Australia must raise their fielding standards: Lehmann

Perth, Nov 10 (IANS) Even though Australia completed an emphatic win in the first Test against New Zealand, coach Darren Lehmann is planning to work his players hard in training track in the coming days at the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) ground.

Lehmann identified shortcomings in the Australian bowling in the first match of the three-Test series at the Gabba which they won by 208 runs with two sessions to spare. The Australia coach also claimed that further work was needed to sharpen his team’s fielding, identifying recently recalled batsmen Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja as players who need to lift their intensity to meet the expectations of a top-ranked Test side.

Burns came under scrutiny for his fielding in the difficult role at short leg which requires cat-like reflexes as well as an unflinching preparedness to cop blows to the body.

Given its lack of appeal, the bat-pad fielding position is invariably delegated to the most junior member of the team and Burns was seen undergoing intensive tuition in the specialist position from fielding coach Greg Blewett, teammates and Lehmann before play during the Gabba Test.

While temperatures here, where the second Bank Test against New Zealand begins on Friday, are expected to soar into the high thirties over the weekend Lehmann has foreshadowed some heavy duty fielding practice in the lead-up to the match.

Asked to assess his team’s fielding in a Test that Australia dominated right from the opening session, but in which they muffed several straightforward chances, Lehmann answered brusquely: “Average at best”.

“Even our ground fielding, and we pride ourselves on that,” he said.

“So there’s a bit of work coming up for the lads. We could have stopped a lot more balls that we didn’t.”

Quizzed on his view of Burns’s effort at short-leg, where he missed a difficult chance from the first ball that NZ opener Martin Guptill faced in the Black Caps’ second innings, Lehmann gave no indication that the Queenslander would be moved elsewhere in the field.

“He (Burns) just needs work.

“We saw him out doing that (before play). He’s just going to have to do more work, (spend) more time on his fielding and probably Uzzy (Khawaja) to be fair. They’ve got to move better and field at the level you’d expect of international cricketers,” Lehmann added.

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