‘We have unlocked a few answers’ – Justin Langer
Hopefully it will add some layers to their character and not scars, said Justin Langer, specifically about the mauling Australia suffered in the Trent Bridge ODI but in general about the whole tour of England, where they won nothing and lost all six fixtures.
The tour ended on Wednesday with England winning the one-off T20I by 28 runs to add to their 5-0 sweep of the T20I series. England had many batting stars – as has been the norm in recent times – in putting up 221-5 and then stopped Australia on 193 despite captain Aaron Finch’s 41-ball 84.
“I knew it was going to be a big job, knowing where we came from in South Africa,” said Langer. “But it hurts when you get beaten, particularly in England.
“My first Test match was against the West Indies and it was pretty scary. You faced four fast West Indians and you are a skinny kid. I remember David Boon saying, ‘Test cricket will never get tougher than this’. I thought he was just being nice to me but it was so true,” he added.
“I learned something from it and I was tougher from it. When you look at Trent Bridge [when England scored a world-record 481/6], for our young blokes to get hit for 480-something, it doesn’t get tougher. Hopefully it will add some layers to their character and not scars.”
Though the results went England’s way without exception, it must not be forgotten that Australia were without their two best batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner, premier all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, and the three best pace bowlers, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
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That left Australia with an inexperienced squad to pick from, especially in the bowling department.
“There’s been some great learning and some really positive stuff that has come from this trip,” said Langer. “On the surface, it looks like a complete disaster but we have talked about building a team that’s going to be ready for the World Cup and the Ashes and I think we have unlocked a few answers.
“The facts and the reality are that they are very inexperienced. In a perfect world, you bring a couple of your best young players into an experienced team, we just haven’t got the luxury of doing that at the moment. A few of the boys have walked into the jungle and we’ll see how they go, not only over the next six months, but over the next two or three or 10 years.”
The next 50-over World Cup is less than a year away. Smith and Warner will become available for selection by then, giving Australia a full list of players to choose from – fitness permitting – as they go out to defend their title.
“If Steve Smith and David Warner and Mitch Marsh, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc come back in, all of a sudden, you’ve got 800 games of experience again and we’ve got a lot more experienced team,” pointed out Langer.
“And if some of these young guys who are gaining some experience here, or the guys who have taken it up – Shaun Marsh in the one-day series, he scored two hundreds, Ashton Agar has been really good with the ball and shown a lot with the bat, Billy Stanlake has had some good games.
“If we can get some of those guys learning and growing and if some of the other guys are available, who knows what could happen in 12 months’ time? It’s a fact of life. We don’t know what’s going to happen in 12 months. That will just be natural if some of those more senior players come back in the team, that’s just reality.”