MELBOURNE (AFP) – Australia’s sloppy catching is down to a lack of confidence, coach Darren Lehmann said Wednesday, calling for better at next week’s final Test against India in Sydney.
The hosts drew the third Test in Melbourne on Tuesday to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, but Lehmann said dropped catches in India’s first innings cost his team dearly.
Australia set the tourists a 384-run victory target off just 70 overs, but India hung on to be 174 for six when both captains called the match off with four overs left.
Lehmann was upset by a series of spilled catches in India’s first innings which enabled the tourists to restrict the first innings deficit to 65 runs. Australia dropped three catches with spinner Nathan Lyon bungling a regulation two-handed head-high chance off his own bowling when Ajinkya Rahane was on 70. He went on to make 147.
Shane Watson put down Virat Kohli (88) at first slip off Mitchell Johnson and the vice-captain went on to score 169, while substitute fielder Peter Siddle dropped a two-handed chance off Lokesh Rahul, although the debutant was out off Lyon’s next ball.
“Shoddy at best,” Lehmann told reporters. “We’ve done a lot of work and I can’t complain about the work ethic from the lads, but the big ones that cost us were the first innings.
“We dropped Kohli and Rahane and that cost us dearly in the back end of the game. Catches win matches.”
Lehmann said Australia’s drops in the field were not down to a lack of practice under fielding coach Greg Blewett, but rather confidence.
“It’s not volume or practice, they’re very good at that,” he said.
“It’s probably more confidence to be honest, I’ve been really pleased with the work ethic. They’re catching brilliantly in practice.”
Lehmann said former Test batsman Blewett had been working the players hard in fielding drills to get an improvement.