Lehmann apologises for manner of defeat

Australia

Australia coach Darren Lehmann has written a long piece on the Cricket Australia website, apologising for the way the side lost the Ashes, but refuses to apologise for families being allowed on tour, saying that will never change.

Lehmann addressed a variety of issues in his column, starting with apologising to fans for the manner in which they lost the series. With heavy defeats in three Tests, two of them inside three days, fans did not get their money's worth.

Lehmann wrote: "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.

"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, especially to those tour groups and individual fans who paid to travel to the UK to watch us and to the millions more tuning in at home.

"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."

He added of the consequences: "As a playing group or as a coaching group we are no different to other organisations – we're always trying to get better and we will conduct a full and frank review at the end of the series to identify what needs to change."

One thing he refused to apologise for was the presence of partners and children, after former wicketkeeper Ian Healy caused much upset when he said the families were distracting for the players and shouldn't be on tour.

Lehmann responded: "As a group, we have always placed a huge importance on family and 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.

"This tour, with the Tests in the Caribbean prior to the Ashes and the limited-overs series that begins immediately after the current Tests finish, totals four months.

"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."

The coach also addressed criticism levelled at skipper Michael Clarke, who will retire after the fifth Test, after some former players said Clarke was too abrasive, and that he didn't value the Baggy Green culture.

Lehmann said: "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.

"He is one of a select group to captain Australia in Test cricket, a role that he earned with his performances in all conditions.

"And during that time has led us to the World No.1 ranking in both Tests and ODIs, skippered us to a World Cup win and is our country's fourth-highest runs scorer in both those formats.

"As we've seen throughout that career, Michael is one of our most committed trainers who will go to the nets every day even when we have optional sessions or give guys a day off, and on practice days he'll travel to the ground early with the support staff who go ahead to get everything set up."

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