Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia head coach Darren Lehmann has announced that the national team are going to be “a bit rusty” heading into the ODI tri-series against Zimbabwe and South Africa.
This will be Australia’s first international matches in almost five months. But, it also marks the beginning of a very hectic 12 months for the Baggy Greens.
After the ODI tri-series, Australia will play a Test and limited overs series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. This will be followed by an ODI series against South Africa at home, a Test series against India at home, an ODI tri-series on home soil, the 2015 World Cup, a tour of the West Indies and an Ashes series in England.
“Professionally, everyone was tired – coaches were tired, players were very tired, and they did an amazing amount of work in 12 months,” Lehmann said. “So to get a break before we go on the road for two years was pretty important.
“Now the [challenge] is getting us back up to the skill level that we need to compete at international cricket. We’ve got Zimbabwe and South Africa and then we’ve obviously got a big test in the UAE. I think everyone is jumping out, they just want to play.
“We’re going to be a bit rusty with the skills, but that’s okay. We’re gonna make mistakes, but that’s okay. What we need to do is build and build and build to become a better Test side, a better one-day side, a better Twenty20 side.”
Lehmann also noted that batsman Phillip Hughes is not guaranteed to play during the series. Hughes was drafted into the side as a replacement for all-rounder Shane Watson, who injured his ankle when he stepped on a cricket ball during a training session.
“He’s in the squad and if he gets a chance I’m sure he’ll take it,” Lehmann said. “We have to find the right balance, whoever that is, whether that’s Phillip in or not in for the first game, we have to sum up the conditions. We have to make sure we get away to a good start, so we’ll be at full-strength early and then see what happens with the tournament from there, how the wickets play and whether it spins or doesn’t.”
Lehmann also defended his decision to drop pace bowler Clint McKay, who is Australia’s highest-ranked ODI bowler.
“In the last 12 months he hasn’t delivered with the new ball for us and his speed isn’t up to scratch for us and that’s the message we’ve sent to him,” he said.