A very, very difficult selection: Langer on keeping Agar, Richardson out of XI

Abu Dhabi, Oct 24 (IANS) Australia head coach Justin Langer admitted that it was a very, very difficult decision to keep left-arm spinner Ashton Agar and pacer Kane Richardson out of the playing eleven in the opening match of the Men’s T20 World Cup against South Africa on Saturday.

The decision meant that Australia went into the match with four specialist bowlers, with Glenn Maxwell chipping in with his part-time off-spin. It worked well as Australia restricted South Africa to 118/9 and chased 119 with five wickets in hand on a slow pitch.

“It was a very, very difficult selection. But because we went for the 7-4 set-up rather than the 6-5, and we felt that we were very well planned against South Africa, we knew that we wanted to try and make an impact in the powerplay overs, in the first six overs, we’ve seen that through the IPL. And we also knew the strength of South Africa upfront so, and thankfully it worked yesterday,” Langer was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.

“I can’t emphasise enough how tough it was on Ashton Agar, his numbers are literally outstanding. Tough on Ash and really tough on Kane Richardson, who’s probably, arguably our best death bowler, or a very good bowler in these conditions so it’s nice to have those selection headaches,” added Langer.

Langer insisted that the players were aware of playing eleven selections being dictated by the conditions and match-ups, just like they did in the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England. “We’ve said from day one to the players and we did it in the last World Cup, we did it to a degree in the last Ashes in England, that we’ll just look at the conditions, we’ll look at the opposition, we’ll look at the match-ups, and we’ll make the call that we think is right for the team. It doesn’t always work out that way, but with all the information we’ve got, we’ll work through that.”

Langer signalled that Australia won’t make changes to their opening pair of David Warner and Aaron Finch. Both Warner and Finch were dismissed cheaply in the match against South Africa, making 14 and zero respectively.

“There’s some really good signs from Davey (Warner) yesterday. I think he pulled Rabada for four, he played a beautiful cover drive, he played a great cut shot, and then one held up on him a bit. But they’re good signs for me. He’s in as good physical shape as I’ve ever seen him so that’s a very positive sign, (I am) really confident he’l” come good.”

“And Finchy, I thought one, Finchy’s captaincy was brilliant yesterday. And he’s another one that, he had knee surgery, it might take a little bit of time for him to get moving. He’s working hard in the nets in his preparation. I don’t think it’s so much a mental thing for Finchy. I think it’s just getting back into some rhythm, getting used to his leg feeling good again.”

“They have been and are a world-class opening partnership and I honestly believe when those two get going, that’s going to set us up for real success in this tournament,” concluded Langer.

Australia next face Sri Lanka in the Super 12 stage of the men’s T20 World Cup in Dubai on Thursday.

–IANS

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