It was a tale of two coaches at yesterday’s press conferences, as Darren Lehmann surveyed the wreckage of another catastrophic Ashes campaign with admirable frankness. In complete contrast, Andy Flower was able to talk about his legacy and his desire to go again one last time in 2015.
An ashen-faced Lehmann faced a hostile Australian media first.
“We’re a young team and the guys are still learning, but, despite what you’ve written, you must be able to see progress. In Brisbane, England bowled well to have us 6-132 but Swann ripped through our left-handers and we never really got back in that match. That set the tone for the series.”
“Aw look mate, I do think Matthew Wade was the right man for the gloves. Haddin had done well in England, but he’s 36 and, with George Bailey in the side to lend Pup the support he needs – that any captain needs – I felt it was time to move on. And I don’t accept that Bailey is just a six-hitting slogger who should stick T20s.”
“Mitchell Starc is another young player who will come again. Sure it hurts to hear the Barmy Army singing that song again, but that’s their right. Pidge may have been pushing for Mitchell Johnson to be recalled, but I sat down with Mitch after he had done well in the ODIs in England and India, and we decided that his future was with the white ball – especially with our World Cup just a year away.”
“Patrick Cummins is another bowler who can take away a lot of positives from his performances. I wanted to ask some different questions of the England batsmen – Sids is a great lad, but he played every Test in 2009, 2010-11 and 2013, and we know how they turned out. Pat will come again – though obviously he has a few months of rehab now.”
“Adelaide was a disappointment, because the captain was playing so well when he ran out of partners. And I don’t think the answer is to replace Ed Cowan at the top of the order with David Warner. Davey was disappointed to lose his place in the ODI team, but when we talked (and I know what his brother tweeted and I can’t discuss that until the court case is concluded), he understood that he would have to rebuild his Test career the way he built it first time round – coming through the T20 and ODI teams and making his case for Test selection. Ed and Phil (Hughes) know that they haven’t delivered, but they’re working hard to combat Swann’s spin and Onions’ swing – they’ll get it right.”
Lehmann couldn’t leave without hitting back at his detractors in the media. “Aw look – you guys have got a job to do, but Pidge and Shane are mates, fair dinkum Aussies, and to hear the things that they’ve been saying – well it disappoints me. Glenn was talking about 5-0 to England before they’d even declared at Brisbane and he’s still talking about it now. And Shane’s been barracking for the English from Day One too. Well, there’s as much chance of me forgetting my Australian roots as there is of me marrying Keira Knightley!”
At least the British media laughed.
It was all smiles too at Andy Flower’s press conference as he looked back on a perfectly conceived and executed plan to retain The Ashes and win the series.
“Losing Trotty was a setback, but we had known about his condition for a while now, so we were able to work with Carbs and Rooty pretty much from the end of the last series, knowing that they were our 1 and 3. The warm-up games helped and we were a settled unit going into The Gabba.”
“Of course, Graham Onions will collect all the headlines. His tight wicket-to-wicket line and seam and swing has been wonderful to see – there’s no higher praise than Glenn McGrath saying that he Onions reminded him of himself – but Jimmy and Broady have been brilliant too. With Jimmy swinging the new and old ball both ways and Broad making the batsmen jump about at the crease, it allowed us to release Swanny on the Australian left-handers. History shows how much he enjoys that.”
“Cookie may not have got as many runs as last time round, but he won all three tosses and got us batting first and posting big totals. The other senior batsmen have been magnificent – KP’s two hundreds, Bell’s, what is it, six consecutive scores over 75? And don’t forget Matty playing with such freedom to push us on over 500.”
“It’s not for me to comment on Australian selections, but we were surprised to see Haddin and Lyon dropped. Wade and Agar have got plenty of potential, but we always felt that we were in with a chance when they were involved.”
“I’m not sure about my future just now – other than the two Tests to come where we’re hungry for a 5-0. Sure I would like another crack at them in 2015, but that decision is out of my hands”.
After a few wry smiles from the Press at Flower’s reluctance to acknowledge his assailable position in English cricket, he left to a standing ovation from even the most grizzled hacks. Andy Flower can look forward to a very happy Christmas – the same cannot be said for Darren Lehmann.
You can tweet me at @garynaylor999.