ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
Lagging behind India and England? No way, says Langer
Justin Langer brushes aside suggestions Australia lack short-form depth, saying he found perspective in a tough T20 series defeat to West Indies
Louis Cameron in Barbados
28 July 2021, 10:19 AM AEST
Justin Langer insists Australia are not lagging behind rivals England and India in terms of depth of short-form talent, though he admits their T20 International series defeat to the West Indies has given him perspective.
India are on the verge of adding a T20I series win to their 50-over series victory on their tour of Sri Lanka despite their entire Test squad missing the series.
England showcased their impressive limited-overs talent pool when their second-string ODI team swept Pakistan 3-0 after being forced to pick a completely new squad due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Aussie T20 side meanwhile, missing a handful of their best players, lost 1-4 to the West Indies earlier this month.
The reigning world champions in that format admittedly had welcomed back a host of top-flight short-form specialists while Australia, with no match practice leading into the Caribbean tour, were able to win the ensuing ODI campaign despite Aaron Finch going home with a knee injury.
Asked if Australia were falling behind England and India, Langer told cricket.com.au: "No, I don't actually.
"I came out of the T20 series with some real perspective. Our guys hadn't played any cricket for three months and it's so hard to come off no cricket – you can have as many nets as you like, you can have practice games, but you can't (simulate match practice).
"The West Indies had come off a series against South Africa, they were a bit more battle hardened. I thought there were some really good signs, we were close in that series, we were close in that first (T20I). There was some really good signs coming out of that I thought.
"Every single time we have a selection meeting - it's so hard in Australian cricket, because there's so many guys you could pick. That's really positive.
"There's no way I'd say we're behind India and England in terms of talent. We've just got to get them some experience."
The upcoming five-T20I tour of Bangladesh will provide further opportunities for Australia's fringe T20 players to push their cases for this year's World Cup.
Langer singled out for praise the form of Mitch Marsh, with the allrounder now in the frame to bat at No.3 in the T20 side if Steve Smith is unable to recover from an elbow injury for the ICC tournament, alongside the captaincy of Alex Carey in Finch's absence and the encouraging 50-over form of Ashtons Turner and Agar.
But there are a handful of batters who have points to prove in Bangladesh, which could be Australia's last T20 games before the World Cup if a mooted tri-series with Afghanistan and the Windies does not get off the ground.
Big Bash stars Josh Philippe and Ben McDermott have only scored more than 16 twice in 10 innings between them in the Caribbean, with the latter now nursing an ankle injury of still unclear severity.
Moises Henriques has played every game and was vice-captain for the ODIs but is yet to make a standout contribution, not reaching double digits in the one-dayers while he has not been used with the ball.
"Australian cricket has ticked so many boxes (but) we haven't won a T20 World Cup, we haven't been dominant in that format," Langer told reporters.
"We've gotten better and better, we've had a couple of tough series with some complications and some challenges. But it was only a few months ago that we were ranked No.1 in the world (in T20Is) and we're very proud of that.
"The Big Bash is a great competition to keep developing our young Australian players, that's really important for Australian cricket.
"I think it's really important the BBL does that for us, like the IPL does for India … That will help us be a very good T20 side when the boys are all available."
Qantas Tour of Bangladesh 2021
Australia squad: Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade (vc), Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Nathan Ellils, Tanveer Sangha.
Bangladesh squad: Bangladesh squad: Mahmudullah (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Nurul Hasan (wk), Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Taijul Islam, Mohammad Naim, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mustafizur Rahman, Afif Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Mohammad Mithun, Mosaddek Hossain, Soumya Sarkar, Shamim Hossain, Nasum Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan
(all matches at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka)
First T20: August 3, 6pm (10pm AEST)
Second T20: August 4, 6pm (10pm AEST)
Third T20: August 6, 6pm (10pm AEST)
Fourth T20: August 7, 6pm (10pm AEST)
Fifth T20: August 9, 6pm (10pm AEST)