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A new era of Australian cricket starts tonight

David Lord Columnist

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    Australia's Glenn Maxwell bats. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

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    Justin Langer will call on all his gritty batting in a baggy green when he names his team to meet England at The Oval tonight in the first of five ODIs.

    The 47-year-old starts his new career as Australian coach minus Steve Smith and David Warner still under suspension and Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell March, all injured.

    That’s a massive 419 ODI caps of talent and experience missing for the entire series.

    To magnify his problems, Glenn Maxwell just can’t get among the runs with just 92 from his last nine matches in the shorter formats, although Langer is convinced he’s close to a big score.

    We’ve lost count of how many selectors have said exactly the same over the years.

    So does Langer play Maxwell tonight?

    He knows Maxwell will be a huge bonus in the field, but if Langer sticks with his conviction to play normal opener Aaron Finch to stiffen the brittle middle order, someone will miss out to slot Maxwell in.

    If that’s the case Langer will have to find a new opener to partner D’Arcy Short with Travis Head and skipper Tim Paine the alternatives.

    Head cracked 106 opening against Middlesex at Lord’s in the warm-up game won by 101 runs, but only three down the order against Sussex at Brighton in the 57-run victory.

    Let’s stick with Head, as Langer is keen to promote Marcus Stoinis to the vital number three slot after his century against Sussex, followed by Shaun Marsh, and Finch, the most capped player in the side with 88 matches to his name.

    If Langer takes the punt on Maxwell he’d bat six, with the skipper seven, followed by left-arm spinning all-rounder Ashton Agar, and three quicks – Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye, and Kane Richardson.

    So paceman Michael Neser would miss his debut, and leave an attack of the three quicks plus Agar, and the part-time spinners of Head, Short, Finch and Maxwell to complete the 50 overs.

    Is the Maxwell punt too big, or worth it?

    If Langer’s right and Maxwell is so close to a big score, there would be no better time than tonight to set up the series for the Australians.

    One thing is for sure – if Maxwell tees off it would be big runs in a hurry, and a real bonus if he happens to be batting with Finch and he’s on fire as well.

    That would be moraly damaging for England, still reeling after being beaten by Scotland for the first time. The loss was as big a shock as Don Bradman’s famous last Test duck in 1948, which was also at The Oval.

    But England has more than that defeat to overcome with two of their best in Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes out of action for the series with injury.

    So the new era of Australian cricket gets underway at 10pm (AEST) tonight. There are question marks all over the park which makes this series opener very different from the norm.

    We just don’t know what to expect.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles

    State of Origin 2 is here, with the Blues looking to wrap the 2018 series up and the Maroons hoping to keep it alive and force a decider. Follow along with our NSW vs QLD Origin 2 live scores and blog.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • June 13th 2018 @ 3:14pm
      JayG said | June 13th 2018 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

      Is it just me or does it sound like Langer is the new captain of the Australian cricket team? In most other teams, it is the captain doing these team selections. It does not seem like Tim Paine gets a say in much of any of these decisions – if that is the case, it makes me wonder why he was retained as captain?

    • June 13th 2018 @ 4:38pm
      J.T. Delacroix said | June 13th 2018 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

      The bookies have England installed as firm favourites despite having just lost to Scotland. Excellent performance by the Scots, but is a severely depleted Australian line up worse than Scotland? We shall see. I think England will be under more pressure than the Australians. Should be interesting.

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