Ashes 2019: Langer calls on 'lucky' Australia to focus ahead of Lord's Test

By Sports Desk August 12, 2019

Justin Langer was delighted with Australia's victory at Edgbaston but insists they must remain focused on winning the Ashes ahead of the second Test of the series.

Steve Smith inspired Australia to a 251-run victory by scoring centuries in both innings of the opening Test, putting them 1-0 up with four matches to play.

Australia will look to double their lead at Lord’s this week, with the second Test beginning on Wednesday.

England will be without James Anderson, who is out with a calf injury, with Jofra Archer expected to deputise in place of the Lancashire seamer.

Langer believes Anderson's absence is a huge boost, with his side knowing they had a huge slice of fortune in the previous Test.

"We're really pleased to win the first Test but we didn't come here to win the first Test. We're here to win the Ashes, so we're going to focus," Langer told a news conference on Monday.

"We're very aware England will have to play without James Anderson, he's their best player, so we're well aware of that.

"We got lucky, that's the truth of it, with him not playing. He's a brilliant fast bowler. He only bowled four overs and we got lucky there.

"We're aware of that. This is a different Test, different conditions and we have to be ready for that."

Archer's likely Test debut is the big story for England heading into the game, with Langer fascinated to see how the 24-year-old performs.

"I'm really curious and interested to see how he goes. He's not played a lot of red-ball cricket, he's played mainly white-ball cricket," Langer said of the pace bowler.

"Obviously he's an incredible athlete, but Test cricket is very different than white-ball cricket. Our plans will be exactly the same though.

"We've seen what a good cricketer he is. We'll respect him and like I said I'm curious to see how he does in red-ball cricket. Hopefully we have the answers to what he dishes up.

"Most of our guys have seen him before. It'll be up to the individuals, not so much our gameplan against him. It'll be the same for all of the bowlers. That's significant not only for this match but also the whole series.

"With every Test cricketer, the question is if they've got the mental toughness, the physicality to play well in Test cricket. It's not just him, it's the same for the 22 guys out there."

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    South Africa captain Faf du Plessis would love to see his team demonstrate the ravenous hunger for runs that Virat Kohli showed for India in the one-sided second Test.

    The India skipper set the platform for a dominant victory by making 254 not out in the first innings, as the home team piled up an intimidating 601-5.

    After India won the first Test by 203 runs in Visakhapatnam, South Africa were thumped this time by an innings and 137 runs in Pune to surrender the series after being bowled out for 275 and 189.

    It was South Africa's heaviest Test defeat to India.

    Du Plessis used seven bowlers in an effort to unsettle Kohli on the first two days of the match, but to no avail.

    "The way India batted, and especially Virat getting a 250, that takes a lot of mental toughness to put a score like that on the first innings," Du Plessis said.

    Kohli's score was his highest in Tests and it took him through the 12,000-run barrier in the five-day game.

    "It's trying to stop him," said Du Plessis. "We saw it in the first Test as well [with other India batsmen]. As captain you try to think of ways, how you can change little things, field placements or bowling placements, but he was too good in this Test match.

    "All the questions, and all the stuff we threw at him, he had answers for. [He was] just relentless and sticking to his game, and for me what really stuck out from that was a hunger for runs.

    "You could see they were determined to score big and not get tired and satisfied of getting a hundred and stopping. It was great value for us as batters – when you're on top of your game, making sure you're really hungry and making sure you can put in big performances that can affect the outcome of the game."

    Du Plessis suggested South Africa had found the Kohli experience exhausting.

    "Two days in the field, it can wear you down," said Du Plessis. "Since then, it was trying to play catch-up and with a very good India bowling attack. And these conditions, they don’t give you much and you need to be on top of your best game.

    "If you're not, you're going to be found wanting, and we were found wanting in this Test match."

    South Africa will expect more from their attack in the third and final Test, starting in Ranchi on Saturday.

    "All in all, I think India are deservedly Test series winners," said Du Plessis. "They are a very tough team to beat at home and their record speaks for itself. We weren't at our best, so we'll try to make sure we can improve for the next Test."

  • Hungry Kohli targets whitewash of ailing Proteas Hungry Kohli targets whitewash of ailing Proteas

    Virat Kohli turned his attention to securing a whitewash after India consigned South Africa to a record innings-and-137-run defeat on day four of the second Test to win the series.

    The struggling tourists were all out for 189 in the final session on Sunday to suffer their heaviest Test loss to India after Kohli enforced the follow-on in Pune.

    Umesh Yadav (3-22) and Ravindra Jadeja (3-52) capitalised on the tourists' shortcomings with the bat, while Ravichandran Ashwin took 2-45 after claiming 4-69 in the first innings.

    Kohli laid the platform with a Test-best 254 not out and the captain is determined to make it 3-0 in Ranchi with an 11th consecutive home series win in the longest format already in the bag.

    Asked about his side's run of series triumphs on home soil, the skipper said: "It's been nice, but looking at the larger picture, the Test Championship, every game has even more value.

    "We're not going to take the foot off the gas in the third Test, we're looking for a result again, and hopefully make it 3-0.

    "Because these points are important, we understand that, with the Test Championship it's going to be very crucial, at all the stages, when we play away from home as well. And no one's going to relax at any stage, that's a guarantee."

    Kohli says he would not have registered an astonishing seven double-centuries without taking an unselfish approach at the crease.

    "I think it's getting the responsibility of being captain. If you go out planning a double-hundred, you will not get it. But if you go out planning playing five sessions for your team, invariably you cross that 200 mark as well." said Kohli.

    "The mindset has always been to help the team as much as possible, play at the tempo the team requires you to, and in that process, big scores come. The mindset change is the only reason behind the big scores.

    "Before that, I used to think from a personal point of view and put pressure on myself. But the moment you start thinking about the team, all the pressure goes away, and all you're thinking is how to contribute to the team's cause."

  • Australia all-rounder Marsh injures hand hitting dressing room wall Australia all-rounder Marsh injures hand hitting dressing room wall

    Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh could face an injury layoff after hitting a changing room wall following his dismissal in Western Australia's Sheffield Shield draw with Tasmania.

    The Western Australia captain damaged his right hand on his return to the pavilion after he was caught and bowled by Jackson Bird for 53 at the WACA on Sunday.

    Marsh, recalled for Australia's defeat to England in the final Ashes Test at The Oval last month, must wait to discover the extent of the damage inflicted on himself during the first Shield match of the season.

    "Marsh sustained the injury when he struck the wall in the changerooms following his dismissal earlier in the day," a statement on the Western Australian Cricket Association website said.

    "The extent of the injury and a timeframe on his return will be determined later this week after further investigation."

    Australia start a two-match Test series against Pakistan at the Gabba on November 21.

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