Australia should have considered other options instead of promoting assistant coach Darren Lehmann

Darren Lehmann was recently named as assistant coach to the Australian side, in spite of being a relatively new coach with limited experience, but has now been promoted as coach © Getty Images

By Adrian Meredith

So Australia have correctly dumped Mickey Arthur, but they did not even attempt to find the best possible coach to replace him. Instead, they just promoted the assistant coach, Darren Lehmann to the role. 
Why not go on a hunt for the best coach? Why not consider all of the best coaching options in the world?
Australia always had an Australian-born coach. Arthur was the first ever not born in Australia. And it didn’t work. His methods of elitism and extreme levels of discipline ultimately didn’t work, as Shane Watson and others rebelled against it and it ultimately fell apart. 
So, suffice to say that any non-Australian born coaches will not be considered.
Let’s go over all of the coaching candidates out there, both the Australian-born coaches with international and state experience as well as those that are yet to get to that level but for other reasons could be considered.

Geoff Marsh: He has previously coached Zimbabwe during perhaps their most turbulent ever time, when Andy Flower and Henry Olonga quit, and still managed to continue there when Heath Streak’s father was kidnapped so as to force him to play, when Grant Flower (Andy’s brother) was captain, and when there was an increasingly political element, trying to make the team all-black, which ultimately failed. No matter how Cricket Australia treats him, he will know how to cope with political elements. He has also been Sri Lanka’s national coach for a short period recently before being sacked. In this turbulent time in Australian cricket, where they are trying to blame everyone but themselves, he is going to cope better than most. As a player, he played during Australia’s worst ever time, in the mid 1980s and was ultimately dumped when better players came along, but still managed a very lengthy Test career, simply because there wasn’t anyone better around. He knows all about going through tough times. In these tough times, he would be a very good choice. 

Rod Marsh: He has been the head coach of the Centre for Excellence for years and years, and when he hasn’t been head coach, he has been an interim coach. He was Ricky Ponting’s coach and helped to mould him into the player he would later become. He has coached half of this team at some point or the other. He has also been involved in some nasty political aspects, such as his fight with Greg Chappell as a coach. Some people, though, think that Rod Marsh started the problems, and hence that may be against him. As a player, he was nicknamed “Iron Gloves” because of just how bad he was at keeping wicket, yet got to keep his place in the side because of his friendship with players. Given that the team has had major wicketkeeping issues of late, with at least two major choices (Brad Haddin vs Matthew Wade) but also maybe a third (Tim Paine), he could have been good. But the fact that Rod Marsh wasn’t very good at the time himself may make him a poor judge of character. Most people in the know think that Marsh would ultimately be too controversial and would divide the team.

Greg Chappell: At the time that he played, he was Australia’s best batsman, and was the coach for years. But he led Australia during a time of great controversy. He went off to World Series Cricket in order to get more money, and he quit at the same time as Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh, which helped to lead Australia to a five-year period where they were the worst they have ever been. His decision to make his brother, Trevor Chappell, bowl underarm in that one-day match against New Zealand was so unsportsmanlike that it may never be forgotten. He has led state sides as a coach and has been involved in the Centre for Excellence and all of that led to him being named the Indian coach — where he got rid of the great captain Sourav Ganguly, and tried to get rid of Sachin Tendulkar. Since then, he came in and tried to get rid of all older players from Australia, pushing for Phillip Hughes just because he is young. If he was named coach, you can be sure that anyone over 30 would be dumped on the spot and he would persist with 20-yearolds even if they stunk. He may persist with Michael Clarke but Watson would go, at least from Tests, never to return. If they thought that Arthur was bad, Greg Chappell would be worse. Much more controversial than Rod Marsh.

