Lehmann extends coaching contract with Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Darren Lehmann has been rewarded with a new contract after bringing the Ashes back to Australia and dragging the national cricket team out of the doldrums, signing a deal through to mid-2017.
Cricket Australia’s team performance manager Pat Howard confirmed Lehmann’s one-year contract extension on Friday, saying the former test batsman’s influence on the team had been “immense” since assuming the coaching role in June, 2013.
Lehmann “has helped create an excellent team environment that has seen players thrive,” Howard said. “We want that to continue.”
Australian cricket was in turmoil when Mickey Arthur — the first foreigner to coach the national XI — was fired ahead of the Ashes series in England last year following a 4-0 test series loss in India and amid reports of splits and disharmony in the team.
England won that Ashes series 3-0 at home, but had some narrow wins. In the return series only a few months later, the Australians swept England 5-0 in such a commanding and comprehensive style that the coach and several high-profile players have either been fired or retired since. The Australian test team then won a series in South Africa as well.
“I am proud of what we have achieved so far,” said Lehmann, who is in the United Arab Emirates preparing the squad for two tests against Pakistan. “I want to continue with the work we have done on and off the field with the team, as I feel we are heading in the right direction.
“Better cricket in all formats is what we want.”
Only five months out from the World Cup, being jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, Lehmann’s squad is No. 1 in the limited-overs rankings and could overtake South Africa in the test rankings as well with a series win over Pakistan.
Lehmann has said his secret to success has been bringing the fun back into cricket for the national team, although he also demands discipline and the traditional, hard-edged Australian approach to the game.
“I will be judged by results, if the team is not performing then I am answerable,” the 44-year-old Lehmann said. “It’s been good, but there have also been some down times.
“Not being afraid to make mistakes, that’s the key.”