• The Ashes

Attacking Swann was our plan - Lehmann

Brydon Coverdale
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He has been an exceptional bowler and bowled very well in England against us," Darren Lehmann said of Graeme Swann © PA Photos
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Australia's coach Darren Lehmann believes the ability of his batsmen to hit the now retired Graeme Swann out of the attack over the first three Tests was a major contributor in Australia reclaiming the Ashes.

However, Lehmann also said Swann had been a great bowler for England over his five years in the Test team and should serve as inspiration to Nathan Lyon, who like Swann is a regulation offspinner without doosras or mystery deliveries.

In England earlier this year, Swann was the leading wicket taker from either side when he collected 26 victims at 29.03, but in the return series in Australia on less friendly pitches he managed only seven at an average of 80. Notably, Swann also leaked runs at the alarming rate of 3.94 an over, easily his worst economy rate in any Test series, and it was the result of a plan from the Australians to take after Swann.

After Lehmann spoke to the press in Melbourne on Sunday, one journalist remarked to him that Swann's final act as a Test bowler was being taken for 21 off an over as Australia chased quick runs in the second innings in Perth. "Twenty-two," Lehmann corrected. He remembered clearly Shane Watson's three sixes and a four that fitted perfectly Australia's method against Swann.

"We had a plan for him in England but didn't execute it as well. We changed things around a little bit," Lehmann said in Melbourne on Sunday. "He's a big player when they've only got four bowlers, or now they've got five with Stokes in their side, and you have to try and take one or two of them out of the equation and make their quicks bowl more. That was certainly a plan from us.

"He's been a great bowler for England and he's obviously decided enough is enough and moved forward in his life ... They're obviously going to go down Monty's path in the next two Test matches so it's a challenge for our blokes to change the way we play against left-arm spin. He [Swann] has been an exceptional bowler and bowled very well in England against us."

Swann's ability to take 255 Test wickets since debuting at the age of 29 in December 2008 - no bowlers has accumulated more Test victims in that period - has revitalised the art of offspin in Test cricket, particularly for those bowlers who lack unusual variations such as the doosra. One such bowler is Lyon, who has collected 95 wickets in 28 Test appearances and said he had looked up to Swann.

"If Nathan Lyon takes 255 he'd be pretty proud of himself I would think," Lehmann said. "Graeme has had a great career and contributed to England wins for a long period of time. Nathan can take heart from that. They're obviously very traditional offspinners. From Nathan's point of view he's got a good career in front of him and it's up to him to grab it with both hands."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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