'I apologise for Ashes defeat' says Lehmann
Australia coach Darren Lehmann addresses the Ashes performances, the issue of families on tour and Michael Clarke's final Test match
Darren Lehmann is head coach of the Australian Cricket Team. He played 27 Tests and 117 ODIs for Australia. He became coach in mid 2013, guiding the team to the 2015 World Cup.
There are a few issues to address now that the Ashes have been lost, and the first one I want to focus on is our on-field performance in the past two Test matches.
We don't walk away from that responsibility, and we have been as up-front as we can over the past few days to explain that's the case rather than try to find excuses.
Not only do we want to be accountable for our efforts, but on behalf of our team I want to apologise for the manner in which we have lost, especially to those tour groups and individual fans who paid to travel to the UK to watch us and to the millions more tuning in at home.
We understand how disappointing the series has been, and I can reassure you we are doing our very best as a group to identify the areas in which we need to improve in order to ensure we get better as a team.
Australia's 10-60 Trent Bridge nightmare (restrictions apply)
The only good that comes from making mistakes is to learn from them, and having accepted that we got things wrong we now need to set about doing our best to prevent those errors happening again.
As a playing group or as a coaching group we are no different to other organisations – we're always trying to get better and we will conduct a full and frank review at the end of the series to identify what needs to change.
But I maintain great confidence in the future of Australian cricket –in the coaching staff who have come in for their share of criticism over recent days, in the crop of young players we've got coming through and in the players that are here on this tour and who are desperate to make amends in the final Test at The Oval.
There's no question we haven't performed as we expected and we appreciate that in those circumstances we have to accept negative criticism from the media because we've had so much positive coverage during our success over the past two years.
But one thing I strongly disagree with is the criticism that's been levelled about players and support staff having their partners and families with them during this tour, and the debate surrounding that issue that has gone on in Australia and in England.
As a group, we have always placed a huge importance on family and while we're happy to cop criticism for the way we bat, bowl, field or prepare I believe it's unfair to suggest having families with us as a reason for our on-field efforts.
Some of the guys in our squad have schedules that have meant they've been at home for a total of three or four days since the Boxing Day Test last December – less than a week in more than seven months.
This tour, with the Tests in the Caribbean prior to the Ashes and the limited-overs series that begins immediately after the current Tests finish, totals four months.
There is no way, as coach of the Australian cricket team, that I am going to oversee a set-up that doesn't welcome wives, girlfriends, children and other family members when our players and staff are spending that length of time travelling.
Don't get me wrong.
We all know how fortunate we are to be representing our country at a game that we all love, and to have the opportunity to play in so many different countries.
But I can't think of any other sport in which the players are away from their homes and their loved ones for such long stretches of time, and as such we will continue to welcome families as part of any tour because it is simply unrealistic to expect them to spend those long periods apart.
We love having the wives and girlfriends on tour, we love having the children on tour, we love having parents and grandparents and whoever comes along to see their family members playing for Australia in international cricket.
Their presence also helps to provide a bit of normality during a long stint of travel, and I find it strange that this has only surfaced as an issue now when it's been like this for the two years that I've been coach.
In fact, wives, girlfriends and children have been part of Australia cricket team tours since Mark Taylor was captain 20 years ago and that is NOT going to change.
Steve Waugh had his family on the 2001 Ashes-winning tour // Getty Images
From my vantage point as coach, having players able to come back to their wives, girlfriends and children at day's end provides them with another important source of support, especially when things aren't going so well, and it's unfair to blame our results on their presence and influence.
So just to reiterate that point, as a coach and as a team we fully support having the wives and partners and families as part of our group and that's not going to change.
The other talking point to have created headlines over recent days stems from our captain Michael Clarke's decision to retire from Test cricket and some of the criticism that he's been subjected to since making that announcement.
Michael deserves the chance to go out with the respect and dignity that he has undoubtedly earned over a fantastic career, and I want to see that career suitably celebrated.
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He is one of a select group to captain Australia in Test cricket, a role that he earned with his performances in all conditions.
As we've seen throughout that career, Michael is one of our most committed trainers who will go to the nets every day even when we have optional sessions or give guys a day off, and on practice days he'll travel to the ground early with the support staff who go ahead to get everything set up.
He has also played every tour match both here and in the West Indies since the start of this trip in late May so we have encouraged him to miss this week's game against Northamptonshire so that he can go to London, spend some time with his family and prepare for his final Test match.
As a coach and as a selection panel, we know how much pressure and scrutiny comes with the job of captaining Australia's Test team and we want him to enjoy some time with his family who have come over to see him play his final Test.
It's similar to the approach we took with a number of players after the Lord's Test, when we thought a break was the best possible preparation for them.
Over the four months of this tour I think there will only have been five or six days when the squad has been given a day off.
And when we do that, we would prefer that they get right away from cricket and spend the day doing whatever it is they want to.
We spend a lot of time in each other's company, from functions after Test matches that are solely for the team to lunches like the one we had for the group when we arrived in Nottingham, and even the gym sessions for players and support staff that leave me feeling sore for days.
Steve Smith's post from a team lunch in Nottingham // Instagram
But there comes a time when people also need to be able to do their own thing.
Some have criticised us for that as well, and we know we are in the public eye but there are times when you need to switch off and just relax.
Even on the occasions when we've lost Test matches in three days, I don't see the value of scheduling extra training sessions.
I can assure you the guys have trained as well as I've seen during the course of this tour but we just haven't been able to show that under the pressure of a game and I believe that flogging them with extra training day in, day out would just have a detrimental effect.
Having said that, we are back to training at Northampton today before the three-day game that begins on Friday and then on to London for the final Test where we hope to send off Michael with a win, and hopefully with him posting a big score.
From there, we enter a new era of Australian cricket that everyone in our set-up is really excited about.
We know that we have let ourselves and the people of Australia down in this series, but like the game itself we need to move on and be ready for the next challenge.