Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who resigned after watching three of his players get lengthy bans for ball-tampering, says his teams were misrepresented by the media.
In a rare interview since he stepped down last March, Lehmann said his players played within the spirit of the game during his tenure at the helm.
But he added, without a hint of irony: ‘There were some incidents in some games that they probably pushed it too far.’
Australia’s attitude came under fire following the events of the catastrophic Newlands Test, which has led to a thorough investigation into the culture of the national men’s team, a new head coach in Justin Langer, and new skipper in Tim Paine, who took over from the suspended Steve Smith. David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were also banned after an acrimonious series which culminated in Bancroft using sandpaper to help the ball swing in the third Test at Newlands.
In the immediate aftermath, Lehmann said that perhaps Australia could look to a team like New Zealand for a blueprint on how to play the game competitively and in the right spirit.
But in an interview with Macquarie Sports Radio ― the broadcaster for whom he will commentate this summer ― he asserted that the Australians under his watch were not as bad as the media depicted, and that the banter on the field was considerably worse in his playing days.
When asked if he would change anything in regard to the way the spirit of the game was played by his charges over the past five years, Lehmann said ‘No’.
‘There was a lot of talk about the Australian team being over-aggressive and there were some incidents in some games that they probably pushed it too far,’ Lehmann said.
‘They got dealt with accordingly from the ICC and match referee when they crossed that line but the Australians play that way, in essence, a lot of the time. You want to promote the game fairly and play hard but fair on the field.
‘They’re not as bad as portrayed in the media.’
But the 48-year-old said there is a balance that must be found by the new leaders in the Australian team.
‘Playing like NZ will certainly help win the fans back over, and that’s important because we want kids playing the great game of cricket. But you also need to win, win a certain way.’
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