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Post Lehmann, Australia need now more a worthy captain than a superstar coach

The Aussies clearly need a change in management in the grand scheme of things.

David Warner & Darren Lehmann of Australia
David Warner of Australia and Australian Head Coach Darren Lehmann celebrate. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

After Darren Lehmann’s decision to quit as the head coach of the Australian cricket team came to the fore, the obvious question was: Next what? After all the stormy affair during the Kangaroos’ third Test against South Africa in Cape Town which the visitors were “desperate” to win but instead lost their reputation earned over a lifetime, the entry for Lehmann’s successor was always going to be a newsmaker.

Cricket Australia (CA), which took a massive decision by banning the captain and vice-captain of their national team, who also happened to be their best batsmen, for a year doesn’t have any scarcity of option in picking Lehmann’s successor. But there is a big test to be overcome for sure and that is about credibility in the days to come. If one wants to know the first-hand feeling of how it feels to step into the shoes of an individual who has just deserted a burning deck, ask Shaun Pollock who had taken over the reins after those scary Hansie Cronje days.

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Australia has a number of names to choose from as their next coach – some of them really big. But it is here where the catch lies and CA would have to be careful about.

The risk of Australia’s current sides: They have far too many ‘ruthless’ cricketers to choose as guides

Australia has just finished an era of glory. Their journey that started under the iron leadership of Allan Border culminated into ultimate success in the eras of Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, and Michael Clarke (though to a lesser extent during Clarke’s time) and today, the country has a tremendously rich reserve of retired talents who can be picked any moment to chip in as the coach. The names of Ponting, Justin Langer and Jason Gillespie are already doing the rounds as Lehmann’s probable successor. The problem is: All these cricketers belong to an era when Australia did not settle for anything less than their opponents’ blood. Even as the media has been crucifying Lehmann for his ‘win, win, win’ mentality, it is not something that the left-hander had imported as his own innovation.

Under his captains in Steve Waugh and Ponting, it is only this ruthless ethos that players like Lehmann had imbibed. And don’t forget that Lehmann was still a non-regular in the side during his playing days.

There were names far bigger than him who played regularly and as ruthlessly for those invincible sides and given a chance, it is less likely that they would do their job with less intensity – the Sandpapergate notwithstanding. It’s a paradox that the killer instinct with which Australia nailed its opponents in the late 1990s and 2000s has come back to haunt its own performance today, in the late 2010s.

It’s being said that Ponting is a frontrunner for the coaching role. Given the man’s show as the captain, no one would be convinced that Punter would be a cool guy in the job no matter how accomplished his resume looks.

Then there is Gillespie who though has earned a lot of experience in coaching over the last few years, the man was no less temperamental during his days as a fast bowler. Another former player Justin Langer looked more amicable during his days of playing and has done well in his coaching stints, but he too is a member of the ‘never say die’ generations.

These former players were such great achievers during their prime that witnessing the slide of the Australian side in the current times would not make them content for sure. The Kangaroos, sans the service of Steve Smith and David Warner, would be in for a rough phase for sure and that could push the team’s psychological capacity to the extremes. Can the likes of Ponting, Gillespie or Langer lift a seriously debilitated team?

Australia would rather be happy to get somebody like Tom Moody as their coach now. A mid-level player who was not quite identified with the Baggy Green’s bulldozer mentality, Moody could be handy in giving the rudderless side the much needed in these restless times.

Somebody like David Saker or Trevor Bayliss can be more suitable?

But though Moody is not among the probable, the likes of David Saker or Trevor Bayliss who haven’t played cricket at the top-most level but have decent experience in coaching could be more suitable to lead Australia out of depression at the moment. The names of these two are doing the rounds and could be more than useful than the above-mentioned trio in doing the job. Two other names – former wicket-keeper Brad Haddin and batsman Chris Rogers – are also being discussed with both having considerable experience in coaching in domestic cricket in Australia and England.

Australia will need more a low-profile coach at the moment than a big name which attracts all the attention and retains them. In the past, it was Australia’s playing eleven which was more discussed in the media and expert circles while the coach largely remained a back-end operator.

After the Sandpapergate episode, the Australian coach too found himself in the firing line, perhaps because he is a representative of the time that made Australia a unit of heartless killers. In the era of Steve Waugh and Ponting, that ruthlessness was rewarded because Australia’s super-skilled players won the games decisively without pulling any suspicious object whatsoever. Now, with the skills dwindling but not the instinct to bury the opponents, the ill-wills have started making relevance and that is where the potential danger lies for another big name if it enters.

Australia needs to find at the moment more a captain to rise to the occasion more than a superstar coach. If Border could do in the past, why can’t somebody now? Is CA giving this aspect enough thought?

Take a look at how RCB will line up this season

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