Justin Langer says Australia’s lack of a settled World Cup line-up is his side’s strength rather than a threat to the defence of their title as they prepare to welcome back Marcus Stoinis against Bangladesh on Thursday.
The absence of Stoinis’ all-round contribution from the past two matches has had a knock-on effect, with Adam Zampa’s leg-spin sacrificed to accommodate an extra batsman in Shaun Marsh.
Langer’s decision to go with pace and the part-time spin of Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch against Pakistan and Sri Lanka gave his side a very different look to the one which dominated Pakistan earlier this year in the United Arab Emirates, where Zampa and the still-unused Nathan Lyon were the most active Australian bowlers.
The change in tack has not gone unnoticed among Australia cricket’s elder statesmen, with former captain Michael Clarke calling for the return of a genuine spin option, while even Langer’s assistant Brad Haddin has admitted a settled, first-choice XI remains elusive.
But on the back of four wins in five games Langer has defended his approach, telling reporters at Trent Bridge, “We said at the start of the tour that we’ve got lots of options, we are very adaptable.
“I get the sense some people think that’s our weakness. I actually think it’s our strength that we can play according to our opposition, we can play accordingly to grounds, we can play accordingly to managing players. That’s a strength, not a weakness.”
Langer is keeping his options open ahead of the meeting with Bangladesh in Nottingham, where spin has accounted for just eight of 49 wickets to fall at the tournament to date.
“In these conditions, really, it has been pace that has dominated the tournament,” he said. “Over the last four years, it has probably been more spin that has dominated one-day cricket. That might change. It has been wet, it has been overcast.
“As the wickets get a bit drier throughout the summer – this one out here (at Trent Bridge) looks pretty dry – that might change, but that has been the trend so far.”
Stoinis bowled in the Nottingham nets on Tuesday and is in contention to return to the side following a side strain, although Langer would not be pushed beyond acknowledging, “He has a chance.
“He’s done everything possible to get himself fit. He wouldn’t give up the opportunity for anything, would he?
“He’s determined, so it doesn’t surprise me with where he’s at now. It’s a credit to him, it’s a credit to the medical staff that are getting him up. So hopefully he can have a real impact on the tournament.”