Adelaide - Australia coach Darren Lehmann said his players
"copped a lot" of criticism before they emphatically halted a run of
Test defeats against South Africa, adding that he'd love to keep his new-look
Lehmann said he was delighted for the experimental side,
which featured five changes including three debutants, as Australia's selection
gamble paid off in the third Test against South Africa.
The Australians ended a five-Test losing streak with a
commanding seven-wicket victory over the Proteas, after being well beaten in
the previous two games of the three-Test series.
"Well, we won," he said, when asked what the
difference was compared to the first two Tests, which left Australia on the
verge of their first ever home Test series whitewash.
"I'm just pleased for the players. The players have
copped a lot over the last few weeks and they've responded really well.
Obviously a change of players as well.
"You feel sad for the blokes who missed out in this
Test match but the guys who came in did a really good job... a new young group
going forward, really pleased for them."
Lehmann said the door wasn't closed for the players who were
dropped, but added that he'd like to keep the new group together -- if that is
possible, with varying playing conditions and peaks and troughs in form.
"You'd love to have continuity all the time (but) in
this day and age sometimes that's not possible," Lehmann said.
"But you'd love to keep a group together, a younger
group especially with David Warner being our oldest at 30.
"If you can keep the group together for five years or
so, or whatever it is -- until the older guys go -- it makes it easier.
"But then you've got different conditions and blokes in
and out of form. So you just have to sum it up along the way, but yeah it'd be
lovely to do that."
Lehmann's coaching role was under the spotlight during the
run of defeats, which prompted chairman of selectors Rod Marsh to step down
calling for some "fresh thinking".
One key criticism was the decision to rest fast bowlers
Mitchell Starc and John Hazlewood for the 5-0 ODI defeat in South Africa, with
Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis suggesting it gave his side a mental edge.
In Adelaide, Starc and Hazlewood hit form as they took 12
wickets between them to bowl Australia to victory in the day-night third Test
Lehmann said there were no plans to rest them for the
upcoming, three-match ODI series against New Zealand - although he wasn't sure
if they would play every game.
"(They will) play. We get in trouble if we don't play
(them)... They're going to play. At some stage," he said.
Lehmann added: "We gave them a break, didn't we? So
they should get through the (Australian) summer.
"But we got in trouble for that as well. You're damned
if you do, damned if you don't."
Straight-talking Lehmann also brushed off high performance
manager Pat Howard's call for him to "reinvent", saying: "I was
going to wear a suit to the press conference. I didn't.
"I chose not to."