Lehmann confident in Smith

Published: Monday 29th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Australia coach Darren Lehmann has given short shrift to Stuart Broad’s suggestion that Steven Smith is a weak link in the Ashes.

England seamer Broad reckons Smith could struggle at number three this summer, but he made 111 in the tour-opener at Kent in a 255-run win for Australia.

And Smith travelled to England fresh from 199 and an unbeaten 54 in Jamaica earlier this month.

“I thought this sledging stuff was supposed to stop,” Lehmann said with a smile.

“I’m not too worried about that. He’s a pretty good player. I think he got 199 at number three the other week. I think he’ll be fine.

“You’ve got to be a good player to make runs and I think Steven Smith’s a good player.”

Lehmann has no interest in England’s four-day trip to Spain as he has plenty to ponder with his own side.

Next the tourists go to Chelmsford for a four-day game with Essex, which begins on Wednesday, while England are in Spain to get to know new head coach Trevor Bayliss.

Asked what England can achieve by their break, coming little more than a week out from the start of the Ashes in Cardiff on July 8, Lehmann said: “I only worry about us. We’ve got to worry about how we’re going to produce really good cricket in England, because we haven’t won here in 14 years.

“That’s our focus. We’re not worried too much about what England are doing.”

Lehmann named his team for Essex – David Warner, Chris Rogers, Michael Clark, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Nathan Lyon – and is pleased with the strength in depth in his squad.

He has the majority of his team for Cardiff in mind.

“We know the rough line up we want to go with, how that shapes up will still depend a bit on performance,” he added.

Chris Rogers will have the chance to prove he should open ahead of Shaun Marsh, while all-rounders Mitchell Marsh and Shane Watson can stake their individual claims as well.

Lehmann says seamer Ryan Harris needs to prove his worth and fitness, too.

He added: “He’s got to prove to us he can bowl 20 overs an innings and make sure he’s ready to go.

“If he can do that then he certainly comes into consideration.”

Australia had little trouble against the majority of Kent’s players, but Daniel Bell-Drummond showed his potential with 127 from 112 balls featuring 21 fours and three sixes.

The 21-year-old Londoner’s innings was compared favourably to Colin Cowdrey’s ton in Kent’s only victory over Australia since the 19th century, which took place 40 years ago this weekend.

Bell-Drummond described his innings as his best day in cricket “by quite a mile” as he earned the congratulations of Australia captain Michael Clarke.

“I’ll try to play like that all the time,” he said.

“I did pretty well for the England Under-19s, but I haven’t really kicked on as I’d have liked.

“Hopefully I’ve shown myself how I can bat and hopefully I can improve on the season going forward and get a lot more runs for Kent.”

Published: Monday 29th June 2015 by The News Editor

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