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Darren Lehmann urges Australia to grab 'big moments'

AFP
Sep 17, 2013 at 06:38pm IST

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Southampton: Australia coach Darren Lehmann has told his side they must "grab the big moments" if they are to regain the Ashes from England.

Australia's lengthy tour of Britain ended with a 2-1 one-day series victory over England after a 49-run win in the fifth ODI in Southampton on Monday.

But the main aim of the tour, regaining the Ashes, ended in failure following England's 3-0 win in a five-match Test series.

Lehmann urges Australia to grab 'big moments'

Australia coach Darren Lehmann has told his side they must "grab the big moments" if they are to regain the Ashes from England.

Fortunately for Australia, they have a quicker than usual chance for revenge with the return Ashes 'Down Under's starting in November after their one-day tour of India.

Lehmann, who arrived in Britain in charge of Australia A but who was promoted to the top job just over a fortnight before the Ashes after the controversial sacking of Mickey Arthur, insisted his team had grounds for optimism.

"We are very confident but we know we have got to improve in some areas -- especially with the bat," said Lehmann in a reference to Australia's penchant for top-order collapses such as the one in Durham which saw them lose the fourth Test by 74 runs.

"The way we played especially in the last three Tests we were very, very good except for two hours in Durham. We just need to be consistent and grab the big moments and we know that."

Lehmann added: "Everyone says it was a close series but we still ended up losing 3-0. If it doesn't rain at Old Trafford we win (the drawn third Test) and if it doesn't rain at The Oval we win (the drawn fifth Test) so it was closer than people think but at the end the result was 3-0 so we have got to improve.

"We know the conditions at home will probably suit us better than England but we have got to play better cricket," the former Australia batsman added.

He refused to read too much into a one-day series where rain led to two no results but Australia won two of the three completed matches.

"It gives us some confidence and we can go home and get back into the Indian one-day series and then the Ashes," Lehmann said.

Australia left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, not selected for the Ashes, starred during the one-day series, where he swung the ball at sharp pace throughout and finished with two wickets for just 21 runs in 10 overs on Monday.

Doubts though remain about his accuracy at Test level, especially if several Australia pacemen currently out with injuries remain sidelined for the Ashes.

However, Lehmann said: "Johnson bowled fast the whole time and as long as he is consistent that is all he has to do so I am really impressed with him.

"He has put a strong case (for the Ashes) but he has got to keep backing that up like every other player.

"He has got to go to India and we have got a couple of (Sheffield) Shield games before the first Test so that will be important for him to bowl well in those games."

Australia captain Michael Clarke, one of the world's leading batsmen, was named man of the one-day series for his century in his side's 88-run second ODI win in Manchester and 75 in Southampton, where his fourth-wicket stand of 163 with Shane Watson, man-of-the-match with 143, proved decisive.

Clarke though almost didn't play Monday amid fears he'd suffered a recurrence of the longstanding back problem that kept him out of the Champions Trophy tournament at the start of the tour.

"Today (Monday) he said he was fit to go and you take his word on that," Lehmann said of Clarke. "We'll get back home and check it with the medics and see how he goes from there."

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