New Delhi, March 29: Putting to rest all the speculations over Darren Lehmann’s future with the Australia cricket team after the ball-tampering row, the coach announced on Thursday that he will step down from the position after the final Test against South Africa. Also Read - CSK vs MI Dream11 Team Prediction Dream11 IPL 2020: Captain, Vice-captain, Fantasy Playing Tips, Probable XIs For Today's Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians T20 Match 41 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium 7.30 PM IST October 23 Friday
“Darren Lehmann announces this will be his last Test as he is stepping down from his role as head coach,” Cricket Australia tweeted. Also Read - COVID-19 Vaccine Ready, To Be Announced in Weeks, Says Trump In Final Presidential Debate
Having watched the emotional press conferences of Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft earlier today, Lehmann said now was the time for a new coach of the national side. Also Read - Will Schools be Reopened in Delhi This Year? Latest Developments You Should Know
The 48-year-old was yesterday cleared of any wrongdoing in the ball-tampering scandal. The fourth Test at the Wanderers will be his last Test in charge.
“Saying goodbye to the players was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Lehmann said according to Cricket Australia.
When asked his proudest achievement as head coach, Lehman was concise, and pointed. “I would say the way we dealt with Philip Hughes’s passing,” he said. “We’re only playing a game.”
Lehmann was installed as head coach just weeks out of the 2013 Ashes series in England after CA sacked South African Mickey Arthur, who oversaw the ‘homeworkgate’ affair in India, which led to four players being suspended.
While Australia lost the 2013 Ashes series 3-0, players said Lehmann had reunited a fractured group while simultaneously bringing enjoyment back to the Baggy Green, after the squad’s culture had disintegrated under Arthur’s watch.
Throughout that Ashes, the new mentor actually banned the word ‘culture’ as he looked to reinvigorate the set-up, recalling young batting gun Steve Smith and handing teenager Ashton Agar a shock debut in the opening Test as he looked ahead to a new era.
Five months later, Lehmann’s side regained the Ashes with a spectacular five-nil whitewash off the back of an inspired Mitchell Johnson, who repaid the faith of Lehmann and selectors by returning to Test cricket with 37 wickets to utterly dismantle a shocked England squad.
Lehmann played his part in another significant selection call in South Africa following the Ashes whitewash, when he dropped veteran seamer Peter Siddle for Victorian teammate James Pattinson for the deciding Test in Cape Town, which Australia won in dramatic fashion late on day five to wrest the world No.1 Test ranking from the Proteas.
A failed World T20 campaign and a two-nil hammering at the hands of Pakistan in the UAE were afterthoughts when Lehmann, his charges and the broader cricket world were rocked by the tragic passing of Phillip Hughes in November 2014.
A galvanised unit returned to Test cricket 12 days after Hughes’s death, winning an emotional match in Adelaide before going on to defeat India 2-0.
Australia relinquished the 2015 Ashes under Lehmann’s watch – continuing an away drought that extends back to 2001 – before a dominant run against New Zealand and West Indies was quickly overshadowed by another away defeat; this time a 0-3 loss to a lowly-rated Sri Lanka outfit.
The Australians’ losing streak went to five matches when they surrendered a home series to South Africa, with a devastating result in Hobart – in which the hosts were bowled out for 85 – precipitating mass changes.
Australia then won at home to Pakistan before losing a hard-fought series in India 2-1 – a respectable result against Virat Kohli’s team given their recent results on the subcontinent – then drew one-all in Bangladesh last September.
A 4-0 Ashes success this summer has been followed by chaos and controversy in South Africa, which has seen his players banned, fined, abused by the local crowds, which will be Lehmann’s last campaign behind the wheel.
The fourth Test will be played from March 30 and Australia will be led by their stand-in captain Tim Paine.
The wicket-keeper will be leading a side which will also see middle-order batsman Glenn Maxwell along with openers Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw, who have replaced Smith, Warner and Bancroft.