'Lack of authority'

Chloe Saltau told Cricket Writers on TV that the arrival of Darren Lehmann has lifted spirits in the Australia camp.

Last Updated: 01/07/13 at 17:54 Post Comment

Lehmann, 43, took over as the Antipodeans' head coach last week following the dismissal of former incumbent Mickey Arthur just 16 days before the opening Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

Saltau believes Arthur - who axed Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson for a Test in India earlier this year after the quartet failed to complete a team assignment - did not have complete control of his players.

But the journalist, who writes for Australian publication The Age, says other members of the Cricket Australia hierarchy, including skipper Michael Clarke, must shoulder some of the blame for the nation's recent struggles in international cricket.

"I texted a high-up figure in Cricket Australia when Lehmann was appointed and asked: 'Why now?', and they said: 'To win the Ashes', so there probably is an element of panic in it," said Saltau.

"But it feels like a masterstroke because there has been a dramatic change of mood from a week ago when there were lots of tense meetings and it was a very tense environment.

"The issues had been bubbling along since the India debacle and while I suspect most of the players thought Mickey was a good man, he seemed to lose his authority.

"And the David Warner-Joe Root nightclub incident was the last straw as it showed that the disciplinary issues hadn't been resolved.

"However, everyone in a leadership position is under scrutiny; Clarke hasn't put a foot wrong on the field but he hasn't been able to embrace his senior players and bring a team together that is suffering without Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey."

Issues

Saltau's fellow Cricket Writers on TV pundit, Sun scribe Ali Martin, believes Lehmann, who played 27 Tests and 117 ODIs for Australia between 1996-2005, could galvanise the Baggy Greens with his "beer and fag" mentality.

But the Independent's Stephen Brenkley is sceptical that the former Queensland coach will guide Australia to their first Ashes triumph since 2007, suggesting that there are plenty more problem areas for the men from Down Under to fix before they fire on the field once again.

"There is a spring in Australia's step and a song in their heart [after Lehmann's appointment] but it doesn't mean they will win the Ashes," said Brenkley. "England are still the better team and will win the series quite comfortably if they don't take their eye off the ball.

"When Australia were pushed from pillar to post in the last Ashes series they had a naval-gazing procedure called the Argus Report which identified cultural errors in the Australia set-up, but they clearly haven't been addressed.

"There aren't enough good players coming through - they have some good bowlers but their batting looks wretched - and while Lehmann may be the elixir, I don't think he will be.

"There is something not quite there at the moment [in Australian cricket]."

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