Australia coach: Batting failure in Cardiff ‘minor hiccup’
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Don’t expect much change in Australia’s batting lineup, after coach Darren Lehmann called their failure in the first Ashes test “a minor hiccup.”
The top and middle order produced only two half-centuries as they were bowled out for 308 and 242 in losing to England by 169 runs at Sophia Gardens on Saturday with a day to spare.
Lehmann said his batsmen had been too good for too long for him to lose faith in them at the first hurdle.
“Our prep’s been excellent considering we came off West Indies, where the wickets were very similar, then the two tour games - so they were good to go. It’s a minor hiccup,” he said.
“We have to show the discipline required to make big runs on these type of wickets, and bat a lot longer. There was some good bowling from England, full credit to them, but our batters could probably stay in a little bit longer with (better) shot selection.
“That’s not good enough for the standard of our batters. They’re quality players, and they’ll come back well.”
He was disappointed with allrounder Shane Watson, who was trapped twice, for the 28th and 29th times in 59 tests. Lehmann regarded both decisions as tight calls, and said Watson was doing his best to fix his problem, but he added all of the main batsmen had a tough time in Cardiff.
Picking Watson ahead of the more in-form Mitch Marsh for Cardiff was “a tight call,” and Lehmann said they would wait to see what the pitch was like for the Lord’s test starting on Thursday before deciding whether to keep Watson.
Watson didn’t take any wickets either, but Lehmann said he was less concerned with his bowlers, even though there was a major doubt about left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc, Australia’s most potent bowler in Cardiff.
Starc’s right ankle bone spurs flared again in the test, and he needed painkillers to bowl 16 overs (for two wickets) in England’s second innings, and bat for an hour on Saturday, running well between the wickets.
Lehmann said there was no need to press Starc, if he was unfit, into action at Lord’s to salvage the series.
The alternatives to Starc were Peter Siddle, on his third Ashes tour, and Pat Cummins, who was quick but has been on a strict diet of limited-overs matches for two years.
“We’ve got enough armoury there to get 20 wickets,” Lehmann said confidently.
He was also certain his other left-arm quick, Mitchell Johnson, would rebound after match figures of 41-5-180-2. Johnson didn’t need to change his action for the less bouncy pitches, Lehmann added.
“He got better as the game went on. The way he got (Ian) Bell out (bowled his middle and off stumps) was quite exciting for us, and I would think Lord’s has more pace in it than this one,” Lehmann said.
“He’s a class bowler. From our point of view, he’s going OK.”
Australia will learn from the loss, it’s first in seven tests, the coach added.
“It’s a good short turnaround, an excellent opportunity to get back into it,” he said. “We’ll learn from our mistakes and play better next time.
“We know the conditions really well, we didn’t play them very well, but the bonus is we’re going to places that we’ve been to a couple of years ago, most of our guys, and know what we’re going to get, in terms of wickets.”