It began with Lehmann taking the batsmen onto the outfield at Trent Bridge on the first morning of the first practice day of the first Test in the summer 2013 series.
“If you see a spin bowler SMACK IT”
Lehmann turned and walked away, leaving a trail of silence, an empty syringe and the tell-tale sign of Waugh’s finest stem cells oozing from its needle tip.
“A bit of the old 1990 vintage, Third Man”
“They don’t call it Hunter Valley for nothing, Your Grace.”
Now, it’s a question from an old team mate, from his days playing in the Lancashire League for Lowerhouse – after play; Old Trafford.
“Ryan, tell me how you do it? The batsmen have let you down. You’ve gone for 300 and more in the day. There’s half an hour to go. You’ve bowled your three spells. Your body’s broken. Knees feel like they’ve been severed. The skipper tosses you the ball AGAIN. You run in. You take out two poms. Tell me, tell me, please tell me, how do you do it?”
“Mark,” he answers, “it’s my job.”
Lehmann had taken the ‘quicks’ to the Statham End. “Scare the shit out of ‘em.”
Again he turned, leaving behind a cocktail of Lilley and Thompson.
“I fell in love with the Ashes when I was seven years old.”
“I can still remember watching in awe on television in Whyalla when David Hookes smacked five boundaries in a row off Tony Greig in the Centenary Test at the MCG.”
“That was it for me.”
“You see, Third Man, cricket is penultimately an expression of culture. England cricketing culture is sclerotic. Australia … Australia retains the knack of staying a young country. It’s about the facility to regenerate.”
“Darren, what was in that syringe?” the Squire had asked, taking the Australian coach aside.
“Penulimately, Your Grace?” TM enquired.
“It may be in the small print, but it’s there in the job description; ultimately it’s about courage.”
“Didn’t Clarke bat well!”