New spin helps Boof Jnr emerge

10 November 2017
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Whether or not a Test debut materialises this summer, Jake Lehmann is beginning to emerge from his father's shadow

About the Writer:

Martin Smith is a writer for He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.

As Shaun and Mitchell Marsh have already found in their careers and Austin Waugh is just beginning to discover, carrying a famous surname in Australian cricket leads to the inevitable public scrutiny of the younger man and the attributes he shares with his decorated forebearer.

Such comparisons are undoubtedly repetitive and even tiresome for those involved and will only be quelled when, like the Marsh brothers have done and Waugh Jnr is attempting to do, the fledgling player begins to forge a career of his own.

And becomes his own man rather than just a 'son of'.

Jake Lehmann, like his father, representing South Australia // Getty
Jake Lehmann, like his father used to do, representing South Australia // Getty

In the case of another son of Aussie cricket royalty, South Australia's Jake Lehmann, the similarities with his famous father stretch far beyond just the family name.

Away from the game both have devoted their lives to, Darren and Jake Lehmann share an unashamed love of a "frothy" (beer) and Australian Rules football, while Jake's elongated speech carries more than an echo of his father's Australian drawl.

As a cricketer, Jake is just like his father; an attacking left-handed batsman and, as he showed briefly this past weekend, a part-time left-arm spinner.

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And with bat in hand, there's more than a hint of Darren in Jake's flourish when he connects with a cover drive, or in his footwork as he crunches a cut shot behind point.

However, one of Darren's greatest strengths as a batsman, his ability to play spin bowling, is not something that has been passed down to his son. In fact, it's been one of Jake's major weaknesses in the early stages of his first-class career.

But a noticeable improvement over the past 12 months and the uncertainty surrounding the side Lehmann Snr will lead in the first Magellan Ashes Test later this month has helped to suddenly vault the younger man into the spotlight.

"(Batting against spin) is something I've focused a lot on over the pre-season," Lehmann Jnr said on Wednesday after his double of 103 and 93 against Victoria pushed him into the discussion for the vacant No.6 spot in the Test side his dad coaches.

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"It was something I got out to a lot last year and when I was put under the pressure of playing spin, I wasn't able to find a way to get through.

"The way I played Fawad (Victoria spinner Fawad Ahmed) in this game was much better. I think it's going to take my game to the next level."

Recent history underlines Lehmann Jnr's fallibility against the turning ball; more than half of his dismissals last Shield season were to spin and all four of his innings in the past two Shield finals came unstuck against slow bowling.

But emboldened by the absence of injured spinner Jon Holland, who's dismissed him six times in eight innings in the past 18 months, the 25-year-old dominated bowling of all kinds in a player-of-the-match performance against the Vics that has thrust him into the conversation for higher honours.

Lehmann drives against Victoria at the MCG // Getty
Lehmann drives against Victoria at the MCG // Getty

Like his father in his pomp, Jake often opted for the unorthodox route to counter Fawad's leg-spin. Twice he audaciously paddle swept boundaries to fine leg and he even managed to reverse one to the rope at third man, just beyond the grasp of first slip.

Lehmann Snr was a master of the unconventional shot in his playing days; in today's game, the Twenty20 era, such strokes are common place.

Jake's improvement against spin hasn't been lost on his state coach Jamie Siddons, Darren's former domestic teammate who has boldly declared "there is not one person around the country who is putting their hand up (for a Test spot) any more than Jake Lehmann".

Lehmann Snr is one of South Australia's greatest ever players // Getty
Lehmann Snr is one of South Australia's greatest ever players // Getty

Given there's a list of No.6 contenders "as long as your arm", according to selector Mark Waugh, Lehmann Jnr would do well to cross the line first in the race for an Ashes berth having started the Shield season as a clear back marker.

But his impressive Shield double and the media attention that has come with it has brought into focus just how Lehmann Snr, a national selector as well as Australia's head coach, and his son could co-exist in the same team.

Such a scenario, should it eventuate, would be a first for the family; Darren has never formally coached Jake at any level, opting instead to let his son choose his own path in life.

But from the moment Darren flew more than 3000 kilometres overnight to present Jake his maiden Redbacks cap partway through Australia's triumphant World Cup campaign in 2015, the national coach has been officially excused from any selection discussions regarding his son.

Darren Lehmann presents son Jake his first SA cap // Getty
Darren Lehmann presents son Jake his first SA cap // Getty

And Jake insists his relationship with Darren has always been more about father and son than player and coach.

"I batted pretty well this week so I got a few nice messages saying 'well batted' and that he's proud," he told "It's as simple as that, really.

"That's all we really talk about. It's a really good relationship that we have.

"He's been away a lot, basically his whole life he's been travelling around. As I've grown up, he's become a good mate to me. We hang out and relax and talk about a lot of things.

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"The best thing about it is we keep cricket (talk) at the cricket most of the time. We talk about regular father-son things, we talk about footy and have a beer at the pub and watch sport and do everything else. It's a good relationship.

"He let me decide if I wanted to play cricket or not. I fell in love with the game and I enjoyed it. I was the one who chose to play cricket, he never forced it on me or anything like that.

"It's just the way the genetics are that I fell in love with it."

Lehmann Jnr concedes he's taken "a bit of a squiz" at the media hype surrounding him in the days since his MCG double. As a cricketer with a phone and an internet connection in the lead-up to an Ashes campaign, it'd be hard not to.

But having grown up in the glow of the media spotlight more than most of his contemporaries, he's learned to do what he did at the MCG this past week and let most of it go through to the keeper.

"All the articles and stuff, no one is saying you don't read them all," he says with a laugh. "And if there's a couple of highlights about, I'm definitely going to watch them.

"But I don't take anything personally. It's just social media, that's all it is."

A second Test player in the Lehmann family may not quite eventuate this summer or even the next. But with six first-class centuries and an average in the mid-forties, this son of a gun is slowly starting to emerge from his father's shadow.

And given Lehmann's Snr's standing in the Australian game, that's a worthy achievement in itself.

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

Gillette T20 INTL Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21