MELBOURNE: Justin Langer says several batting spots up are up for grabs ahead of Australia’s Test series against Pakistan in UAE in October.
With Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft all serving bans for their roles in the ball-tampering controversy, Australia’s coach is hoping the next cabs off the rank will push their case for selection during the ‘A’ tour of India in September.
The Marsh brothers – Shaun and Mitchell, who will captain the ‘A’ tour – appear shoo-ins, but Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Kurtis Patterson and Matt Renshaw will be under the microscope in India and aiming to prove their credentials in spin-friendly conditions.
“It’s unprecedented,” Langer told the Weekend Australian. “We’re going to wait until probably a week before the UAE tour to select the [Test] team. Do we know the best six batsmen in Australia? The answer is ‘no’.
“It’s two-fold with India and Australia A. One, we want to see who performs under pressure and two, we want to start to get some continuity in our side where possible, but we also need to reward performance, not just talent.”
Three months into his role as head coach, having replaced Darren Lehmann in May, Langer admits the job has given him sleepless nights.
“It’s the first time in my adult life I’ve woken up in the middle of the night,” he said. “I did it a few times in England. I’ve done it a few times since I’ve been home. It’s bizarre but hopefully as I start getting my feet under the table and I start knowing who I trust around my new team of people at Cricket Australia, hopefully I start sleeping better.”
Australia will be targeting a first Test series win in Asia for seven years when they arrive in UAE, their most recent victory coming against Sri Lanka in 2011.