In the aftermath of their 242-run thrashing in the third ODI against England, the words used by the Australia coach Justin Langer – ‘shock’ and ‘brutal’ and so on – were indicative of the state of the dressing room.
Australia head into the fourth ODI needing a victory, or a display of some fight, to salvage pride. They conceded a record 481/6 at Trent Bridge, where Johnny Bairstow and Alex Hales scored centuries, and Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan hit half-tons.
It was Australia’s fourth consecutive bilateral ODI series loss, and it pushed them down to No.6 in the ICC’s ODI rankings, their lowest position since 1984.
“It’s a shock,” said Langer. “That is literally England at their best. It’s no fluke that they are No.1 in the world. I’ve never seen nothing like that. I was in Johannesburg when Australia got 400 [434/4] and South Africa then got it … but that was just brutal. Hopefully our young guys can learn from it. It doesn’t get harder than that.”
Langer went on to rave about the opposition, especially England’s depth and balance in the limited-overs teams. “I’ve got massive respect for England and the way they are playing their cricket,” said Langer. “Their top three are brutal. The way they are playing is reminiscent of how we (Australia) used to play in our day with Gilly (Adam Gilchrist), Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting at the top.
“They have the England Test captain Joe Root batting at four and Eoin Morgan, England’s highest ever one-day scorer coming in at five,” said Langer. “Jos Buttler who is as dynamic as anyone at the moment, and Moeen Ali who is beating us with the bat and the ball – well maybe not so much the ball, but he gives them some depth.”
Heading into the fourth ODI, Langer threw his weight behind his young team, including Andrew Tye, who conceded 100 runs in his nine overs at Trent Bridge .
WATCH: An outrageous 147 from 92 balls for @AlexHales1! ????????
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) June 20, 2018
“He’s probably one of the best people I have ever met in the game of cricket,” he said. “He’ll stay up, but what I’ve said to him, like our batters, he’s got to learn how to bowl at the first 10 overs, the second 10 overs, and at the death.”
Langer also spoke of the need for his batsmen to last the duration of an innings, and play spin watchfully. “We’ve got to bat against the top and against spin,” he said. “We need to have more rounded players. In 20-overs cricket you can get away with it as it’s more condensed, but in 50 overs you have a lot more time in the game than you think.
But at the moment, what the young players really need is a hand around their shoulder. “I have to look after them all,” said Langer. “These are the days when you are like a dad, not a headmaster. We’ll look after them. It was a tough day but we’ll keep chipping away at it tomorrow.”