In bleak times, Justin Langer sees ‘plenty of room for banter’
Australia coach Justin Langer expects extra intensity as his team look to make amends for the 2018-19 Test series defeat to India at home, but the Covid-19 protocols mean his focus will be sorting internal issues before the high-voltage contests start with Friday’s first ODI in Sydney.
“We are in Sydney, we arrived on Sunday. We have guys who weren’t in the IPL and the coaches in one hotel here, and the guys who were in IPL are in quarantine in another hotel here. We will come together on the morning of the first ODI. It will be exciting to see. It’s a very different way of preparing taking on one of the toughest rivals,” Langer said in a media interaction on Wednesday.
“David Warner, Maxi (Glenn Maxwell), Steve Smith they are facing Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, Daniel Sams, Andrew Tye. They have got plenty of competition there. The guys who batted here in SCG yesterday are facing Mitchell Starc, Sean Abbott, Michael Neser. They are all here to keep their loads up for the Australia A game. There is no greater competition than this series. Boys should be ready,” he said.
Langer expects some banter between the players but said performance must speak for itself as they did during his playing career. “People say you get nervous coming to Australia, but as an ex-player I am not sure it’s about the chatter. It’s because they’re coming up against very, very great players. If you’re facing Warney, McGrath or bowling against Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist or Ricky Ponting, I think that makes you more nervous than a few words that might be spoken. It’s certainly my experience.”
“In terms of the current side, anyone who has watched us the last couple of years, we talked about our behaviour on and off the field and we talked about there being no room for abuse. There’s plenty of room for banter and having fun, having that competitive instinct. It’s healthy, great cricketers going up against each other.
“We saw that the last time India were here. Tim Paine has a great sense of humour, we love what VK (Virat Kohli) was doing, there’s a great sense of theatre to it. At the end of the day, I can promise you the pressure on the cricket field has nothing to do with the words spoken - it’s the person you’re up against.”
On Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma, recovering from injuries, possibly missing the Test series, he said: “It’s not our business. We’ve got our own challenges. It is up to India who they chose. We have zero control on that. One thing I have learnt from the Covid period is if we get caught up in things I can’t control, you can get crazy. Whatever they put out in the park, we’ll be ready to take them on,” he said.
“Well, we know Jasprit Bumrah, world-class bowler, (Mohammed) Shami, really good opening combination. Our guys have seen a fair bit of them throughout IPL and through the last couple of summers. We have played 14 ODIs against India in the last couple of years and it’s 7-all.”