Lehmann contemplates quitting to make room for rookie Clarke
SYDNEY: Darren Lehmann is contemplating sacrificing his spot in the Australian cricket lineup to ensure rookie Michael Clarke gets a place in the starting XI.
Lehmann, 34, averages 49.34 runs per Test innings and is the acting vice-captain in the ongoing series in India while skipper Ricky Ponting is sidelined with an injured hand. He said the 23-year-old Clarke, who scored 151 in his debut Test innings in the 217-run win over India at Bangalore last week, could be a future Australian captain and should be a regular in the national lineup for the next decade. “I have always said I would not stand in the road of a young player,” Lehmann told reporters after arriving in Madras for the second test. “It might be the case that I do stand down I haven’t ruled that out.
“I would think Michael Clarke, if I was a selector which I am not should play every Test for the next 10 or 12 years. That would be my opinion.” Lehmann’s comments appeared in newspapers across Australia on Wednesday, with editorial and opinion articles speculating on the personal cost to the left-handed batsman who has scored four hundreds and four half centuries in his last 15 test innings.
Lehmann said he’d speak with Australian selectors after the second test, starting Thursday. Both Lehmann and Clarke will play at Madras. But Ponting is expected to return for the third test, creating a logjam for batting positions and selection dilemmas for the top-ranked Australian lineup. Australia’s chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Lehmann’s comments didn’t mean he intended quitting Test cricket.
“It’s very typical of the way Darren Lehmann thinks,” Hohns told the Australian Associated Press. “He thinks of the team first. “It’s a noble gesture and very commendable but at the end of the day we will be sitting down to pick the best 11 players we can for that test match.” Earlier, Lehmann said it was Clarke’s maiden hundred that had convinced him that the New South Wales youngster would live up to his potential at an international level.
“If a guy plays a genius knock like that in the first innings of his first test and is earmarked by all of us to play well, you have to let him in at that stage,” Lehmann was quoted saying in Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper. “I have no problems in thinking I should play every game ... but then there also comes the other side of my head that says, `Hang on, we’ve got a kid that can play for 10 or 12 years’, and I’m all for that. “I would think he’s a bloke who could captain Australia in the future. If it is me that has to go, that’s fine.” Lehmann’s contract with Cricket Australia, worth an estimated 650,000 Australian dollars ($474,000), would be at risk next year if he isn’t a regular member of the national team. ap