Australia head coach Justin Langer on Tuesday stated that Marnus Labuschagne won’t be opening the innings in the first Test of the upcoming four-match series against India. Langer though hinted that Matthew Wade could play as opener. The Aussies, who had initially named David Warner, Will Pucovski and Joe Burns as openers for the first Test, suffered twin blows with Warner getting injured and Pucovski getting a blow on his head. Both the batsmen have been ruled out of the pink-ball Test which begins Thursday at the Adelaide Oval. And there are also doubts over Joe Burns who has had a terrible season. He failed in both the warm-up games and had struggled in Sheffield Shield cricket too. Left-handed opener Marcus Harris has been called up to the squad.
“Marnus won’t be opening. He does amazing job at number three. Steve Smith does an amazing job at number four and we will try to stay as settled as possible…they’ve done terrific jobs in those positions. Marnus won’t be opening so we have got Joe Burns and Harris who are the openers, we have got tough decisions to make but as I have said before, tough decisions are good decisions, which means we have competition for spots,” said Langer. “We have to pick our best six…and that is all part of jigsaw puzzle. There are a lot of balls in the air. I wish we could be definite, not just for you but for our players too. But until we get a few things ticked off ,we can’t make any decisions yet,” he added.
The Australia head coach further said that though Burns remains a contender, he recognises the need to have runs under the belt.”I have seen Joe, been talking to him last week or so and I have been privately and publicly backing Joe all the time. He is a very good player. You don’t lose your talent overnight. He also understands that the runs are the greatest currency or value to any player,” said Langer.
On the possibility of Wade playing, Langer said that mental and physical toughness makes him a favourite for the opening spot.”He (Wade) could handle opening spot. He could handle anywhere. He is tough, both mentally and physically. He has got the footwork. He has got the game to counterattack like David Warner does, like all great openers do. They don’t just have strong defence but they counter-attack as well. He can definitely do it,” said Langer.
“He is great. Wade is so well regarded. He was the vice-captain when Pat (Cummins) was away in the white-ball team. He is so tough, physically, mentally, has a great attitude in the game. He is an unbelievable team man. His development within Australian cricket team. He did what I talked about two years ago, you have to bang so hard on the door to get a chance and whoever would have thought from where he comes from to where he is now, into all three forms of the game. He is a very, very important part of our team. As a batsman, like we saw against New Zealand last year, he fights hard, got good footwork. He is tough and he can counter-attack and we know how aggressive he can be. So he is a very important part of our batting line-up and our team because of leadership,” added Langer.
The 50-year-old also said that he is worried about the future of Will Pucovski.”I am worried about Will. He got hit the other day. He would have almost certainly played this first Test. So I feel for him… My only advice to him is that it is part of the game. Unfortunately, we get hit and if we can get through it and I can say only from my personal experience from what I have seen that if you can get through it then there is no reason why he can’t he have a long domestic and hopefully international career,” said Langer while also admitting that the team has been a bit disjointed due to injuries.
“Over the last few weeks, the injury list has been growing. It has been a little bit disjointed. We expected that. In this unusual Covid period, we recognised that we have to be creative, we have to be flexible and we are working through that…(But) I have a very senior team and I can’t wait to get the show on the road,” he added.