Sydney - Australia's coach Darren Lehmann took
responsibility Wednesday for the crushing Ashes defeat to England, saying that
his players were desperate to make amends in the final Test at The Oval.
Australia are 3-1 down in the series after a humiliating
fourth Test drubbing by an innings and 78 runs at Trent Bridge when the
tourists were bowled out for 60 before lunch on the first day.
"We have been poor, we have been outplayed by a
superior opponent, and as coaching staff, players and selectors we fully accept
the blame for our losses at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge," Lehmann said in a
column for the Cricket Australia website.
"On behalf of our team I want to apologise for the
manner in which we have lost, especially to those tour groups and individual
fans who paid to travel to the UK to watch us and to the millions more tuning
in at home."
Lehmann attacked the suggestion that the players' wives,
partners and families who had accompanied them on this tour had somehow
contributed to their lack form on the field.
"There's no question we haven't performed as we expected
and we appreciate that in those circumstances we have to accept negative
criticism from the media because we've had so much positive coverage during our
success over the past two years," he said.
"And while we're happy to cop criticism for the way we
bat, bowl, field or prepare I believe it's unfair to suggest having families
with us as a reason for our on-field efforts."
Lehmann said the reality of international schedules was that
some in the squad would have only been home for three or four days since the
Boxing Day Test last December.
"I can't think of any other sport in which the players
are away from their homes and their loved ones for such long stretches of
time," he said.
"And as such we will continue to welcome families as
part of any tour because it is simply unrealistic to expect them to spend those
long periods apart."
Lehmann also rounded on criticism directed towards captain
Michael Clarke, who announced that the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval would be
"Michael is one of our most committed trainers who will
go to the nets every day even when we have optional sessions or give guys a day
off, and on practice days he'll travel to the ground early with the support
staff who go ahead to get everything set up," he said.
He said the team hoped to send off Clarke with a win.
"From there, we enter a new era of Australian cricket
that everyone in our set-up is really excited about," he added.