Lehmann waxes lyrical on Smith


Australia coach Darren Lehmann has offered high praise for team skipper Steve Smith comparing him to the great Don Bradman and lauding his work behind the scenes.

Smith has been in stunning form with the bat scoring three hundreds in four Tests in India and aggregating more than twice as many runs as the next highest run-getter for the Baggy Green.

Lehmann tipped the skipper to go on to great things and perhaps surpass Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor in esteem as a captain.

The coach said in India after the defeat in Daharamsala consigned Australia to a 2-1 series loss: “He’s been brilliant. He’s been unbelievable. He’s been Bradman-like with the bat but all the stuff behind the scenes has been exceptional.”

“Really pleased for him and what he’s brought to the team as a leader. The way they’ve gone about it has been impressive.

“They’re young, they’ve been up against it, the pitches have been as we would expect. There’s a lot of learning in this group over this tour. They’re all hurting and disappointed for the result but I’m really pleased with the effort and the attitude at trying to change the way we play here. He’s led from the front, the captain. Three hundreds in four Test matches is pretty special.”

When asked if Smith could become one of the greatest Aussie skippers Lehmann did not hold back his praise for the 27-year-old.

He replied: “Yeah I think so. He’s a cricket nuffie; loves the game.

“He’s passionate about the game, loves the game, loves his players.

“He helps support staff out. Behind the scenes, he’s into it every day, making sure everyone is okay. He’s a different leader to Michael [Clarke], to Ricky, to Taylor, to Waugh. And he’s working out his own identity as a captain. Everyone is proud of him. So pleased with where he is going. He’ll just get better and better.”

Lehmann is happy with the progress made by a young Australia team under the guidance of Smith and himself but admitted to being disappointed at missing out on a series win.

The coach added: “They have been excellent. There have been difficult conditions there is no doubt about it. They haven’t whinged once, they’ve been just getting on with the game.

“They’ve copped a lot from Indian media and that’s just the way it is over here. I’ve been pleased the way they have handled it.

“We have decided we are going a different way about the way we play. Obviously we’re less aggressive than we have been in the past. And I’m pleased with the way they have gone about it. The young group will grow. They will get better.

“We weren’t good enough in this series, there is no doubt about that. We missed big opportunities to win the series. But if they keep learning and keep growing and keep getting better, it is a group that can play a long time together. That’s the pleasing thing.”