London, Aug 12 (IANS) Australian coach Darren Lehmann tendered an apology on Wednesday for the team’s poor performance during the ongoing Ashes series in England.
Lehman was responding to stinging criticism after the Australians lost the fourth Test at Trent Bridge cricket ground by an innings and 78 runs inside three days. The visitors had earlier lost the first and third Tests and are trailing the five-match series 1-3.
“We have been poor, we have been outplayed by a superior opponent and, as coaching staff, players and selectors, we fully accept the blame for our losses at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge,” said Lehmann in a column on the Cricket Australia website.
“We don’t walk away from that responsibility, and we have been as up-front as we can over the past few days to explain that’s the case rather than try to find excuses. Not only do we want to be accountable for our efforts, but on behalf of our team I want to apologise for the manner in which we have lost,” he added.
“We understand how disappointing the series has been, and I can reassure you we are doing our very best as a group to identify the areas in which we need to improve in order to ensure we get better as a team.”
Lehmann has, however, dismissed suggestions that poor leadership by outgoing captain Michael Clarke and the presence of wives and girlfriends on the tour has contributed to the team’s poor show.
“Michael deserves the chance to go out with the respect and dignity that he has undoubtedly earned over a fantastic career, and I want to see that career suitably celebrated,” the former batsman asserted.
“As a coach and as a selection panel, we know how much pressure and scrutiny comes with the job of captaining Australia’s Test team and we want him to enjoy some time with his family who have come over to see him play his final Test.”
“While we’re happy to cop criticism for the way we bat, bowl, field or prepare I believe it’s unfair to suggest having families with us as a reason for our on-field efforts. Some of the guys in our squad have schedules that have meant they’ve been at home for a total of three or four days since the Boxing Day Test last December – less than a week in more than seven months,” he added.
“There is no way, as coach of the Australian cricket team, that I am going to oversee a set-up that doesn’t welcome wives, girlfriends, children and other family members when our players and staff are spending that length of time travelling. Their presence also helps to provide a bit of normality during a long stint of travel.”
He also said that the team could not be blamed for lack of effort in preparation and training during the tour.
“Even on the occasions when we’ve lost Test matches in three days, I don’t see the value of scheduling extra training sessions,” Lehmann remarked. “There are times when you need to switch off and just relax.”
The 45-year-old also stated that he continues to have great confidence in the future of Australian cricket, the coaching staff and the players.