of time and it still goes today.
“Obviously it gets less and less as the days go on, but to achieve that as a coach and the players to achieve and do what they did for that period of time was pretty special.”
Click above to learn more about how to stream the Ashes and more cricket