Darren Lehmann Talks Port Elizabeth Collapse, Shane Watson Return

Australian coach Darren Lehmann has a lot of pondering to do ahead of Saturday’s start to the deciding third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

The Aussies put together a stunning second innings batting collapse in their 231-run loss at Port Elizabeth, reminiscent of last year’s embarrassing Ashes tour of England.

The Darren Lehmann, Michael Clarke-led side were forced to watch helplessly as South Africa’s pace attack dismantled the Australian top order on just the fourth day of action, ending the Test match before day five’s potential rain could save the visitors.

Alex Doolan, Shaun Marsh, Clarke and Steve Smith all departed within the space of four runs and less than four overs before the back end crumbled around opener Chris Rogers’ score of 107.

“They bowled very well and we didn’t cope with it well enough so we have to improve in that area, but with their high class bowling attack full credit to them,” Lehmann said after the Proteas were able to tie up the best-of-three series.

“I wasn’t pleased to be bowled out, in the manner we got out we got bowled out, in Durham we played some poor shots but they (South Africa) were too good for us,” he continued, comparing the innings to Australia’s pathetic defeat in Durham last year.

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With the deciding third Test just days away, Lehmann may look to include an underdone Shane Watson back into the best XI.

Watson is yet to play in the current tour due to a calf injury, but is expected to begin bowling training again on Monday.  

“As long as he’s bowling overs and he’s fit, we would love to have that extra bowler,” Lehmann said of Watson.

“We’ll have to wait and see. It’s a selectors’ conundrum … it will depend on the pitch.”

Doolan and Marsh are the two most likely to lose their spot should Watson return, but also worth monitoring are the fitness of pace bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, who bowled a combined 133 overs in Port Elizabeth. 

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Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

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