When it comes to saying the silliest things, this summer has been one of rare form from Australian Cricket coach Darren Lehmann.
Despite already spouting some of the oddest words to have ever come out of a coach’s mouth, this week he may have outdone even his own high levels of daftness.
Taking to twitter, in comments he has since deleted, Lehmann advised the Melbourne Stars that they should sack Kevin Pietersen, despite the fact the one-time England leading run-scorer is one of the Stars’ and the BBL’s most effective players.
The man whose job it is to help select the Australian Cricket team has again illustrated that his own abilities may not be suited to the job that he holds. Like when Brett Geeves questioned Lehmann’s comments regarding Matt Renshaw, the coach’s response has been an attempt to belittle the inquisitor rather than the more dignified approaches of ignoring or, heaven forbid, taking the criticism on board.
Stars’ President Eddie McGuire was quick to jump to the defence of his leading recruit, “KP is not the highest paid player at the Stars for a start, he has delivered in spades,” McGuire said. “The last three Big Bash Leagues, KP is second only to Chris Lynn for runs scored.” If Eddie, a part-time honorary servant of the game, has a better understanding of the abilities of T20 players than the Australian coach, perhaps we have an understanding as to why Australia is ranked sixth in the format.
While there is usually a nobility in a person defending their position, decision, or beliefs, Lehmann has an uncanny habit of being undignified, incorrect, or both. Nobody welcomes criticism, but unlike most other Australians, Lehmann is compensated rather more handsomely for the inconvenience brought by the inquiries of others. Rather than appreciating this fact and answering in a manner befitting his position, his default response to reproach is angry defiance and pettiness.
It is telling that Lehmann’s predilection, when challenged, is to immediately disparage the cricketing abilities of the person disputing his position. It is also bewildering on several levels, not least the fact that Lehmann and the National Selection Panel seem completely unable to hold any kind of opinion longer than it takes for them to change their socks. In fact, it seems the only time they ever feel strongly about any position they take is when someone points out its lunacy.
On the subject of inconsistency, only last month Glenn Maxwell was fined for having the temerity of sharing his opinion when asked about Victorian and Australian team selection. How is it that Lehmann can pass equally unedifying comments in a public forum without censure? The coach’s comments have the added kicker of being incorrect too. Or is this the actual crux of Maxwell’s fine, rather than speaking out, his crime was being correct when doing so? Is the Victorian’s punishment another in a long line of petty responses to the highlighting of the NSP’s flawed decision making?
Lehmann’s tweet has since been deleted without comment, let alone anything approaching an apology. However, despite his best efforts to channel a bad magician, the power of the delete tweet button has not removed the elephant in the room. That said, ignoring metaphorical elephants is something that Lehmann also has form in. Having not that long ago made clear that Maxwell’s Test Match aspirations were laughable, Lehmann has made no effort to explain the change of thinking that has seen the All-Rounder granted a ticket for the plane to India.
If the inconsistent, illogical, contradictory, and sometimes downright odd selection processes of the NSP was producing results, perhaps you could understand the angry refutation of considered but different opinions. By most accepted measurements it would be hard to argue that Australia is producing the level of results that would warrant this arrogant attitude from those responsible for selecting the side. That said, based on their unorthodox approach to making selection decisions, despite England having won three of the last four Ashes Series, perhaps they do think they’ve been successful?
The Lehmann era has seen Australia win 8 and lose 5 of the Test Series they’ve contested. A record reduced to 3 & 3 when only iconic series (England, India, South Africa) are counted.
With two such series’ ahead, the NSP and Lehmann should be well and truly on notice. Rather than angrily defend illogical opinions and selections, perhaps they should worry a little more about the on-field performances of the team.
Losses against India and England should see Lehmann and co join the rest of us in the cheap seats. I wonder how Lehmann will react to someone dismissing his opinion because he wasn’t a very good coach?