Langer stresses on the importance of a strong opening partnership

October 12 2018 by Gaurav Joshi

It has been over 15 hours since Tim Paine negotiated the last ball of the day to salvage a draw from an improbable position. Amidst all the jubilation on the steps of the dressing room, Justin Langer, calmly walked down the steps onto the playing arena, pumping his fist, gritting his teeth as he greeted his former teammate Michael Hussey with a hug. There were no words, there didn't need to be; Langer's passion for the job and Australia was evident on his face.

As he turned towards journalists there was one word that he simply could not get enough of - 'proud'. "You guys know that I'm being consistent saying this, win or lose we've got to keep making Australians proud of how we go about our business," he said on Thursday (October 12).

Langer is truly aware of his expectations as a coach. First priority is to fix the image of Australian cricket after the ball-tampering saga, and the rest will follow. Langer is a great motivator, a batting nut and has already built a culture that is based on hard work, fair play, and fitness.

At the close of stumps on day three after Australia had collapsed from 142 for 0 to be all out for 202, he calmly took Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Shaun Marsh, and Matthew Renshaw besides the pitch and just talked about batting. He told the players about how he would have tackled the rough and then asked for their opinions. It wasn't a coaching clinic, just an exchanging of information. Twenty-four hours later, two men involved in the conversation, Khawaja and Head had batted for over 12 hours between them to save the game for Australia.

"We just talked about as a left-hander... I'm a batting tragic. I love it. I've got a batting coach Hickey, he's a great bloke but every now and then I just like to get my hands dirty. I love talking about batting and especially left-handers. We're different breed left-handers, we've got to get our eyes that way... but anyway... but just recognise you've got to have a game plan. They had to recognise that the rough is going to play a part in the game and then work out how you're going to play it." he said.

One thing that is certain is that Langer is not afraid to make tough decisions. He had copped a lot of flak for the omission of Glen Maxwell and then in the lead-up to the first Test he made the brave call to leave out Matt Renshaw because he had felt the left-hander was lacking in match-practice. It prompted Khawaja to open the innings with debutant Aaron Finch, a partnership that worked wonders. The pair added 142 in the first innings and then 87 in the second.

"We'll talk about the good news story first and that's Aaron Finch, again I'm so pumped for him. One thing I know in great teams is not just preparation and good spirit, but one of the main building blocks is a really strong opening partnership.

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