Langer explains 'really tough' Bancroft axe
Australia coach details the rationale behind change before Marcus Harris made just eight as England made most of the new ball
Sam Ferris at Headingley
22 August 2019, 09:37 PM AEST
Australia coach Justin Langer has called the dropping of opener Cameron Bancroft as "really tough" as Australia aim to retain the Ashes with a win in Leeds.
Bancroft, who scored 44 runs in the first two Tests, has been replaced by Victoria's Marcus Harris, with James Pattinson coming in for Peter Siddle as the only changes to the side that finished the Lord's Test last week.
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However, the change has not brought immediate success, with Harris out for eight in the fourth over before rain halted play.
Langer said Bancroft's failings could be down to "trying too hard" in his comeback to Test cricket after spending 16 months on the sidelines after the Cape Town incident.
"He is so tough, so dedicated, the boys literally love having him in the team," Langer said.
"Unfortunately, he is not at his best at the moment, whether he is trying a bit too hard.
"That can happen for a guy who is coming back in. He wasn't sure when he would be back.
"He is back playing Test cricket. Because he is trying so hard he is probably just batting to survive at the moment, his feet are not moving well.
"But we know he is a gun and we know he has a future in Australian cricket.
"For this Test, we know how important it is, we just went for Marcus Harris who has had a great 12 months. He bats with some freedom.
"It is a big opportunity for him and for all of us in this Test match."
While Bancroft has struggled in the Ashes, his now former opening partner David Warner is averaging just 4.50.
Warner has been out for scores of 2, 8, 3 and 5, dismissed three times by England veteran paceman Stuart Broad, each occasion from round the wicket.
The 32-year-old entered the Ashes in brilliant white-ball form having scored 647 runs at 72 in the World Cup as the tournament's second highest run-scorer, just a single run behind India's Rohit Sharma.
The left-hander has found the red Dukes ball a much tougher proposition, but Langer is backing his opener to produce and innings of substance that could help the visitors win the fragile urn.
"Davey Warner, we saw how he played in the World Cup and you know with great players they're not too far away," Langer said.
"He's got a smile back on his face and got that look in his eyes.
"We're really hopeful, whether it's this innings or the next innings, if he has one great innings it will play a major role in us winning the Ashes."
Pattinson returns to the XI having been rested after the Edgbaston Test, which was his first match in the Baggy Green since February 2016.
The right-armer replaces fellow Victorian Peter Siddle as Australia's selectors continue to rotate through their battery of fast bowlers to keep them fresh and, most importantly, fit.
"I have always said you pick your best XI for every game," Langer said.
"There is a bit of horses for courses in this scenario but it is more the fact we have got all these guys fit and healthy and we can just try and bring one in fresh to go 100 per cent.
"It is a hard thing being a fast bowler, well, that's what they tell me anyway. I reckon they are sooks most of them. They say it is hard.
"It's nice to be able to rotate them around at the moment.
"We have got six fit, healthy fast bowlers. Five of them are world-class. Michael Neser is a gun bowler coming through.
"Imagine having Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson or Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, now Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle – who has probably been our best bowler for the series so far – having them sitting on the bench.
"We to have make the most of it while we can, keep them fresh so we can get them to leave nothing out there."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval