Domain Tests v Sri Lanka
No promotion looming for Cummins
Coach indicates Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson will retain new ball duties; at a loss to explain absence of LBWs
31 January 2019, 11:26 AM AEST
Justin Langer has indicated Pat Cummins won’t be promoted to take the new ball in the second Domain Test against Sri Lanka, with the coach backing Mitchell Starc to return to his best form at the top of the innings.
And former skipper Ricky Ponting believes taking the new ball away from Starc would likely see the left-armer left out of the side altogether.
Test captain Tim Paine confirmed today that he intended to hand Starc the new ball after confirming an unchanged XI for the Manuka Oval Test match.
Career-best figures for Cummins in Brisbane last week has increased speculation that he might be rewarded with the new ball in place of either Starc or new quick Jhye Richardson for the second Test in Canberra, starting on Friday.
Starc has taken 15 wickets in five Tests so far this summer, leading former England skipper Michael Vaughan to say that the quick should be left out of Australia’s side for the start of the Ashes later this year.
But Langer said he is happy with the status quo, adding Starc is at his most dangerous with the new ball.
"When he gets the ball swinging, he’s as dangerous as anyone in the world,” Langer told SEN of the left-armer today.
"He bowled beautifully in the nets yesterday and hopefully he’s not far off making a real impact in one of these Test matches.
"(Cummins) has done a great job bowling first change for us.
"It’s always nice when Starcy gets the ball to swing. We saw that during the India series, if he gets the ball to swing back in to the right-handers ... he can be really dangerous.
"Jhye Richardson, as well, swings the ball and was excellent with the new ball in Brisbane. So we will wait and see.
"I’d be surprised if we changed that combination actually."
Speaking in Melbourne on Wednesday night, Ponting said if the Australians were ever tempted to relieve Starc of new ball duties, they would probably leave him out of the side altogether.
And he pointed to Starc’s overall record, a week after he became just the 17th Australian to reach the milestone of 200 Test wickets, as a reason not to write off the 29-year-old.
"I think if it ever gets to the stage where Mitchell Starc is not taking the new ball, then I don’t think he'll be in the team,” Ponting said during a Facebook Live interview hosted by BKT Tires.
"Because he's most effective with new ball when he's at his best. So they've got some decisions to make there.
"The thing about Mitchell Starc is, he's always heavily criticised, but if you look at his overall numbers … sometimes even individual Test matches where people walk away and say he bowled poorly, he still ends up taking six or seven (wickets) in the Test match.
"There's not many bowlers who can do that.
"There's no doubt he's not been at his best over the past few weeks. Hopefully he starts to find rhythm and form. The overall package is outstanding. When he's up and going at his best, he's brilliant."
Langer admitted he was at a loss to explain why Australia’s quicks had yet to pick up a leg before wicket dismissal in five Tests this summer, saying his fast men always try and target the stumps.
Of the 57 wickets taken by Australia’s fast bowlers this season, eight have been bowled, 17 caught by the wicketkeeper and 32 caught by other fielders.
The absence of LBWs is unusual and Langer conceded the anomaly had him stumped.
"I’m scratching my head with that one,” he said.
"In every single strategy meeting we have, whether it’s one-day cricket or Test cricket, we talk about attacking and hitting the stumps.
"It’s a strange one. I don’t have an answer for you
"It’s certainly not a strategic thing to not get bowleds or LBWs, that’s for sure."
Domain Test Series v Sri Lanka
Australia: Tim Paine (c/wk), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Jhye Richardson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha
First Test: Australia won by an innings and 40 runs
Second Test: February 1-5, Canberra