Tom Moody: He studied coaching when he was still a player and was player/coach of Worcestershire in England while he was still playing. He soon graduated to regular coach and, 12 years later, still holds the post of Director of Worcestershire cricket. He was favoured to take over as England coach but instead moved over to coach his own Western Australian state cricket side before taking over as Sri Lankan coach with great success. Wherever he goes, he commands respect. When he is not coach, he is an advisor. He has great knowledge of the game, and, importantly, of coaching. As a player, he was a bit hit and miss, and played both as batsman and bowler, and occasionally all-rounder. Usually he played a pinch hitting role, as he could whack it a mile, and in the right conditions his height made him a great bowler, but usually he was easily punished. He is regarded as one of the best coaches in the world, let alone Australia — and right now is available.

Allan Border: He has no coaching experience, but was Australia’s best ever captain and was also a very good selector. His history as a player would automatically gain him immense respect. Even without any coaching experience, it is generally expected that he would do very well. He also led Australia through their worst ever time into their best ever time and knows how to do it again. He was a major part of the Argus Review and is a commentator now with great insight. He is also reportedly keen to take over as Australia’s national coach.

Steve Waugh: He has no coaching experience, but was a captain of Australia who has been widely regarded as an all-round nice guy. He has a great love affair with India though and is probably more likely to want to coach India than Australia.

Mark Taylor: Was a very good captain who was in many ways a “professional captain”, as his own personal performance dropped significantly when he took over as captain — going from best batsman in the world to not deserving his spot in the team. Tactically he was better than. As a coach ,Taylor would be better than Border. He has yet to coach to a serious level and is instead entrenched in the commentary team. He has been asked a few times about coaching though and is considering it.

Darren Lehmann: He is the highest ever run scorer in the Sheffield Shield, but that is largely because he barely played for Australia, but should have. He averaged well over 50 throughout his First-Class career but for Australia he struggled, especially in Tests. Almost immediately after retiring, he took over as coach, initially as assistant coach to David Hookes for South Australia but when Hookes was killed by a bouncer, Lehmann took over, with great success. Lehmann was recently named as assistant coach to the Australian side, in spite of being a relatively new coach with limited experience. He has now been promoted to a full Australian coach. Perhaps the best thing that he brings is humility. In spite of his immense talent, he was given very little chance, because of just how good the Australian cricket team was at the time. 

Dav Whatmore: He was born in Sri Lanka but always lived in Australia and even represented Australia in seven Tests and one ODI. He was made Sri Lanka’s coach and led them to their first and only World Cup win in 1996. After that, in 2003, he was made Bangladesh’s first ever national coach, for four years, with limited success. Recently, he has been named as Pakistan’s national coach. He has never been fired as a coach, and is very well respected, and known as one of the best coaches in the world. He currently has a commitment to Pakistan but could perhaps be tempted to go back to his homeland of Australia. 

Jamie Siddons: The second of three Australian coaches of Bangladesh, Jamie Siddons was coach for four years from 2007-2011. He is currently a coach of a domestic side in New Zealand. As a player, he is third in the Sheffield Shield run-scoring list, behind Darren Lehmann and Jamie Cox, yet played just one ODI for Australia. Like Lehmann, he knows about suffering. Unlike Lehmann, though, he has no idea about overcoming adversity — just of suffering. One might expect that under him the Australian team may continue to slide down, but at least accept their fate in doing it.

Stuart Law: The third of third Australian coaches of Bangladesh, Law was coach for two years in 2011-12. As a player, he had an amazing First-Class record, but played just one Test, making 54 not out in his only innings (therefore having a Test average of infinity). He played 54 ODIs though but his average of 26.89 doesn’t make good reading. At one stage he threatened to defect to England so that he could play internationals but ultimately he was too old by the time he made that decision. He might be a good coach, who knows, but his temperament is going to be under big question.
(Adrian Meredith, an Australian from Melbourne, has been very passionate about cricket since he was seven years old. Because of physical challenges he could not pursue playing the game he so dearly loved. He loves all kinds of cricket – from Tests, ODIs, T20 – at all levels and in all countries and writes extensively on the game)