Lehmann defends Smith decision


Australia head coach Darren Lehmann defended the decision to rest Steve Smith from the remainder of the Sri Lanka tour.

On Wednesday it was announced that captain Smith would head home midway through the one-day international series, which has three matches still to play, with two Twenty20 clashes to come thereafter.

Having been whitewashed 3-0 in the Test series, Australia are level at 1-1 in the ODIs, with the decision to send the 27-year-old home in order to recuperate ahead of a hectic schedule criticised by the country's former skipper Michael Clarke and Sri Lanka great Mahela Jayawardene.

"We respect our former captains and former greats who have an opinion," Lehmann said. "There's no dramas, they're entitled to that.

"But we think it's the best thing for Steven to get him right and ready to go. We planned that for a long time and he [Smith] took some convincing, there's no doubt about that.

"But as a coach and a selection panel we're making sure he's fresh and ready to go each and every time he plays for Australia.

"We just wanted to make sure that he's fresh and ready to go for South Africa and then the big summer ahead. It was well planned and well thought out, and that's what we're doing."

Lehmann felt the decision also gave David Warner the opportunity to captain the side and display his leadership credentials, with the third ODI to be played at Dambulla on Sunday.

"If Steven happened to get injured then we need David to have some experience," Lehmann said. "So that's another opportunity and that's important for us to get him that experience.

"They're a great leadership duo together and David's been exceptional over the last couple of years, coming through some difficult times and now playing really well.

"Obviously we'd like him to make a few more runs in this tour but having said that, with the leadership he did really well with the IPL side [Sunrisers Hyderabad] so we're confident he'll do a good job for us."