Australia head coach Justin Langer has hinted on Tuesday that wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade could be promoted up the order to open and that Marnus Labuschagne would bat at his usual position of one-down in the first Test of the upcoming four-match series against India.
A groin injury to David Warner and a concussion scare of Will Puckovski has created a dearth in Australia’s opening options. And there are also doubts over Joe Burns who has had a terrible season. He failed in both the warm-up games.
Amid these developments, Labuschagne had expressed his desire to open the innings if the team management asked him to do so. However, Langer has downplayed the possibility.
“Marnus won’t be opening. He does amazing job at number three. Steve Smith does an amazing job at number four and we will try to stay as settled as possible…they’ve done terrific jobs in those positions. Marnus won’t be opening so we have got Joe Burns and Harris who are the openers, we have got tough decisions to make but as I have said before, tough decisions are good decisions, which means we have competition for spots,” said Langer.
“We have to pick our best six…and that is all part of jigsaw puzzle. There are a lot of balls in the air. I wish we could be definite, not just for you but for our players too. But until we get a few things ticked off ,we can’t make any decisions yet,” he added,
The Australia head coach further said that though Burns remains a contender, he recognises the need to have runs under the belt.
“I have seen Joe, been talking to him last week or so and I have been privately and publicly backing Joe all the time. He is a very good player. You don’t lose your talent overnight. He also understands that the runs are the greatest currency or value to any player,” said Langer.
On the possibility of Wade playing, Langer said that mental and physical toughness makes him a favourite for the opening spot.
“He (Wade) could handle opening spot. He could handle anywhere. He is tough, both mentally and physically. He has got the footwork. He has got the game to counterattack like David Warner does, like all great openers do. They don’t just have strong defence but they counter-attack as well. He can definitely do it,” said Langer.
“He is great. Wade is so well regarded. He was the vice-captain when Pat (Cummins) was away in the white-ball team. He is so tough, physically, mentally, has a great attitude in the game. He is an unbelievable team man. His development within Australian cricket team. He did what I talked about two years ago, you have to bang so hard on the door to get a chance and whoever would have thought from where he comes from to where he is now, into all three forms of the game. He is a very, very important part of our team. As a batsman, like we saw against New Zealand last year, he fights hard, got good footwork. He is tough and he can counter-attack and we know how aggressive he can be. So he is a very important part of our batting line-up and our team because of leadership,” added Langer.