From the Dr NRL London correspondent
We are lucky enough to have the coach of the Australian cricket team with us briefly before the 2nd day’s play at the Oval.
Dr NRL: Good morning, Boof. You must be thrilled with the performance yesterday?
Lehmann: What’d you call me? I was only 15 minutes late, you dork.
Dr NRL Boof …
Lehmann: Oh, right, right, sorry. I must have misheard. I’m a little sensitive this morning. Watto and I had a big one last night and I’m afraid I’m waiting for the Beroccas to kick in.
Dr NRL: I take it you enjoyed Shane’s innings just as much as he seemed to?
Lehmann: Sure. It’s nice to see him raise the bat out on the field for a change. He’s constantly doing it in the change rooms, and that’s fairly impressive in its own right, but getting it right on the field is another thing.
Matter of fact, I’m a little surprised myself. I’d always thought we brought him along on tours so the other boys could hang off his dregs in the local nightspots. You know, like Brendan Julian. There’s many an Australian cricketer who owes him, let me tell you.
And just when you think he can offer us no more, he goes out and blasts that guy from The Castle all over the park. Who knew?
Dr NRL: Well, he did it in style, didn’t he? I think his 100 came off 111 balls, when Chris Rogers had faced an even 100 for his 23 …
Lehmann: Yeah, well **** me Roman, what was all that about? He was going on about pitch up and down, good balls, taking the shine off the ball, doing his job … I mean, someone get me a violin. I told him he needs to be more like Steve Smith. See his first ball? That wild swing outside off stump? That’s what I’m talking about. Let those cheating bastards know that he isn’t there to **** spiders.
Anyhow, I made him listen to a good half hour of Anthrax on the headphones as penance, and that seemed to steer him in the right direction because he had three scotch and cokes in about five minutes after that.
Dr NRL: Speaking of cheating, your remarks about Stuart Broad have made headlines worldwide. Are you aware that the Australian team through the years has generally not walked voluntarily?
Lehmann: Sorry, you’re breaking up, I might have to go …
Dr NRL: I’m sitting right next to you …
Lehmann: Right … Yes, well … he is, so there.
Dr NRL: And Chappelli made some interesting remarks about the good and bad decisions evening out, so why walk?
Lehmann: Who cares what some Italian thinks? I mean, seriously. Do they even play the game? How could you with a macchiato in one hand and a bocce ball in the other? It’s pretty clear, anyone playing against us should walk if they nick the ball.
Dr NRL: Ok … so anyway, tell me, have you been able to make headway into aligning personalities within the team and increasing team harmony?
Lehmann: Oh mate, maaaate. At first I had no freakin’ idea. Mickey Arthur didn’t leave me with much. I felt like Elton John on the Muppet Show. The only idea worth keeping was to rotate the Ashes to a tour of Zimbabwe. Now that’s a series we could win. But we were already here.
Anyhoot, after a case of Stella and a pack of durries I had a cacophany –
Dr NRL: Epiph –
Lehmann: It was like a massive light bulb went off inside my head that burned like a thousand suns.
Dr NRL: Wow, that sounds interesting. What was it?
Lehmann: I don’t know. I passed out on someone’s lawn and forgot.
That left me with bonding, and if anyone can bring people together, it’s me. My methods are watertight, or should I say, beertight. Beer is vastly under rated as a unifying force, and tried to distill it into this group.
My first move was simple, but pure genius – everyone has to call each other maaaate.
Dr NRL: Mate?
Lehmann: No – maaaate. It’s more personal and matey, with an air of mystery that generally invites a remark like “Well, what did you get up to last night hey, ayyyy?” Pretty soon, this subliminal messaging makes them think they actually are all mates. You can’t argue with results!
Then there are the regular games of Celebrity Heads. It caused a bit of friction at first because I’d always make Clarkey Watto, and Watto Clarkey. It took them until the end of the 3rd Test to work out the pattern, and they were always annoyed when they found out who it was.
The difference came when I told Clarkey he was Watto one night and to ask questions like “Do I have big muscles … Do I have a thick bat … Do I have a massive box?” and so on, then guess immediately it was Watto. It worked a treat. He was chuffed, and everyone became mates again.
Dr NRL: What about the nets, practice and all that?
Lehmann: Don’t be daft. Can I continue? You may learn something …
The other night I took them out to Stringfellows for an ‘off-site’, specifically to workshop the DRS. I can tell you, there were plenty of reviews that night, and I think we even mastered hot spot. You’ve never seen Watto challenge the DRS as successfully as he did yesterday. Coincidence? I think not, and I put it down to some quality time with some delightful Russians we met there who seemed generally interested in all the talk of Members’ Ends, and were very happy for us to show them how the bowlers grip the ball. I like bringing cultures together.
Usually, though, we stay close to the hotel and get on the Colonel Klink at a nearby watering hole. This is where the special Vitamin B comes in handy. Inevitably, once you’ve had a few lagers the durries are never far behind. The secret is not buying a packet, but approaching good looking sheilas and offering them a dollar for one. It’s a good conversation starter for some of the ‘greener’ chaps, but just let me just say, they’ve been getting more bang for their buck if you catch my drift. A bit of nibbling outside of off stump, and so on.
There’s nothing better than getting the team together in the morning to swap a few stories, piece together how you got home … it’s a wonderful thing.
Dr NRL: Well, despite the weather today, I’m sure you need to get back to the team –
Lehmann: Looks shabby. Do you know if Stringfellows is open during the day?
Dr NRL: Nice chatting, I hope to catch up again soo –
Lehmann: Hey, come back, ayy! I’ve got more. Ayy!