Ashes lure drives Lehmann to repel young Lions

Published: Tuesday, November 23, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Adelaide:Senior batsman Darren Lehmann, under threat to hold down his place in the stellar Australian cricket team, said he has no intentions of retiring from the game.

Lehmann, whose selection ahead of Simon Katich for last week's first Brisbane Test against New Zealand received a mixed reception, only scored eight as Australia thrashed the Kiwis by an innings and 156 runs at the Gabba.

The 34-year-old left-hander, who said last month in India that he was willing to stand aside in favour of outstanding young talent Michael Clarke, on Tuesday denied media speculation that he intended retiring after this week's home-town Test in Adelaide against the Kiwis.

"I heard that," Lehmann said at a press conference of the retirement rumour.

"But I'm definitely not retiring. If I'm enjoying cricket, I'll keep playing and I am certainly enjoying playing cricket these days.

"There are no thoughts about that (retirement) at all."

Lehmann said the lure of going on his first Ashes tour to England next year was irresistible.

"I have never been on one and it's something every cricketer aspires to, so I'd love to be on an Ashes tour," he said.

"And that is the whole goal - try and get there and play in a full Ashes tour, so that is where I'm at at the moment and hopefully I'll get there."

Lehmann's batting form has tapered off since a golden run of five centuries in a 12-month period up to early this year and currently his Test batting average stands at 46.69.

Lehmann, who had to give evidence at the manslaughter trial of former Test cricketer David Hookes last week, conceded he was under pressure to retain his spot in the Australian side.

The continued form of left-hander Katich, who was forced out of the Brisbane series opener after Lehmann returned from a hamstring injury, has cranked up the pressure on the player teammates call 'Boof'.

Lehmann said he would approach the second Test against New Zealand as if it was his last for his country.

"I think you have to do that anyway," he said. "With so many good players around Australia waiting in the wings, everyone in the side ... has to play well each and every Test match.

"There are so many players waiting who are out of the side - Simon Katich is one, Brett Lee is not in the XI at the moment ... so each one of us has to play well each and every time and that is a good, healthy thing to have."

Lehmann said he hoped playing in front of his own Adelaide crowd would help him return bounce back to form.

"Because it's a home Test, I really want to do well in front of my home crowd, family and friends - that is just a natural thing," he said.

"I have been feeling really well in the nets, I'd like to bat a bit better in the middle, obviously."

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