Magazine Features

Taster: The Real Darren Lehmann

In our new issue Chris Waters, cricket correspondent of the Yorkshire Post, says there is much more to the man masterminding Australia's resurgence than fun and games.

the biggest misconception about Darren Lehmann is that he is the quintessential lovable larrikin. He is that too but his cloak of camaraderie conceals a steely underbelly – one that has underpinned Australia’s revival. Each day’s training may begin with a joke, told by a player or member of the support staff given 24 hours’ notice, and beers after play may be actively encouraged, but do not be fooled. Lehmann has put the fun back into Australian cricket but he still demands the highest standards of professionalism.

One has only to look at him to know that is true. The bald head and bulldog features suggest slouchers and slackers are barking up the wrong tree with Lehmann, just as anyone who greets him at the bar with the magic words, “What yer ‘aving, ‘Boof?’” is barking up the right one. Lehmann’s great skill is balancing the two, the fun and the serious, which he did as a player. As a coach he runs neither holiday camp nor boot camp – just a happy and relaxed camp in which players are treated like adults.

One man who knows him better than most is Anthony McGrath, the former Yorkshire and England allrounder. The pair were team-mates at Yorkshire for many years and travelled together to away games. “People have this conception of Darren smoking and drinking all the time but actually he was one of the most professional people I ever played with,” says McGrath, who remains good friends with a man who scored 8,871 first-class runs for Yorkshire at 68.76.

“Darren’s thinking and preparation was always first-class. He’d basically have his net on the way to the game, working out where the bowlers would be trying to bowl to him and where he’d score his runs. He always seemed to be one step ahead. People think he’s laid-back and fun all the time and, although he certainly enjoys that aspect, he was invariably the one who’d say something if something needed to be said in the Yorkshire dressing room. If he thought that someone wasn’t trying or putting in for the team, or not waiting behind after play and having a beer with someone who’d got a hundred or taken five wickets, he’d say so immediately. There’d be no letting it fester for a day or two. I know for a fact that when he took over as Australia coach he told them some home truths. If they didn’t want to buy into his philosophy, there’s the door.”

To read the full article pick up the March issue of The Cricketer from any good newsagents. Never miss an issue by subscribing here.

Posted by: Taster on 21 February 2014
Posted in: Magazine Features

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