Australia’s head coach Darren Lehmann has formally extended his tenure until October 2019 but says he is likely to stand aside from the role at that point, bowing out after the national side’s 2019 Ashes and Cricket World Cup campaigns.
Lehmann’s contract extension was formally announced by Cricket Australia on Monday and locks the coach in for two years on top of his existing deal, which was due to expire in June 2017. Asked whether 2019 would be his last year in the top job Lehmann told reporters, “I would think it would be, yeah”.
In the meantime, Lehmann will continue to offer his assistant coaches periodic opportunities to take the reins, as he has done throughout his current stint as head coach. “We’ll give those guys opportunities along the way,” Lehmann said, “As I’ve always said, it’s the best job in the world. I love the job. But it’s a job you can’t do forever either. So whatever opportunities we can give to the guys along the way we certainly will do. And then it’s up the the board what they do from there and the high performance department.”
Cricket Australia’s executive general manager Pat Howard said the extension of Lehmann’s contract would offer the side stability heading towards their crucial campaigns of the next three years. “2019 is such a big year for Australian cricket and we wanted certainty and stability for the playing group with both the coach and assistant coach contracted as we build towards the Ashes series and the 2019 World Cup,” Howard said.
“Darren has had great success in the role and he and the national selection panel deserve a huge amount of credit for taking a relatively young side to No1 in the world in two of the three formats.”
While grateful for the show of support, Lehmann pointed to a series of looming challenges for his side and said there was still plenty to do. “There is still a lot I would like to achieve in the time I have left and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us especially with an upcoming Test series in India and a home Ashes series,” he said.
“I don’t just see my job as winning games of cricket. It’s about continuing to grow the game from the grassroots up in Australia, and helping to grow the game worldwide.”
Since Lehmann’s appointment – a hasty one following the shock demise of Mickey Arthur’s tenure in 2013 – he has taken both the Test and one-day international sides to the top of the ICC rankings, helped guide Australia to a 5-0 rout of England in the 2013-14 Ashes series 5-0, and won an away Test series win against South Africa and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.