Australia are due to take on Pakistan in a two-Test series in the UAE this October and Langer has stated that the squad will be finalised only a week before the start of the tour. The team management will be taking into account the performance of Australia ‘A’ in India before taking a call on the selection.
Australia ‘A’ are currently participating in a quadrilateral one-day series in India also involving India ‘B’ along with South Africa ‘A’. The limited-overs fixtures will be followed by two first-class matches against India ‘A’ in September.
The international cricket bans handed to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft has thrown up multiple vacant spots in the batting order and Langer is hoping players can stake their claims for these roles in the tour of India.
“It’s unprecedented. We’re going to wait until probably a week before the UAE tour to select the (Test) team,” Langer told the Weekend Australian.
When asked if he knew who his best batsmen were, Langer replied: “The answer is straight up no. 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,” the Australia coach added.
While Travis Head is currently leading the Australia ‘A’ squad in the one-day matches in India, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh will take over the captaincy in the two first-class matches.
The Australians have picked many Test regulars for the first-class matches in India apart from Marsh and Head. Among them are Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw.
The South Africa batsman called time on his 14-year international cricket earlier this year in a move which took the cricketing world by surprise. The 34-year-old had recently cited ‘unbearable’ pressure and demands of international cricket as the reason for his shock retirement.
His retirement did not go down too well with many in South Africa with some going as far as to accuse the batsman of being ‘selfish’. Steyn, though, has called on fans to cut ABD some slack.
“I believe AB doesn’t deserve to get a bad rap. Even though we both made our Test debuts in 2004, him and I are in two completely different boats. He is married with children and I only have dogs. Family time is a big pull for him right now. We spend on average 220 days of the year out of the country. It’s a long time to be away from your family especially when your children are growing up,” the Proteas pacer told Sport24.
While he lauded de Villiers’ commitment to the South African cause, Steyn believes that the country has enough young talent in the pipeline to make up for his absence.
“The pleasing aspect is the Proteas have managed to win without him. It’s nice that the circle (of talent) is getting bigger and there is hope for the future. Calling time on his international career has also given AB time to recover from a physical point of view. His back had been giving him trouble for so many years. Through sheer pride of representing South Africa he pushed on,” Steyn said.
Having retired from international cricket, de Villiers will continue to participate in the IPL where he is contracted to the Royal Challengers Bangalore and other franchise T20 leagues around the globe.
The 20-year-old is set to replace wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik in what is a must-win game for the visitors. Virat Kohli’s men have their backs to the wall after falling 0-2 behind in the five-match Test series and they will be hoping that Pant’s inclusion can provide the spark a turnaround.
Pant was seen hard at work with the wicketkeeping pads during the team’s practice session on Friday and all signs point towards him making his Test debut at Nottingham.
The left-hander proved his mettle for India ‘A’ in their recent shadow tour of England where he registered three half-centuries in four first-class innings. Karthik, meanwhile, has averaged just five with the bat since making his Test comeback for India and has struggled in the wicketkeeping department too on the tour of England so far.
From what I have seen these last two days here at India's nets... Rishabh Pant to make his Test debut tomorrow. #EngvInd— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) August 17, 2018
Also, Jasprit Bumrah should make his long awaited return from injury. The pacer was declared fit to bowl in the Test by Kohli on Friday and will in all likelihood replace Kuldeep Yadav in the line-up.
In the batting department, the opening position remains an issue for India with none of Murali Vijay, KL Rahul or Shikhar Dhawan firing so far. While Vijay is expected to keep his place as the senior opener, it remains to be seen who Kohli picks as his partner at Trent Bridge.
Having recovered from the thumb injury he sustained against Ireland in a T20, Bumrah too, like Pant, was given an extended session on Friday and his comeback should be a huge boost for the visitors.
Hosts England announced their playing XI on Friday with the returning Ben Stokes replacing Sam Curran.
The all-rounder’s return, after being cleared of affray charges, is the only change to the England team which won at Lord’s with Chris Woakes keeping his place in the side after his player of the match performance.
India likely XI: Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami
England XI: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson