MARTYN MOXON predicts former Yorkshire favourite Darren Lehmann will prove successful as Australia head coach – it just might take him a little time.
Lehmann leads his side against England at The Oval today looking to avoid a 4-0 series defeat in what has proved to be an increasingly difficult summer for a team going through a tough period of transition.
The South Australian was thrown in at the deep end less than three weeks before the current five-Test series started when he was chosen as the man to replace the sacked Mickey Arthur.
And it has proved to be a baptism of fire for the former left-handed batsman, who endeared himself to the Yorkshire supporters through an immensely successful nine-year playing career at Headingley, during which he played a significant part in helping seal the White Rose county’s last County Championship triumph in 2001.
His time at Yorkshire saw him score 8,871 first-class runs at a staggering average of 68.76. He scored 26 hundreds with his highest score of 339 coming during his last game against Durham in 2006.
His one-day record for the county was also impressive, averaging 49.33 over 130 games.
It was the format of the game in which he enjoyed more success on the international stage, although his Test average of 44.95 over 27 games would certainly be the kind of scoring welcomed by his team during their current malaise.
“Darren’s a great character, he loves the game, loves talking about cricket – he lives it, like we all do,” said Moxon.
“He’s had success in Australia (as a coach) and has done well at IPL as well so he’s got a good track record and I think he’ll do really well for Australia.
“He’ll be hurting now and he’ll be disappointed, but I think he’ll see this job more as a long-term project.
“I’m sure he would have been realistic coming into the job.
“I’ve spoken to him a little bit (since he took over as Australia coach), but I don’t want to bother him too much because I’m sure he’s got plenty on his plate at the moment – we’ll hopefully catch up more when they come up to Headingley in September for the one-day international.”
Lehmann initially cut his coaching teeth in the Indian Premier League, guiding the Deccan Chargers to the title in 2009 before going on to lead Queensland to the coveted Sheffield Shield in 2012.
While Lehmann may be experiencing initial pain as coach of Australia, former Yorkshire team-mate Moxon – who played alongside him in 1997 – believes the Australian is capable of turning around his country’s fortunes before too long.
With the current series long gone for Australia, the focus Down Under has already switched to the return Ashes contest this winter. Many Australians are hoping that being back on home soil will provide a telling advantage for the Baggy Greens after enduring a generally wretched summer in England.
Moxon believes Lehmann, while no doubt looking to end the series on a positive note over the next five days in London, will already be thinking about which players he wants around him back home, particularly with regard to his top-order batsmen, who have – Chris Rogers and captain Michael Clarke aside – failed to deliver consistently enough.
“The public perception (of Lehmann) is that he is a bit of a joker and that he likes a good time, but the bottom line is that he is a tough cricketer as well and he wants to win,” added Moxon.
“I think Darren will have that nice balance of helping the players relax and feeling part of the team. He’ll create that atmosphere where people are comfortable, but there will also be a steeliness about them and a desire to win, so there will be that good mix of being relaxed but also very focused.
“Mainly, though, he’ll be assessing players all the time and formulating the group he wants to take Australia forward.
“This will be a bit of a learning process for him over here and he’ll be stamping his mark for the series back in Australia because he’ll have worked out the players that he’ll want around him – and the ones that he doesn’t.”