ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
'We couldn't be in a better position'
Australia coach rapt with reintegration of key duo as team faces final NZ practice match before heading to Europe
9 May 2019, 10:28 PM AEST
Australia coach Justin Langer says Australia is perfectly positioned for a five-month tour of the UK for the World Cup and Ashes campaigns after the successful reintroduction of Steve Smith and David Warner to the national side.
Both players played the first two unofficial World Cup practice matches against a New Zealand XI in Brisbane this week, and Langer confirmed they would line up in the side again for Friday's final clash before the squad departs.
Both were given warm receptions by fans at Allan Border Field and Langer said any worry he had about any awkwardness or team unity had quickly dissipated
"I can honestly say I don't think we could be in a better position," Langer said of the team unity on SEN's Whateley program Thursday.
"It's a bit like facing fast bowling, you worry, worry, worry and once you get out in the middle, it's ok. The worst time to face fast bowling is in bed the night before.
"There's been a huge lead-up to this and the boys have come in so far quite seamlessly.
"They'll have some new challenges when we get to England – we really aware of that, they're really aware of that. But I'm really glad the boys have put the work in because it feels we're in a really good place."
England's Barmy Army delivered a taste today of what the Australians can expect from the British crowds when they posted on social media a crude photoshop of sandpaper onto the team's official portrait images.
"We're ready for it," Langer said. "If we're under siege the second we get off the plane, we're ready for it.
"The World Cup might be a bit different to start off (with Australia opening their campaign against Afghanistan in Bristol) but certainly once the Ashes kicks off there will be plenty of commentary."
Warner, who entered the Australian camp off the back of a prolific purple patch in the IPL "has got this look in his eye at the moment" while Smith's unbeaten innings in the second match was " a tutorial in batting" said Langer.
“I certainly slept a lot better, it warmed my heart to be honest," the coach said of Smith's 89 not out on Wednesday.
"I watched him on the weekend, he had a nets session on Sunday night and I was sitting with a couple of coaches and I just said ‘How good is this kid'. We've seen the statistics and we know the stories but when you see him first hand…
"(Wednesday) was a tutorial in batting. It's great for the team."
Langer said both were "incredibly hungry for runs" but were both still working towards throwing at full capacity.
Warner's trademark energy in the field was noted by the coach, but he was cagey on the question of where he would be bat in the World Cup.
"The obvious thing is we should (open with Warner)," Langer said. "But I think he's quite an adaptable player, too.
"What I've loved is the partnership between Finchy (captain Aaron Finch) and Usman Khawaja as well. They gel really well and in the past Finch and Warner gelled really well.
"I'm not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, but we've got really good options there."
The national coach said his only concern was the break between the end of the Pakistan series in the UAE in early April and this week's resumption of cricket which has disrupted the winning momentum of a side that swept Pakistan and overturned a 0-2 deficit to win a five-match series in India.
"My main concern is we've had a month's break at the end of the Pakistan series," Langer conceded.
"Guys were weary at end of long taxing summer but we were match-hardened and battle-hardened and had a great sense of confidence.
"We're working back up towards it. That's why we're having these practice games (against a New Zealand XI in Brisbane this week).
"Certainly, there's a real good feeling in the group. Being the coach is like being a dad of a happy family. It's great to see this development over 12 months to where we feel like a really tight-knit group going over."
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 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