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'Hope they don't': Langer warns against Green opener move as McDonald confirms Smith in the frame

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7th January, 2024
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Former Australian coach and opening batter Justin Langer has urged selectors to resist naming Cameron Green as David Warner’s replacement opener for the upcoming series against the West Indies.

Australia are still mulling over who will get the first opportunity to fill Warner’s shoes when the Frank Worrell Trophy begins in Adelaide in a little over a week’s time.

Coach Andrew McDonald had previously said Green, along with specialist openers Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw, were the primary candidates being considered, but Steve Smith’s recent declaration he’d be happy to open, and reports he has been presenting his case to selectors for a number of weeks, has further muddied the waters.

However, speaking on Perth’s 6PR radio station, Langer, who formed one of Australia’s greatest ever opening partnerships with Matthew Hayden between 2001 and 2007, said the talented all-rounder’s lack of experience opening the batting in red-ball cricket should remove him from consideration – while he was against Smith’s case for the same reason.

“I hope they don’t open with him. He hasn’t opened before,” Langer said.

“The only reason he is in the discussion… is that the Australian team and selectors obviously want to get him into the team – but sometimes you have to wait.

“I believe you have to have a specialist opener. We tried this with Matthew Wade, we tried this with Aaron Finch, who selflessly did it for the team, and I am sure Cameron Green or Steve Smith might do that.

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“But I believe with India coming over next year and then the Ashes in Australia, the sooner they get into a specialist opener the better, because it is a very specialised position.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 28: Cameron Green of Australia bats during day three of the Second Test match in the series between Australia and South Africa at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 28, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

McDonald said on Sunday, following Australia’s eight-wicket victory over Pakistan at the SCG in Warner’s final Test, that it was ‘nice’ to have Smith as a willing option to open, with Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh all reportedly against changing their position in the batting order.

However, key to the selectors’ decision-making will be ‘not removing the strengths of the team’, with the veteran having been a staple at number four for the better part of a decade on either side of his 12-month suspension for his role in the ball-tampering scandal.

“Steve at three or four is pretty appetising also – so you’ve got to make sure you’re not removing the strengths of the team in the search to fill a gap also,” McDonald said of Smith.

“There’s many different ways to play as an opener – we’ve been lucky in having David Warner. Sometimes people that play that way aren’t exactly replaceable; there is not another David Warner out there.

“That’ll be considered in terms of what we look for in an opener, but it’s more what we look for in the top seven batters.

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“You have to have complementary skill sets within that and how they operate and function, because no doubt you want to have some players with that order that are able to put pressure back on the bowler.

“We’ve seen Travis Head do that with great success in the last 12 months or so.”

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The first Test against the West Indies will begin in Adelaide on January 17.

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