The Ashes: Darren Lehmann changed the Australian mindset, says Shane Watson
Shane Watson says playing international cricket has become fun again since Darren Lehmann took over as Australia coach earlier this year.
Australia allrounder Shane Watson says the 5-0 Ashes clean sweep against England and the team's sharp improvement under coach Darren Lehmann had vindicated his own opposition to the methods of previous coach Mickey Arthur.
Watson had well-publicized issues with Arthur and said on Monday that international cricket had become fun again since Lehmann took charge last year.
"Personally it makes it more sweet," Watson said. "To know that there were times when I knew I had to stand strong with my beliefs.
"I certainly would never take back how I stood and voiced my opinions at certain times. It makes it all worthwhile."
Watson was one of four players suspended from a Test against India early last year for failing to complete an off-field written assignment set by Arthur. He immediately returned to Australia and admitted he considered his future in international cricket. (Read: Monty Panesar calls woman to his room, hours after Ashes debacle: report)
Watson said the transformation of Australia's mindset had been immediate under former Test batsman Lehmann, who took over from the fired Arthur at short notice just prior to the 2013 Ashes series in England. (Read: Aussie media hails Michael Clarke's 'Unchangeables')
"Darren Lehmann comes in and within one day just turns that all around," he said. "It just made me know that what I was standing strong for were the right reasons and always was. (Read: More pain to come for England after Ashes hammering, says Andy Flower)
"This is the time of my life, it really is. And I know how lucky I am to be involved in such a special environment because it doesn't always come along."
Watson said the players lost their enjoyment of cricket under Arthur, who had been a highly successful coach with South Africa and at first-class level before taking the Australia job.
"That had gone out the window," he said. "It was more so you had to be desperate and put every other part of your life on hold to become the best player and best team in the world instead of just getting the perfect balance.
"And Darren knew that from experience and that's what he implemented."