BRISBANE: Coach Darren Lehmann on Sunday urged former greats to get behind the Australian team for this week’s Ashes Test series opener against England following uproar over the selection of the squad.
Shane Warne led the chorus of disapproval of the 13-man squad, saying “Australia look confused”, while his former leg-spin Test bowling partner Stuart MacGill lashed the selectors as “morons”.
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine was chosen for his first Test in seven years and 34-year-old Shaun Marsh was recalled to the Test side for the eighth time in controversial selections announced on Friday.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, aren’t they?” Lehmann told reporters in Brisbane, where the first Ashes Test begins on Thursday.
“I’d just like all our players, ex-players, to be really positive about the Australian cricket team.
“Let’s just get everyone from Australia behind the Australian cricket team and let’s get moving forward.”
Paine is in the Test side despite not keeping in any of Tasmania’s three Sheffield Shield games this season and spending much of the previous season as an understudy.
Paine has not scored a first-class century for 11 years, while his first-class average, when playing, over the past three seasons is below 20.
Despite the 32-year-old’s lack of first-class cricket, Lehmann said selectors have seen enough of him to back him as the Test wicketkeeper.
Paine took five catches and scored a half-century as captain of a Cricket Australia XI against England in Adelaide earlier this month and impressed when behind the stumps for Australia in their Twenty20 series in India in October.
“We’ve watched him keep a fair bit,” Lehmann said. “Obviously T20s and the chairman’s game … he’s a high-quality keeper.
“I was very impressed with him down in the Adelaide game when he played against England. He’s been in good form with the gloves, as he always has been, and he has been very good for us in the T20s.”
The recall of 34-year-old Marsh has also drawn criticism and he is likely to bat at number six at the expense of an all-rounder in a conservative measure to shore up Australia’s suspect batting.
“We are really confident of where he is at as a player. He’s in good form, so he’ll do well,” Lehmann said.
“He’s pretty calm. He’s grown up a lot in the last few years and played some important knocks for us. He’s really confident within himself.”
Lehmann backed dumped opener Matthew Renshaw to bounce back from his Test axing.
The coach said the decision hinged on a combination of Test debutant Cameron Bancroft’s irresistible Sheffield Shield batting form and Renshaw’s struggles with Queensland this season.
“He was unlucky to miss out, it was a tough call. Obviously Bancroft with his runs just knocked the door down,” Lehmann said.
“But I’m sure he’ll (Renshaw) be back. He’s a really good player, he’s just in a bit of a slump at the moment but he’ll get out of that.”