Lehmann expects Ashes heroes to be back for 2019 defence

National coach Darren Lehmann is confident the core of the Australian team that regained the Ashes urn will still be around in 2019 when they aim to retain it in England.

Captain Steve Smith has already spoken to selectors about the next series where his men will be aiming to become the first Australian side in 18 years to win the Ashes on foreign soil.

Australia’s crushing victory in Perth means that eight of the past nine Ashes battles have been won by the home nation, a trend also seen on the broader international stage.

Despite the ease with which Australia defeated Joe Root’s side, history suggests the job will be much more difficult next time. Michael Clarke’s Australians destroyed England four years ago, only to hand the urn back just over 18 months later when senior players Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris and the captain himself found it a bridge too far to cross.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan is among those who believe Smith’s team is more accomplished than Clarke’s and will get the job done in England.

The difference this time is the key men, such as Smith and the star pace trio of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, will still be in the prime of their careers, while David Warner and Nathan Lyon – at 32 – should still have plenty to offer.

England, however, have doubts over the futures of veterans Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad, who have struggled this series, while James Anderson will be 37 by the end of the next Ashes.

“They’re young enough to play for a few years together and that was the key 12 months ago, even though we’ve changed some of those younger players,” Lehmann said of his team.

“This group can hang together for the next 12 to 18 months and we’ve got to always evolve and get better at how we play and who we select and see where we go.”

Gaining experience in English conditions was seen as pivotal for future campaigns after the failure of 2015 in which Australia’s batsmen were unable to handle the swinging Dukes ball.

In a bid to have players better prepared for 2019, Cricket Australia introduced the Dukes ball for the second half of last summer’s Sheffield Shield and will do so again this summer when the competition resumes after the Big Bash.

Test newcomer Cameron Bancroft is believed to be close to finalising a deal to return to county cricket next year, veteran Shaun Marsh has penned a two-year deal to play with Glamorgan in 2018-19 while brother Mitchell has sacrificed a massive pay day in the Indian Premier League to play with Surrey.

Their participation in the Old Enemy’s domestic first-class competition will rile England management, who seldom have their players lining up in the shield.

The younger Marsh, a controversial replacement for Peter Handscomb in Perth, made a stunning return to the Test side, silencing critics with a career-best 181. Lehmann, however, wants Marsh to do more with the ball and asked him to reproduce the goods with the bat in Melbourne.

“The challenge for him is to back that up again to be perfectly honest. One innings doesn’t make a cricket career. For him, he’s got to back that up next game and do the right thing and continue to make runs,” Lehmann said.

“I thought his bowling was a little bit disappointing, which he spoke about with me the other day. He’s got to get his bowling right, his fielding right and his batting and if it all comes together that’s fantastic.

“Mitchell went back to refine his game a little bit, worked with some different people, and just looked like he enjoyed himself out there and that’s the key to those sorts of guys, those all-rounders.

“You have all-rounders in any team if you can. That was obviously really hard on Pete missing out in this game, but the way Mitchell played was exceptional and really drove us to that total.”

Marsh’s outstanding performance in Perth continued a hot run for selectors, whose bold calls in picking Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine and Bancroft have proven on the money.

“It’s a tough, thankless job, it’s just pleasing those guys get the credit where it’s due to be perfectly honest,” Lehmann said.

“We were just going with gut feel to be perfectly honest and really pleased for the players that they turned up and played really well. I was impressed with each one of those selections and the way they turned up in the series so far.”

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