Cricket

Darren Lehmann confident in support of Michael Clarke

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Australia coach Darren Lehmann will give struggling captain Michael Clarke "as long as he needs" to turn around his poor form.

Australia are 2-1 down in the Ashes after losing the third Investec Test by eight wickets in a three-day hammering at Edgbaston.

Clarke averages just 18.80 this series and has a top score of 38 in his last ten innings against England, leading to serious questions over his future.

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At 34, with a string of injury problems behind him, there are even suggestions this could be his final tour.

Clarke himself quipped that Australia were playing with 10 men at present, but Lehmann rallied behind his skipper.

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"He'll get as long as he needs, he's captain," said Lehmann.

"We're not going to panic, that's for sure. But he's got to play well.

"I can't complain about the work ethic of any of the players, Michael especially as captain.

"He sets the tone and raises the bar of what you need to do to play well at this level."

Whether or not Adam Voges gets the same amount of leeway is less certain.

The 35-year-old hit a debut hundred in the West Indies earlier this year, but hopes that his vast experience in county cricket would help him in this series have not come to pass.

England have had little trouble picking him off and an average of 14.60 in three Tests may persuade Lehmann and touring selector Rod Marsh to swing the axe.

"We'll sit down, Rodney and I, and speak with the captain on his wishes. We'll make a decision from there about what we think the best XI is," he said.

"Adam would be disappointed, like the other players are. It's a disappointing game for us and we've just got to cop the criticism we cop and get back on and work out what the best XI is to win the next Test match."

Lehmann also confronted the controversial decision to retain Peter Nevill for the third Test ahead of veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Haddin missed the previous game due to his daughter's health and, although Nevill performed impressively at Lord's and again in Birmingham, there have been reports of disquiet in the squad about the situation.

Given the personal nature of Haddin's withdrawal, it was felt he might be handed an immediate return.

"We've talked about it openly," Lehmann said.

"We all love Hadds, the players love Hadds, so everyone's going to have different emotions but that's part of professional sport and we try and deal with it as best we possibly can.

"It's comfortably the toughest decision we've had to make. I know there's been a big hoo-hah about 'family first', well we still have that."

"We certainly care about Brad and his family but we had to make a decision on what we thought was the best XI for this particular game.

"The cold hard facts are Hadds played the last 12 Test matches and made 250 runs at 15, with 16 bowleds out of 21. It comes down to the performance."

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Topics:
Michael Clarke
Australia cricket
The Ashes
Cricket

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