Australian frailties not forgotten, says Lehmann

BEN HORNE
Last updated 07:45 06/01/2014

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Darren Lehmann insists Australia's batting frailties won't be papered over by the delirium of their Ashes celebrations.

The Australian coach admits his team will risk being put to the sword by Dale Steyn and South Africa next month if they fail to stamp out regular first innings collapses.

Selectors may consider altering the batting order and dropping George Bailey for the three-Test tour, as Australia looks to make a statement away from home against the world's No.1 side.

There will be a reluctance to change a winning team, but Bailey is under pressure after averaging 26.14 this series and producing only one first innings of substance.

Tasmanian Alex Doolan is in the box seat to earn a ticket to Africa after being picked in the squad for Sydney, while Sheffield Shield run-machine Phil Hughes could also be in the frame for a recall.

If a change is made, there's speculation Shane Watson could be dropped back down the order to No.6 after performing inconsistently at No.3 this Ashes series.

The bottom line is in every Test bar Adelaide, Australia lost cheap top order wickets and No.7 Brad Haddin can't be expected to come to the rescue all the time.

Lehmann is well aware his team can't get too carried away by 5-0 if they wish to return to the Test summit.

"Again we were 5-97 (in Sydney). We come up against South Africa away from home and we have to certainly improve our first innings batting," he said.

"If you want to be the side we want to be we have to win away from home. Simple as that.

"We haven't done it for a while so from our point of view we have to start to win in different conditions that are difficult against quality opposition.

"We need to improve and raise the bar."

Lehmann says he's giving his side two days to celebrate before refocusing the squad for the one-dayers and then South Africa.

Opener Chris Rogers will take a month off, and it's unlikely fast bowlers Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle will do much bowling before the team departs for the rainbow nation on January 29.

Fast bowling ace Mitchell Johnson, injury-prone allrounder Watson and captain Michael Clarke are par of the Australian ODI squad which plays its first match on January 12, however Lehmann said it was important he "freshened a couple of blokes up."

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