LONDON - England defended their approach to cricket after Australia coach Darren Lehmann said Monday they were a "dour side". Although England completed a third straight Ashes Test series win at home to Australia last month by taking a five-match series 3-0, they were criticised for an excessively defensive approach with both bat and ball.
Lehmann, speaking shortly before England announced their Ashes squad, was asked on a a BBC radio show hosted by former England captain Michael Vaughan, whom he played alongside at Yorkshire, what he thought of England's style. "Dour. It's not the type of cricket I'd play," Lehmann replied. "At times I'd like to see their over-rates picked up." Former Australia batsman Lehmann, parachuted into the coach's role just weeks before the start of the Ashes after South African Mickey Arthur was sacked. He had previously stoked the fire ahead of the return series 'Down Under' by accusing England's Stuart Broad of "blatant cheating" following the pace bowler's decision not to walk after edging a catch in the first Test at Trent Bridge.
Lehmann also called on the Australian public to make life so difficult for Broad during the Ashes rematch he will want to cry and go home. His comments saw him fined by the International Cricket Council while former Australia captain Ian Chappell said Lehmann had been a "hypocrite" as Australians, who've traditionally always waited for the umpire's decision, were in no position to complain about opponents who didn't walk. "I don't like to be called a cheat and basically he (Lehmann) is calling all people who don't walk a cheat, which would include himself," Chappell said.
England managing director of cricket Hugh Morris, responding to Lehmann's latest remarks, said he'd no problems with the brand of cricket played by Alastair Cook's side. "I'm really happy with our style," Morris said Monday at a Lord's news conference to announce England's Ashes squad. "Over the last five years our results have spoken for themselves. Over the last 12 months since Alastair Cook became captain we've played four (Test) series, we've won three and drawn one," the former England batsman added.
"That included a win in India, which was the first time (for England and where Australia were whitewashed 4-0 earlier this year) in 28 years, and a 3-0 win against Australia here (in England). "Our style and approach is looking to win important matches, which we've done consistently." England national selector Geoff Miller, himself a former Test off-spinner, said Cook's team were capable of adapting their game to different situations.
"Styles change in the conditions you play in, home and away, so we're happy with the way our style of cricket can alternate," Miller said of a side bidding to become the first England team since the 19th Century to win four successive Ashes series. Earlier, Lehmann reiterated his belief that Australia had found "cracks" in England's top-order with number three batsman Jonathan Trott, who struggled for runs during the recent Ashes, an example.
"We've found England cracks and worked out plans," he said. "We've made some inroads (getting into Trott's head), and I hope that continues," Lehmann added. "He's a good player. But I think we've worked out plans, which seem to work for most of their batters. "In terms of knowing their batters back to front, we've got that down."