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The new tough: skill trumps sledge as Australian cricket moves into new era | Sam Perry

World Cup title defence begins amid attempts to heal global reputation with cleaner brand of cricket

In 2016, the Australian men’s cricket team was on an ODI tour of South Africa, “getting our arses handed to us”, as described by one player. Coach Darren Lehmann called a meeting, inviting senior players to present their ideas on how the team should play. George Bailey stood up, and suggested the team focus on individual improvement and on beating opponents with skill.

It was not the answer Lehmann was after. Matthew Wade was then invited to speak. He said Australia needed to get themselves into the contest verbally, and to get in South Africa’s face. Lehmann liked it. So did many support staff. Bailey disagreed, saying verbal aggression didn’t suit the players’ personalities. It was the beginning of the end for Bailey; he would be dropped eight weeks later.

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