The Telegraph
Sunday , March 30 , 2014
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Have only ourselves to blame: Darren

Dhaka: Darren Lehmann has blamed the players for Australia staring at elimination in the Super 10s of the World T20. “Our match awareness needs to improve in this format,” the Australian coach said.

Australia meet India on Sunday, but will be ruled out of the semi-finals if Pakistan beat Bangladesh in an earlier match. “We beat ourselves in the two games... It’s as simple as that… Obviously credit goes to Pakistan and the West Indies, but we should have won both those games. We have only ourselves to blame… We weren’t good with the bat in both these matches,” said Lehmann.

“We got 178 against the West Indies, but we didn’t bat very well. Our top-six got to shoulder the responsibility for that, because of the timing of their dismissals more than anything else… It’s all about learning. But in this tournament and in this format, you can’t afford to learn. You got to win,” explained the coach.

Lehmann refused to agree that their inability to tackle the spinners led to their debacle. “No weaknesses there… Spinners didn’t get us out. We got ourselves out. We got a lot of work to do in that area, like any other area… Fast bowling, playing short pitched stuff... Certainly this is no different. The wickets here haven’t spun as much as we thought, so that’s no excuse for our batters.”

Despite the losses, he remained optimistic of their chances against India. “We were lucky enough to play some decent one-day cricket against India in India, last October. We know them very well, they know us very well… so it’s going to be a challenge for our bowlers and batsmen to put in a complete performance. If we do that, we can compete with anyone in the world.”

He agreed it was a disappointing end to a great summer, which included Test series victories in Australia and South Africa. “Obviously disappointing... Because we played such good T20 cricket back home and in South Africa, just before we came here,” said Lehmann.

“I think the skipper (George Bailey) summed it up pretty well. We were probably 70 per cent in all three departments. It’s a good learning curve, but as I said, you got to win those games. We’ve got to be on your mark in each and every format… You find out about certain players in pressure situations which is good and bad for a coach and a captain. But at least you learn.”

What is the job of a coach at this level? “Teaching players and setting game plans. Bit of both… Teaching and making the team win,” remarked Lehmann.

“If you don’t win, you get booed... We teach players what to do, but our match awareness has got to improve from the last two games... We have been very good at that over the last six months and the players are learning… So we are very happy with that. This is an honest group, George has led them very well. So no drama there... We’ll keep learning. That’s the way it is.”

The poor form of Brad Haddin has also come into focus. “His keeping has been poor. That’s okay. He won’t mind me saying that. He is honest enough for that,” said Lehmann.

“He has been fantastic for a long period of time for us. He took a great catch and missed a couple of opportunities. At the end of the day, he has been exceptional and will be disappointed with his own performance more than anything else.

“That’s not hiding from the truth. He is one of our better performers. A couple of our experienced players like David Warner and Shane Watson haven’t made the impact that we would have liked.”