Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's
JL ponders change for second Test
Coach discusses possibility of his fast bowlers backing up in Abu Dhabi and backs Matthew Renshaw to bat further down the order
Louis Cameron in Dubai
12 October 2018, 07:00 PM AEST
Coach Justin Langer says discarded opener Matthew Renshaw could return to the Test side as a middle-order batsman, while Australia are set to consider how they manage fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle.
A miraculous final-day batting performance by Usman Khawaja, Tim Paine and Travis Head helped save Australia's blushes against Pakistan in Dubai after they lost all 10 of their first-innings wickets for just 60 runs.
While the heroic efforts kept Australia's hopes of a first Test series win in Asia since 2011 alive, the tourists will consider changes to their side ahead of Tuesday's second Test in Abu Dhabi.
Renshaw was a surprise omission for the first Test but the successful pairing of Khawaja and debutant Aaron Finch, who put on first-wicket stands of 142 and 87, will leave selectors loathe to tinker with their openers.
But Langer insisted Renshaw remains in the mix as a potential No.3.
"He’s a very, very good young player," the former Test batsman said.
"The only thing that played against him this game and not his ability, not his work ethic, he’s done all the things so well over the last six months. It’s really hard to come into these conditions when you haven’t got match fitness. People could argue with that and that’s fine but my view on the world is that there’s nothing like match practice and he just hadn’t had any.
"He’s a terrific young player, really good in the group. I admire the way he’s gone about it, he had a smile on his face the whole time and there’s plenty of future for Matt Renshaw.
"Whether it comes in opening or batting No.3 or … it could come anywhere. He’s a good player. I’ve always said if you open you can bat anywhere in the order. Time will tell."
While Renshaw has predominantly been deployed as an opener over the course of his first-class career, he struck a century from No.3 in his County Championship debut with Somerset earlier this year and has also batted down the order in one-day cricket.
First-gamers Finch (62 and 85) and Head (0 and 72) both played vital innings in their maiden Tests but Marnus Labuschagne, despite taking a wicket in each innings with his part-time leg-spinners as well as affecting a run-out, missed out in both batting innings with knocks of 0 and 13.
"One of the main building blocks is a really strong opening partnership," Langer added. "So for the guys to get 140-run opening partnership and an 87-run partnership … that’s huge for our team.
"Whenever you’re building a team you’re always looking for the opening partnership and they (Khawaja and Finch) have certainly both put their best foot forward and they’ve obviously got a good chemistry to have two great partnerships.
"The job if you’re not in the team is to work really hard and make a lot of runs to force yourself in, to be so good that you can’t be ignored.
"That’s how it’s always been in Australian cricket, and that’s how it’s got to be. And that’s the same with Matt or any of the players who (weren't) in the XI for this game."
The Aussies look set to play the waiting game with seeing how Starc and Siddle pull up.
The pair bowled just eight overs between them in the second innings after sending down 36.2 and 29 overs respectively in Pakistan's first dig. Michael Neser was just edged out by Siddle in the XI for the first Test, but the Queenslander impressed in last week's tour game against Pakistan A and could be called upon to fill an opening if required.
Langer conceded consideration must be given to managing the likes of Starc through the enormous summer ahead, which sees six Tests against India and Sri Lanka before a World Cup and then an Ashes series.
Starc has also been selected for three-game T20 series against Pakistan that follows the Test campaign in the UAE.
"Starcy bowled a lot of overs first innings, we certainly understand that," Langer said. "It’s always the million-dollar question, what do we do with the fast bowlers?
"Because if we’ve got our fast bowlers, particularly in Australia or going forward to England next year, like the opening partnership (or) the top three (batters, they are) incredibly important to Australia being successful.
"We’ll manage it. It’s the start of the season and hopefully we’ll manage them well throughout the summer and this tour so far."
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Pakistan Test squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez
Oct 7-11: First Test, drawn
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi