Northamptonshire v Australia A - Tour Match
Northamptonshire v Australia A - Tour Match

Australia names Khawaja replacement

The decimated Aussies have turned to a familiar face to replace the injured Usman Khawaja - and he could even leapfrog Pete Handscomb into the World Cup semi-final against England.

Wade and Mitchell Marsh joined the squad in Birmingham with Khawaja (hamstring) and Marcus Stoinis (both sides) breaking down in Saturday's 10-run loss to South Africa.

Handscomb drove wife Sarah's rental car four hours to join the squad in Manchester on Friday as Shaun Marsh's replacement after the West Australian broke an arm at training on Thursday.

Langer said while Khawaja's strain would sideline him for "three to four weeks" he backed the No. 3 batsman to play the first Ashes Test, which starts in Birmingham on August 1.

Stoinis is an outside chance to play the semi-final but will be replaced by Mitchell Marsh if he is ruled out. A decision will be made on Monday night.

Michael Clarke, the 2015 World Cup-winning captain, said it would be a poor look for selectors if Handscomb didn't make his World Cup debut in the semi-final.

"It doesn't look great for the selectors if they bring Handscomb in first and (Wade) second and then he jumps the queue."

But Langer said they would stick with picking a top four that could strike centuries and adapt that to facing England's bowling attack.

 

Justin Langer says it is imperative they stick with a top four that can strike centuries.
Justin Langer says it is imperative they stick with a top four that can strike centuries.

 

"Wadey has scored hundreds. We know England will play the leggie (Adil Rashid) in the middle overs, maybe Moeen (Ali)," Langer said.

"Pete (plays spin) really well."

Langer said Wade was in "career-best form" and praised Handscomb's "excellent temperament".

Wade would be a straight swap for Khawaja in the batting order at No. 3, while if Handscomb comes in he would bat at No. 4 with Steve Smith moving up to No. 3.

Langer said Australia would also consider promoting Alex Carey given his stunning striking at No. 7.

Langer credited sacked high performance boss Pat Howard for setting up the Australia A tour of England, ensuring players were battle-hardened and in close proximity if required.

Langer said it was "very, very important" to take down England openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy.

 

Coach Justin Langer and assistant Ricky Ponting have a couple of big decisions to make.
Coach Justin Langer and assistant Ricky Ponting have a couple of big decisions to make.

 

"That's where we went wrong (against South Africa)," he said.

"We had a pretty average game - two amazing cameo performances in Davey and Alex Carey - but not enough of us turned up.

"We didn't stick to our game. They were 0/70 after the first 10 - we pride ourselves on trying to take wickets early, we pride ourselves on keeping wickets available in the first 10.

"Bairstow and Roy are a huge part of England's success and we'll be doing everything we can to nullify that.

 

"One thing I'd say about (the South Africa game) is falling 10 runs short, we didn't play particularly well so that's a positive for us."

While Bairstow fired up the English media last week when he accused icons including Michael Vaughan of wanting the team to fail, Langer said "we won't get into that sort of rubbish".

"We've played them twice, we've played them in a practice game, we beat them twice.

"We've got the players and the camaraderie and the character and the feeling in the group to do it again.

"It's going to be a really flat wicket which will change game plans a little bit, unlike what we saw at Lord's and a little bit at Hampshire (practice game)."

While teams batting first are 27-14 in the World Cup, with only one successful run chase of more than 250, Langer said that was due to the pressure of the tournament rather than the wickets.

The England media are set to pile expectation on the hosts but Langer said his men would be under just as much pressure.

"When it gets to the game, they (England) won't be worried about (winning to get the final on) free-to-air TV or what Michael Vaughan or anyone else says," Langer said.

"They will be thinking about beating us in the semi-final."

News Corp Australia


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