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'Top-order must come good soon'

Nottingham, July 15, 2013, AFP:
Australia's coach Darren Lehmann stands on the balcony of the players dressing room before the first day of the opening Ashes series cricket match against England at Trent Bridge cricket ground, Nottingham, England, Wednesday, July 10, 2013. AP Photo

Australia coach Darren Lehmann has told his top order batsmen to up their game in time for the second Test against England at Lord’s starting on Thursday.

The tourists came close to a stunning win in the first Test at Trent Bridge before Ashes-holders England scraped home by 14 runs on Sunday to go 1-0 up in this five-match series.Australia’s tenth wicket pair were responsible for 228 runs at Trent Bridge, including a world record stand of 163 in the first innings that featured teenage debutant Ashton Agar’s 98 -- the highest score by a Test No 11 -- after they had collapsed to 117 for nine.

There was an improved showing second time around but had it not been for wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin’s 71 at number seven and some more tail-end resistance, England’s margin of victory would have been greater. This Ashes series was always likely to hinge on the performance of Australia’s top order and Lehmann, was in no doubt of what was required.

“Our tail has done really well over a period of time now but it’s time for the batters to make sure they’re making the runs,” he said. “I think we only batted for 64 overs in the first innings and 110 in the second.

“We’ve got to be reversing that about, batting for 120 overs plus in the first innings of a game and making our runs there,” said Lehmann, brought in just 16 days before the Ashes after South African coach Mickey Arthur was sensationally sacked by Cricket Australia.

However, Lehmann was at pains to point how side’s performance at Trent Bridge proved they were not as far away from England as some pundits had suggested before the series started.“I think they’re quite close -- a lot closer than people give them credit for, both sides. So, the key for us is to make sure we’re playing better.


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