Justin Langer, the Australia head coach, is unperturbed by David Warner’s underwhelming Test return at Edgbaston, and insisted a big score by the opening batsman is just around the corner.
“I like it when great players miss out,” Langer said ahead of the second Ashes Test, beginning on Wednesday, August 14. “It means statistically, they’ll probably get some pretty soon. So hopefully it’s this Test.”
In the months leading up to the Ashes, Warner enjoyed a spectacular time in the IPL, topping the run charts, and followed it up with a remarkable World Cup, ending the tournament as the second-highest run-scorer with an average of 71.89.
His return to Test cricket, following the 12-month ban for the ball-tampering incident, hasn’t yet gone to plan, with Warner scoring 2 and 8 in the first Test in Birmingham. Langer, however, believes the 32-year-old is raring to go ahead of the Lord’s contest. “They’re great players for a reason and he’s got that look in his eye,” said Langer.
Meanwhile, Steve Smith, who served a 12-month ban as well alongside Warner, enjoyed a grand comeback, scoring 144 and 142 in Birmingham. In a bid to counter him, England have included paceman Jofra Archer as well Jack Leech, the left-arm spinner, for the second Test.
Smith is said to have a weakness against left-arm spin – of his 103 Test dismissals, 21 have been to left-arm spinners – but Langer categorically rejected the notion, despite the touring side having roped in UAE’s Ahmed Raza to give the Australian batsmen a taste of left-arm spin.
“I don’t buy into it,” Langer said. “He [Smith] has got this incredible ability to solve problems, I’m sure he’ll be thinking a lot about how he’s going to play all the new bowlers who are coming in.
“He had three or four days off. You’ve just got to recognise they’re humans, and they’ve got a certain amount of battery, and you try and recharge them for every big event.”