The Lay-man for Australia
Homework, Punches, Sackings, Selections. It has all been very hectic for an Australian fan in the last few months. The amount of action taking place off the field for them has completely taken over and clearly distracted their on-field performance. Losing 4-0 to India was just the start of the volcano to erupt. Players being banned, sent back for not doing homework. You could sense that the players were tied up. And with Ashes around, as Ravi Shastri would put it, it was inevitable that something had to give and it did. Coach M Arthur sacked.
The decision for getting done with M Arthur was expected but it was more about the timing of the decision that surprised many. With just 2 weeks to go for Ashes. Australia looked like they have completely lost the plot. Darren Lehmann, Boof replaced Arthur and just like how he batted, did not waste much time settling. “Watson will open for us in the Ashes” First sign of the impact Lehmann wanted to make and he did well. For someone who was batting all-rounder to opener to number 3 to bowling all-rounder to captain, he had done everything. Yet it was not the Watson we knew. Lehmann showed confidence in him, backed him and Watson did repay with good scores in the warm ups. The fact that he was so happy to speak about the activities that had resided over the last few months showed how free and clear he was now in his mind. Watson did start aggressively in the first Test hitting boundaries, wanting to express himself, something he has been good that.
When you are written off even before the series it sort of releases a bit of pressure, knowing you are not expected to do well and so if you do, it will be there for the world to see. Backing players has always been one of the best ways to instill confidence in them and making them believe that they can succeed at this level. Lehmann did that by picking Hughes, Smith and you would say went over and played Ashton Agar over their preferred spinner Lyonn. All of them gave him equal returns when they bailed out Australia from being 53-4 to post 280 runs. Smith with his own technique survived when English bowlers were bowling batsmen in and out. He played a gritty knock for 53. Ashton Agar took got all the accolades and rightly so for stroking his way to a brilliant 98, the highest score by a number 11 batsman, fell just 2 short of a Maiden Test hundred on debut. In all the smiles and drama, there was Hughes who had done everything he could to hold one end and let Agar do the scoring. He played out everyone, ducked, swatted, drove his way to be stranded on 81. He did not look upset though, he was happy for Agar. Enjoying your teammates success is basic need to build a good team and Lehmann has just started to make the difference. England will still come back and may even win the game and the Ashes but rest assured this Australian team under Lehmann can only improve and compete better.