Darren Lehmann, Australia’s head coach, has hinted he is ready to wield the axe after another disastrous display from his team.
South Africa dismissed Steve Smith’s men for a paltry total of 161 on Day 4 of the Hobart Test to take an unassailable lead 2-0 in the three-match series. The hosts, who were dismissed for only 85 in the first innings, resumed the penultimate day of the second Test at 121-2 but lost the remaining eight wickets for only 32 runs to hand the Proteas a victory by an innings and 40 runs. This was Australia’s fifth straight defeat in Tests and their coach is well aware of the fact that he needs to make some tough calls to improve his team’s deteriorating fortunes.
Speaking to the reporters after the conclusion of the match, Lehmann said only Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are assured of retaining their places in the team while the others will have to prove their worth in the upcoming Sheffield Shield match starting Thursday.
Joe Burns, Adam Voges and Callum Ferguson scored seven runs between them in the match while off-spinner Nathan Lyon went wicket-less and wicket-keeper Peter Nevill scored only nine runs apart from missing a stumping.
“We’ve got to stop the rot, we’ve got to work out what the best XI is,” Lehmann said.
“Guys playing in this Test match, some were disappointed in their performances and they get the chance to play the Shield games to put their hand up.
“I thought Hazlewood was great, Starc’s getting back to his best and then you’ve got Smith and Warner. Outside of that everyone’s got to make some runs and take some wickets. It’s a really important four days of Shield cricket,” he added.
Speaking about the mood in the dressing room after the demoralising defeat, the former Australian player said: “Everybody is hurting in the rooms. I haven’t seen it as quiet after a loss and that’s understandable because of the performances. We pride ourselves on playing for our country and we haven’t done that well enough over the last three and a half days.”
He said former players were talking with the devastated players to boost their confidence.
“Mark Taylor and Shane Warne have been chatting to the guys one on one. Ian Healy, Tom Moody, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, we’ve had a lot of the legends come in,” he said.
“The young guys who are playing today looked up to them. It’s great to have them in the rooms and speaking to them.”
The third and final match of the series will start on November 24.