Smith, Warner to lead way for Aussies

Under new management ... Australia's David Warner and Steve Smith (right). Photo: Saeed Khan/AAP Image.
Under new management ... Australia's David Warner and Steve Smith (right). Photo: Saeed Khan/AAP Image.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann has put the onus on his senior players to drive the rebuilding phase this summer, beginning with the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba starting on Thursday.

Lehmann took over the Queensland Bulls from Trevor Barsby in the 2011-12 season and had instant success, guiding the team to that summer's Sheffield Shield title.

He said the key to rebuilding this Australian side - after the retirements of Michael Clarke, Ryan Harris, Brad Haddin, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson - would be to trust his leaders Steve Smith and David Warner.

"I'm more excited about David Warner and Steve Smith rebuilding the side. The players will do that - we'll just guide them along and prep them the best way we can," Lehmann said.

"But all the staff and players are excited and looking forward to catching up. It's exciting times."

Part of the rebuilding process will be the development of all-rounder Mitch Marsh in the No.6 batting spot.

The 24-year-old struggled in that position on the slower seaming English decks during the 3-2 Ashes series defeat in July and August.

"We'd love him to make more runs," Lehmann said.

"His bowling has come on, we've invested some time in him and we think he's a quality player.

"He's young, and if you look at all the all-rounders who have played the game, they've averaged between 30 and 35.

"The more opportunities he gets to play under the pressure of international cricket the better he will become."

 

Joe Burns
Joe Burns

Lehmann also said Warner's experience (43 Tests) would help new opener Joe Burns, chosen to replace the retired Chris Rogers.

Like Warner, Burns is a stroke-maker and likes to take the attack to the opposition.

"His (Burns' first-class) record at the Gabba is exceptional and that probably got him over the line over someone like (Cameron) Bancroft who was in our discussion," Lehmann said. "I'm expecting him to play well and if they both get going it'll be exciting."

Lehmann backed Burns and Usman Khawaja (nine Tests) - despite their five-day inexperience - to get on top of New Zealand's excellent new-ball quicks Trent Boult and Tim Southee.



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