Coach Darren Lehmann has lashed reports he disregarded Cricket Australia’s family-first approach by not selecting Brad Haddin in the third Ashes Test.
Lehmann described the tough call on Haddin, which effectively ended the 37-year-old’s international career, as the hardest cricket decision he’d had to make.
Haddin was set to play the second Test, but withdrew for family reasons.
The 37-year-old missed the game to spend time with his sick daughter in a London hospital.
Peter Nevill scored 45 and snared seven catches at Lord’s, convincing selectors Rod Marsh and Lehmann he should stay in the XI ahead of an out-of-sorts Haddin.
Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden and Ian Healy were highly critical of the decision.
“The cold hard facts are he’s played the last 12 Test matches and made 250 runs at 15, with 16 bowleds out of 21,” Lehmann said.
“I know there’s been a big hoo-ha about ‘family first’ – well, we still have that.
“There’s been a very unbalanced view from a lot of people about it. We certainly care about Brad and his family.”
Nevill scored a polished 59 at Edgbaston, showing the sort of patience that his top-order colleagues couldn’t as England cruised to an eight-wicket win.
Yet, there were reports during the match the 17-man Ashes squad remained deeply discontented about Haddin’s snubbing.
“We’re really close as a group. We’ve talked about it openly,” Lehmann said, noting there were no guarantees for players who missed games for family reasons.
“That would be the hardest decision I’ve had to make as a coach, or even as a player.
“We all love Hadds. The players love Hadds.
“He’s a ripper bloke – one of the best blokes I’ve ever coached, brilliant person, great family.
“Everyone’s going to have different emotions with it but that’s part of professional sport and we try and deal with it as best as we possibly can.”
Haddin is renowned as the consummate team man and that reputation remains.
The 66-Test veteran congratulated Nevill on his Test debut by sending a bottle of champagne to his room.
Haddin continues to mentor Nevill, having struck up a close friendship since the 29-year-old’s move from Melbourne to Sydney in 2008.
“He’s been fantastic. I can’t speak highly enough of how he’s been with Pete,” Lehmann said.
“He’s taken over the wicketkeeping coaching role as well as trying to do his own stuff to keep ready.
“He has to be ready to play just in case (of an injury to Nevill).”