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Lehmann turns to form and fitness as rotation gets a spell on the boundary

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Cutting through the jargon that turned the rotation policy into a national joke, new coach Darren Lehmann has decreed that only two things will influence the selection of Australian teams on his watch - fitness and performance.

Speaking for the first time about how he will manage his players, especially fast bowlers, Lehmann spruiked a simple philosophy.

''We are going to pick the best available each and every time,'' he said. ''They've got to be fully fit to play. If they are fully fit and they can get through Test matches, they will play and if they're not, they won't. That's as simple as it will be.''

Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland this week hinted at an axing of the rotation policy for Tests, which was designed to pre-empt, and avoid, long-term injuries. Last summer, Cricket Australia denied the existence of a rotation policy, insisting it was ''informed player management''.

Two fast bowlers have been rested under the maligned workload management system - injury-prone Ryan Harris in the West Indies last year and Mitchell Starc for the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka. Starc, who it was later revealed had bone spurs on his ankle, had just bowled his country to victory in Hobart and those around him felt the decision robbed him of momentum.

The plan at the time was to nurse Starc through to end of this summer's Ashes but he ended up having surgery after the India series. The decision not to pick an exhausted Peter Siddle for the most important Test of last summer against South Africa after a heroic effort in Adelaide was also criticised, although it turned out he had a hamstring niggle.


Lehmann, as coach of Queensland, was not a fan of swapping players in and out. As coach of Australia, he said he would still listen to the sports scientists but if a player was bowling well, and not injured, he would not be left out.

''We will have to make calls and each case will be different I am sure. We will judge that as it comes. We need them to be fit for the five days, and that's what we're aiming for,'' he said. ''We always talk about performing. If you're performing, you're in the side.''

Team performance manager Pat Howard said the ''workload management policy'' was still in place, but the best available players would be picked for every Ashes Test.

The early signs are Lehmann, who retained selection power, will aim for continuity.

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