ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Langer keeps cool despite 'red hot' hosts
Australia coach is impressed by England's bulldozing batting but backs his charges and game plan
Louis Cameron in London
19 May 2019, 10:21 AM AEST
England's barnstorming one-day form hasn't escaped Justin Langer's attention, but Australia's coach is stridently sticking by the blueprint his batsmen have flourished under in the lead-in to the World Cup.
As Australia's tournament preparations began in earnest at the prestigious Whitgift School in London's south, Langer endorsed England as the World Cup’s "red-hot favourites" after their third straight high-scoring win over Pakistan on Friday.
The off-hand declaration might otherwise be brushed off as mind games if it hadn’t become an increasingly widespread view.
England's exhilarating batting unit have amassed scores of 373, 359 and 341 in three completed games against Pakistan, solidifying their spot at the top of the world 50-over team rankings, while they've now lost just four of their last 31 ODIs at home.
Exciting speedsters Jofra Archer, having recently qualified for England after two standout KFC Big Bash seasons for Hobart Hurricanes, and the fit-again Mark Wood have meanwhile added a different dynamic to their bowling attack.
After a first-up practice game against West Indies on Wednesday, Australia are set to get a taste of how they stack up against their Ashes rivals when they face them in a warm-up in Southampton later in the week.
"They’re playing brilliant cricket aren’t they?" Langer said of England. "I watched again last night.
"They’re obviously the red-hot favourites for the tournament, they’re playing here in their home country, they’re playing brilliantly, they deserve to be the number one team in the world.
"So we’re looking forward to playing them. There’s always good rivalry between us and it’s going to be nice for us to see how we’re at against the best team in the world."
Yet Langer refuses to buy into the notion England's up-tempo, cavalier batting approach is the way Australia necessarily need to play to defend their World Cup title.
Having flirted with installing up-tempo T20 stars Chris Lynn and D'Arcy Short in top-order berths in the one-day side earlier in Langer's tenure, Australia have returned to a more traditional style that prioritises wickets in hand and late fireworks.
Their success at the World Cup in 2015 was largely based on that model, while their current eight-game ODI winning streak and a 3-2 come-from-behind series triumph in India in February suggests Australia have become increasingly comfortable with how Langer wants them to play.
"We’ve been hearing it for 12 months," Langer said of England's approach. "We’ve shown if we stick to (our) formula then we’ll have some success. It’s as simple as that.
"And when it comes to playing India and England … we’re just going to have to compete harder and be ready for them."
Another major influence on their strategy will be local conditions.
The last World Cup held in the UK in 1999 was characterised by the swinging ball and sporting pitches, but the 50-over game has changed dramatically in the ensuing two decades.
One-day tracks have increasingly been batter-friendly, as Langer's men witnessed when England pummelled Australia for a world record 6-481 at Trent Bridge last year.
"In terms of scores, a lot will have to do with the grounds we play on, the conditions, whether we’re chasing or setting, all those sorts of things," Langer continued.
"But we’re really clear on the game plan. We showed in India and (against Pakistan) that, if we stick to it, we’ll score big enough scores to win games of cricket."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
May 22: (warm-up) Australia v West Indies, Southampton
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE