Australia head coach Darren Lehmann has lauded Steven Smith’s batting as ‘Bradman-like’ and said the 27-year-old Australian captain has potential to become of the great modern Test captains.
Lehmann said, apart from his prolific batting feats in conditions where Australia have historically struggled, it is the way he has led the team and conducted himself across the tour that has made the difference.
“He’s been brilliant. He’s been unbelievable. He’s been Bradman-like with the bat but all the stuff behind the scenes has been exceptional,” Lehmann said of Smith. “Really pleased for him and what he’s brought to the team as a leader. The way they’ve gone about it has been impressive.
“He helps support staff out. Behind the scenes, he’s into it every day, making sure everyone is okay. He’s a different leader to Michael [Clarke], to Ricky, to Taylor, to Waugh. And he’s working out his own identity as a captain. Everyone is proud of him. So pleased with where he is going. He’ll just get better and better.
“They’re young, they’ve been up against it, the pitches have been as we would expect. There’s a lot of learning in this group over this tour. They’re all hurting and disappointed for the result but I’m really pleased with the effort and the attitude at trying to change the way we play here. He’s led from the front, the captain. Three hundreds in four Test matches is pretty special.”
Smith finished the India tour with 499 runs at an average of 71.28 from four Tests, including three centuries — becoming only the second visiting Test captain after Alastair Cook to smash three tons in a series. He also offered an apology for letting his emotion taking control of him at times during the recently-concluded series, in a sharp contrast with his opponent skipper Virat Kohli.
Lehmann also added the 27-year-old has the ability to surpass the former Australia captains and that the way his have fought throughout the series is admirable.
“They have been excellent. There have been difficult conditions there is no doubt about it. They haven’t whinged once, they’ve been just getting on with the game,” Lehmann said. “They’ve copped a lot from Indian media and that’s just the way it is over here. I’ve been pleased the way they have handled it.
“We have decided we are going a different way about the way we play. Obviously, we’re less aggressive than we have been in the past. And I’m pleased with the way they have gone about it. The young group will grow. They will get better.
“We weren’t good enough in this series, there is no doubt about that. We missed big opportunities to win the series. But if they keep learning and keep growing and keep getting better, it is a group that can play a long time together. That’s the pleasing thing.”
Mark Waugh, Australia’s national selector, was also impressed by his team’s incredible resilience in despite the series loss and said every player stood up in one way or another.
“To be one-all going into this Test match, if you said that before the start of the series you would have been pretty happy. We like to win, of course. But the positives are it’s been great viewing and Test match cricket has probably been put back on the map a bit,” he said.
“Obviously in this Test match we haven’t played quite as well, but there’s been a lot of positive signs from the Australian camp,” Waugh noted, following Australia’s eight-wicket loss in Dharamsala. “Individuals have done well so we can take a lot of confidence from playing well in conditions where we don’t normally do well.”
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