Sez Les: It’s dangerous writing off those Aussies

Joe Root pulls James Pattinson in the First Test at Trent Bridge.
Joe Root pulls James Pattinson in the First Test at Trent Bridge.
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Favourites? We’re not really very good in this country at being favourites. Doesn’t quite seem a comfy fit whatever the sport.

We can be good at dismissing the opposition although, in view of England’s inability to get rid of Australia’s No 11 yesterday, perhaps that should be rewritten as... good at being dismissive of the opposition.

I was told many years ago never to write off Australia whenever they pitch up over here in The Ashes. No matter how poor they are perceived to be.

So, it was with some unease that I’ve heard so many doing just that. And there we were, writing them off again at 117-9, and everybody was chuckling and saying ‘told-you-so’ - until the last wicket pair, including that 19-year-old unknown, put on a century stand to overhaul England’s score.

The match marks another milestone in a remarkable 12 months for Sheffield’s Joe Root. He looked assured and composed in his first Ashes innings and didn’t seem to show any nerves.

It turned out to be a mixed day for the Roots though. About the time Joe was taking a very smart slip catch late on the first day, his brother Billy was batting for MCC Young Cricketers against Yorkshire 2nds. But he made only two. However, he had taken a wicket!

Incidentally, Root isn’t the only one in this Test with local connections. The mum of Aussie bowler James Pattinson comes from Wombwell.

Many reckoned Australia would benefit from appointing Darren Lehmann as coach a couple of weeks ago. There were lots in Yorkshire who thought it a smart move and they recall his nine years of playing success with the county and a guy who liked a pint and the social side.

My favourite Lehmann story follows on from the night Yorkshire clinched the County Championship title in 2001. A colleague here was in the Scarborough nightclub when legless Lehmann’s considerable celebrations ended with him being helped out of the club by his mates in the early hours.

Yorkshire were playing Notts in the Sunday League that day. Lehmann pitched up in the dressing room and his batting helmet was still on the bench with a mouthful of champagne sloshing inside.

He picked it up, swigged it back, put his helmet on and said: “Hold tight lads, you’re going to see something special.” They did. He went out and smashed an incredible 191. Whether he felt much like running barely mattered - he hammered 11 sixes and 20 fours which adds up to 146 of the 191 runs in boundaries!