August 12, 2015 / 1:29 AM / 2 years ago

Cricket-Ashes buck stops with me, says Australia boss Howard

MELBOURNE, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Cricket Australia's high performance director Pat Howard has taken the blame for the Ashes capitulation and put himself forward as the first person to be held to account in a post-series review.

The 3-1 series loss with the fifth and final test still to play has sparked recrimination in Australia, with local media tearing into the team's woeful batting and blaming selectors for picking a 'Dad's Army' of ageing players.

Former rugby international Howard, who recently signed a contract extension until 2017, conceded he was uncomfortable about a number of decisions made under his watch.

"I need to be reviewed and I have absolutely no problem with that," Howard told local media after returning from England.

"Clearly I have got to take leadership over this. We lost and someone is accountable and ultimately I am accountable.

"The first person I want people looking for is me rather than anyone else. We will do an internal review first and see where that gets to."

Howard said it was his fault paceman Ryan Harris, who suffered a knee injury and promptly retired days before the first test, had been unable to get fit for the series.

"I put the (fitness and rehab) program in with the guys to take him out of Sheffield Shield cricket to get him ready," the 41-year-old added.

"I am certainly going to review that decision.

"We went for experience in the English conditions, we had plenty of experienced guys that had scored centuries in England before.

"It was a strategic decision -- but did we get that right?

"It is going to sit in the back of why head whether that was right or not."

Head coach and selector Darren Lehmann also apologised for the team's performance in a lengthy column on Cricket Australia's website (www.cricket.com.au).

"We have been poor, we have been outplayed by a superior opponent, and as coaching staff, players and selectors we fully accept the blame for our losses at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge," he wrote.

Lehmann came under fire on social media for using Twitter to try to source tickets for an English soccer match only hours after his team's humbling loss at Trent Bridge.

"We spend a lot of time in each other's company, from functions after test matches that are solely for the team to lunches like the one we had for the group when we arrived in Nottingham, and even the gym sessions for players and support staff that leave me feeling sore for days," he said.

"But there comes a time when people also need to be able to do their own thing."

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg stutchbury

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