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Brian Lara warns Australia not to panic

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016 Darren Walton

Batting king Brian Lara is backing embattled Australian captain Steve Smith and cautioning selectors against mass changes for the third Test against South Africa.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann has forewarned of up to seven new faces for the series finale in Adelaide following humiliating defeats in the opening two Tests in Perth and Hobart.

Lara, though, is advising against hitting the panic button.

"You started the series with optimism in terms of winning the series and having the players necessary to do so, so that wholistic change is not something that you want to encourage," the former West Indies' skipper said on Wednesday.

"You want to see if the guys have any mettle in them; you want to see if they have any strength in them mentally and physically to go out there and turn things around in Adelaide.

"If it doesn't do that, then you have time to plan for your next series and maybe you make a few changes.

"But I wouldn't go about doing that in a series. It might be over, but you can salvage some pride in Adelaide."

Along with vice-captain Dave Warner and pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, Smith is one of only four players safe from the axe.

But, inevitably, his leadership has been called into question.

Not by Lara, though.

"The captain is as good as his team and what I'm seeing is not tactical problems," said Lara.

"It's more individuals going out there and not doing what they're supposed to do.

"You can want to point fingers in many different directions and sometimes, the captain being the face of the team, you look in his eyes.

"I think each player has to look within and realise that they're not making a contribution that the team needs."

Confident that Smith's team - whoever it is - can reverse their fortunes, Lara has no doubt Australia's problems are all psychological.

"As long as you're playing Sheffield Shield or first-class cricket in the West Indies and you're scoring runs, you've got the talent," he said.

"Do you have the mental strength? And you can find that out in a person very quickly and know if he's going to be there for a long time or if he's not going to be there.

"Sport is all cerebral."

Declaring Australia's infrastructure and "professional approach" far superior to that of the Caribbean, Lara is convinced Smith's side will emerge from their crisis.

"It's tough for the Australians. I know you're not accustomed to situations like what's going on," he said.

"But I've had it many times during my career. After we had a great team in the 70s and 80s, we lost our way from the mid-90s onwards.

"Even today, we're struggling a little bit.

"But I don't think it's going to happen to the Australians. I don't think they're going to suffer the same fate as the West Indies.

"So it might be disheartening now, but I believe you're going to pick yourselves up - your competitiveness is going to come back."

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