WORLD CUP 2019
“Well we can’t control the crowd,” Langer said about Smith and Warner’s return. © Getty
With the World Cup fast approaching, the preparations are in full flow in the Australian camp as they aim to clinch the title for the fifth time in six editions. Justin Langer, Australia’s head coach, affirmed that there won’t be any change of tactics and added that his team shall stick to the formula to have success in the mega event.
“We’ve been hearing it for 12 months (about change of plans). We’ve shown if we stick to the formula then we’ll have some success. It’s as simple as that,” Langer said on Saturday (May 18). “And when it comes to playing India and England, it’s just like match play, we’re just going to have to compete harder and be ready for them. In terms of scores, a lot will have to do with the grounds we play on, the conditions, whether we’re chasing or setting, all those sorts of things but we’re really clear on the game plan. We showed in India and in Dubai that if we stick to it, we’ll score big enough scores to win games of cricket.
“We love our cricket and we’ve been good at it. When everyone says we’ve got to start playing like England or start playing like New Zealand or start playing like India, no – we’ll keep playing like Australia because we’ve won four of the past five World Cups and that’s something to be proud of. The boys are aware of it and we know if we stick to the Australian way of playing great cricket… history has shown we’ll be pretty good”
The return of Steven Smith and David Warner into the Australian set-up has already created great buzz among the cricketing circles, but Langer noted that the duo needs to be handled well to negate any negativity on and off the field.
“Well we can’t control the crowd,” Langer said. “What I do know? It may ramp up, it may heat up, but it won’t be any hotter than it was 12 months ago. I’ve never seen anything like it so the boys are very well prepared. They’ve paid a heavy price and we’re expecting always to come here and to face the fire and we’re ready for that.
“What we’ve got to understand is that they’re human beings as well. There’s not too many I’ve met in my life who like being booed or heckled or disliked so… they’re human beings. We’re going to have to care for them, we’re going to have to put an arm around them and make sure they’re going okay. But what people say, whether it’s in the crowd or social media or wherever, there’s nothing they can do about that, they can’t control it but what we can do is keep an eye on them and make sure they’re going okay as people as much as cricketers”
Speaking specifically of both individuals [Warner and Smith], Langer expressed great delight in the work the duo has put in the last 12 months and hoped the experience would serve them better.
“Dave’s got that look in his eye, he’s really hungry, he’s a great player as we all know, he’s so dynamic, he brings so much energy, and that’s what we ask from our players,” Langer said. “You watch Glenn Maxwell field or bowl or bat – he brings the energy. Dave Warner always brings energy to the contest. It’s really nice to have him back.
“I watched Steve Smith batting against New Zealand in those three practice games, he’s literally a master of the game, so it’s nice to have him back. It’s been hilarious for me because whether on the ANZAC cove or in the lunch room or we’re in the bus playing cards, he’s just shadow batting the whole time. He’s literally. He loves batting, he’s shadow batting on the sand, he’s shadow batting in the shower – I’m not joking. You should see him, he just loves batting. From that point it’s great to have him back.”
Warner and Smith took part in the practice games against New Zealand last week and much to the delight of Australian fans, the pair looked in great nick and notched up a few useful runs during the three-match series Down Under.
“They both fielded in the three [World Cup warm-up] games against New Zealand. Steve’s in literally career best shape. I mean you just saw a 2K time trial, he’s in great shape and Dave Warner is always elite fit. So in terms of their throwing, they’re building it up. Where they’ve come from, from surgery, I’m really proud of them and they’re up and running. Are they going to throw like Andrew Symonds or Ricky Ponting? Probably not at the moment but they’re certainly working towards that.
“From a broader perspective, it’s nice to have them back as well, they’ve had 12 months to have a good think about a mistake they and the team made. I’m sure they’ll be better people for that.”
To emphasize the kind of form that Steven Smith’s in, Langer added, “Last week in Brisbane, [Smith] batted beautifully, he played an unbelievable shot off Nathan Coulter-Nile there – it was like watching Sachin [Tendulkar] bat. He’s in pretty good shape I think.”