The Ashes: Andrew Strauss says Darren Lehmann can lift Australia
By Oli Burley - @skysportsoli. Last Updated: 25/06/13 10:51am
Andrew Strauss: Believes appointment of Darren Lehmann could be a risk worth taking
Former England skipper Andrew Strauss says Darren Lehmann's appointment as Australia head coach could galvanise the tourists this summer.
Lehmann has replaced the sacked Mickey Arthur with immediate effect just 16 days before the first Test, at Trent Bridge on July 10, as Cricket Australia seeks to address "issues critical to a high-performing team culture."
The move comes three months after India secured a crushing 4-0 Test victory over Australia - who exited the recent ICC Champions Trophy at the group stage - and a week after opener David Warner was fined and banned for throwing a punch at England's Joe Root in a bar.
Reflecting on the decision Strauss, who skippered England to Ashes glory in 2009 and 2010/11, said that while Lehmann may have little time to work with the squad, the appointment is justified if Cricket Australia feels it will stop the rot.
"Darren Lehmann is very well respected in the game of cricket - he was a phenomenal player in the world game for a long period of time but couldn't really break his way into a strong Australian side," said Strauss, who is still backing England to win 3-1 this summer.
"He's still got a really good, shrewd cricket brain and he has started his coaching career really well.
"So it's a fresh start for Australia. As a coach and a captain you do have a bit of a 'honeymoon period' and his will come right in the middle of an Ashes series, which may just motivate the Australian players enough to see them turn around their run of bad fortune and performances.
"Is it ideal to change your coach two weeks before the Ashes? Of course not - in fact it's the last thing you want.
"But Australia obviously felt that they'd reached a stage where it was not sustainable to carry on in the way that they are going."
Lehmann, played 27 Tests and 117 one-day internationals for Australia between 1996 and 2005, and he has since been successfully involved with the Brisbane Heat and Kings XI Punjab as a coach.
"It's a challenge for all of the playing group. I'm excited by the challenge, looking forward to working with captain Michael Clarke and the team, and seeing them enjoy some success on this tour," Lehmann said.
"It's important to talk about the game whether it's with a beer or a Diet Coke.
"It's going to be an exciting journey for all the players and support staff and we'll meet that head-on."
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the appointment didn't take too much time to consider.
He added: "Darren Lehmann is to us the obvious choice to come in and replace Mickey.
"As a cricketer and a coach he has an outstanding record and is highly regarded within cricket circles."
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