Australia back Lehmann to keep them on top of the world

Australia coach Darren Lehmann.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann.
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DARREN LEHMANN has signed a contract extension to remain as Australia head coach until October, 2019.

The former Yorkshire batsman, who played 27 Tests and 117 one-day internationals, will oversee Australia’s next two Ashes series plus their Champions Trophy and World Cup campaigns.

Lehmann, 46, was appointed to the role shortly before the 2013 Ashes, which England won 3-0, after Mickey Arthur was sacked following a dismal tour of India.

The former batsman has enjoyed success at the helm, including leading Australia to an Ashes whitewash and World Cup triumph, both on home soil in 2013-14 and 2015, respectively, plus a Test series victory over South Africa in their own back yard.

However, his attempts to woo Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie to join his backroom team earlier this year met without success, with Gillespie confirming that he would not be applying for the role of Australia’s bowling coach.

Under Lehmann’s watch, Australia are the No 1-ranked side in the world in Tests and ODIs – despite a 2-0 defeat to Pakistan in the UAE and a 3-2 Ashes loss to England in 2015, along with the retirements of several leading players.

“2019 is such a big year for Australian cricket and we wanted certainty and stability for the playing group with both the coach and assistant coach contracted as we build towards the Ashes series and the 2019 World Cup,” said Cricket Australia executive general manager Pat Howard.

“Darren has had great success in the role and he and the national selection panel deserve a huge amount of credit for taking a relatively young side to No 1 in the world in two of the three formats.”

Australia have suffered a resounding 2-0 defeat to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and a 3-2 Ashes loss in England in 2015 under the watch of Lehmann, but despite the retirements of several leading players, they are ranked No 1 in the world in both Test and one-day internationals.

Howard continued: “What often goes unseen is how big a supporter Darren has been of the wider cricket system in Australia, and that is crucial to the long-term sustainability of Australian cricket.

“The commitment he shows to the role goes far broader than that of the Australian men’s team.”

Lehmann saw his side lose the first of three Tests in Sri Lanka on Saturday and said: “I am incredibly grateful for the support and faith the Cricket Australia board and the players have put in me. I absolutely love doing this job and as far as I am concerned, it is the best job in the world.

“There is still a lot I would like to achieve in the time I have left and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, especially with an upcoming Test series in India and a home Ashes series.”

Gavin Griffiths, George Edwards and Luis Reece will not be offered new contracts at Lancashire.

Pacemen Griffiths and Edwards were both part of the Red Rose side that won the 2015 NatWest T20 Blast, ending a 16-year limited-overs trophy drought, while batsman Reece played a prominent role in Lancashire securing County Championship promotion in 2013.