Lehmann critical of Shield wickets


Australia coach, Darren Lehmann has expressed a desire to see more variation in pitches during the domestic Sheffield Shield season.

In years gone by each of Australia's state wickets had different character's.

Perth had pace and bounce, Brisbane had a green top, Sydney favoured spin, Melbourne had variable bounce and Adelaide was a mixed bag but in recent times the pitches have become more standard and tend to favour batsman and quick bowler's.

Australia have struggled to cope with spin on the tour of Sri Lanka, suffering successive defeats to a Sri Lankan team that got outclassed in England, and Lehmann feels his Aussie batsman need to learn how to play on different surfaces in order to succeed around the world.

Lehmann said: "I think we have said for a while that we would like the Shield wickets to go back a little bit in time where they are all different,

"You had Perth which was grassy and bouncy and went through and swung, and Brisbane seamed and Adelaide reversed and spun and Sydney spun from day one.

"All those things we would love to see happen, but the problem we've got now is we've got drop-ins at a couple of grounds, so it's hard to do.

"You would love that to be the case but you are living in a different world and so it's a bit harder. In terms of Test wickets, whatever we get we'll trust the curators to do the best they can. I think you see it has been pretty fair in Australia for a couple of years but there is no reason it can't improve either."

Experiments are underway to improve the variety that can be produced on drop-in tracks, with Adelaide groundsman Damian Hough, leading the way after developing drop-in pitches specifically for pink-ball cricket.

Australia now feel the need to be proactive in the way they play, and prepare: "We have had those discussions already,

"It's probably him going 'I have to change', thinking he can play a certain way, and change in other ways. So, that's learning the game, isn't it, and trying to adapt. But being proactive is the key to having good success in the subcontinent, not being reactive."

While the coach agreed with Steve Smith that the selector's needed to pick players who can play spin, he conceded that things weren't that simple: "Totally agree,

"The interesting thing, though, if you have a look at our summer and the way our batters played, if we didn't take any of those batters, how would we be viewed in the press? It's always tough. We haven't had the success, now we have to look outside the square."

While Australia will have to look at changes for the third Test against Sri Lanka and the tour to India, Lehmann indicated poor performances on the tour won't count against players for selection at home.

The coach added: "Everyone in the squad will be considered, that's what happens when you don't have the results you would like, we will need to have a look at the wicket, sum it up and go from there,

"You don't like dropping anyone, you feel for them when they don't play as well as they would like. That's the hardest thing as a coach and a selector – you have to make tough decisions sometimes.

"We are playing a Test match in tough conditions; [we will] pick the best XI for that and then worry about the summer when we get home. It won't hold against anyone, this is a squad that we think is right. Obviously results show different and say different but we have to make sure we are picking the best XI to play."