Smith and Warner can handle spotlight – Langer

By Sports Desk May 03, 2019

Australia coach Justin Langer backed Steve Smith and David Warner to deal with whatever is thrown at them at the Cricket World Cup and Ashes.

Smith and Warner were both named in Australia's 15-man squad for the Cricket World Cup, which begins in England on May 30.

The duo are set to make their international returns after being handed 12-month bans for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

Though that incident is likely to ensure the pair are targeted by opposition supporters, Langer said Smith and Warner can handle the criticism.

"I think there's going to be plenty of spotlight on the whole team," he told a news conference on Friday.

"Obviously the boys, they're big boys now and they've worked through a really tough 12 months, they'll be thicker-skinned for it. There's no real remedy for it.

"We know what we're going to get, we'll be ready for it, there'll be some personal and collective strategies in place so together we're moving in the right direction and doing what we love doing which is playing cricket and, World Cup and Ashes cricket, it doesn't get much better than that."

Langer dismissed any suggestions there was "tension" within his squad after the returns of Smith and Warner.

He also had a message for the pair, particularly with Australia also in England for the Ashes, which begins in August, recalling his own memories of the 'Barmy Army' after a Boxing Day Test in 2002.

"The biggest lesson of my sporting career. I got 250 at the Boxing Day Test match and just before stumps they were calling Brett Lee for chucking, they were calling him [for a] no-ball and I just got 250," Langer said.

"So I walked in, I think I'm Viv Richards, feeling I've got the gold chain and the chest out and like I'm the king of the world, 250, Boxing Day Test against England.

"I made one comment about the Barmy Army cos I was sticking up for Brett Lee. Well, then they started signing the song about the Seven Dwarfs. So, you don't mess with the Barmy Army, I'm not messing with the Barmy Army!

"We'll be friends and we'll be bantering and we'll be having some fun but I'm never messing with the Barmy Army."

Australia begin their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan in Bristol on June 1.

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    Australia are wary of the threat posed by Shakib Al Hasan as they prepare to encounter the Cricket World Cup's leading run-scorer at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

    The all-rounder has scored 384 in four innings so far, including a pair of centuries in his last two visits, and there is no disguising the fact he is Bangladesh's main threat.

    Shakib made 124 not out as the Tigers chased down 322 inside 42 overs to hammer West Indies at Taunton on Monday, a victory that left them just two points adrift of the semi-final spots.

    "I think he's in probably career-best form with the white ball," said Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey of Shakib. "So we sort of know the areas and line and length we want to bowl to him and I guess out there we'll assess the conditions as well.

    "No extra planning, I don't think. We normally have our plans going into every game and we assess each player accordingly.

    "In terms of what we're going to bowl, we leave that up to the bowlers and the captain to do that, but we'd love to get him out early. He's in great form, along with the other players."

    Australia could bring all-rounder Marcus Stoinis back into their side after he recovered from the side strain that saw him miss matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

     

    TOURNAMENT SO FAR

    Australia have won four games from five to sit in a strong position to reach the semi-finals. Captain Aaron Finch is having a fine tournament with the bat, making 343 in five innings to date.

    Bangladesh enter the match with two wins and two defeats plus one no-result due to rain. They cruised to a seven-wicket win over the Windies last time out.

    WHAT THEY SAID

    Carey: "Obviously Bangladesh are playing some really good cricket at the moment and it's led by Shakib. He's one guy we want to get out early."

    Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza: "Shakib is brilliant. The way he's playing, I think we need to support him as well, his team. It's not been a one-man army, but as you said he's been doing outstandingly."

    OPTA FACTS

    - These two sides have been involved in 19 completed ODIs, with Australia winning 18 of those and losing just once, in Cardiff 14 years ago.

    - Australia have won the World Cup more often than any other side (five times) and are looking to win this tournament for the fifth time in their last six attempts; Bangladesh are yet to reach the semi-final stage.

    - Steve Smith is set to register his 100th ODI innings for Australia in this match. He has scored 3,674 runs across his previous 99 knocks and heads into this contest on the back of a 59-ball 73 against Sri Lanka.

    - Shakib Al Hasan has managed to register 50 runs or more in five successive ODI knocks. No batsman has ever posted six half-centuries on the spin for Bangladesh. Shakib is currently tied for the record with Tamim Iqbal, who made five 50-plus scores in succession in 2012.

  • New Zealand skipper Williamson hails De Grandhomme innings New Zealand skipper Williamson hails De Grandhomme innings

    New Zealand captain Kane Williamson saluted team-mate Colin de Grandhomme after a tense four-wicket win over South Africa at the Cricket World Cup.

    Williamson and De Grandhomme compiled the 91-run match-defining partnership before the latter was dismissed for 60 from 47 balls with victory in sight at Edgbaston.

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    "Colin de Grandhomme stood out for me today, in terms of with the ball and then the impetus he came and showed with the bat was really special," Williamson said.

    "It was a superb knock from him."

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    "Today was a really close match - could have gone either way - but it was nice to get a win."

    New Zealand remain unbeaten and look to be heading to the semi-finals. Williamson's opposite number Faf du Plessis, by contrast, is facing World Cup elimination with South Africa.

    Du Plessis said after a fourth defeat of his team's campaign: "Performances haven't been there. Individually we would have liked to have taken on more responsibility to put on performances that could drive the team home but it hasn't been there.

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