Justin Langer and selectors have a week to work out the answers to their World Cup questions. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Justin Langer and selectors have a week to work out the answers to their World Cup questions. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Langer ponders final pieces of selection puzzle

AUSTRALIA are "funnelling" their World Cup squad into a best XI as coach Justin Langer declares picking Saturday's team to play Afghanistan is the hardest part of his job.

Langer said the inclusions of Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc since Australia's successful tours of India and the UAE had impacted the roles of other key players.

"We've said all along we've got to work out what's best for the team," Langer told the Herald Sun.

"The discussions we have are Usman (Khawaja) and (Aaron) Finch have batted so well together. In Uzzie's last 10 games he's got five 50s and two 100s opening the batting for Australia.

"Finchy's captain and a great opener and then Davey (Warner) comes back and has been brilliant opening the batting for Australia.

"And Shaun Marsh, where do you bat him? At No. 3 or No. 4 or at No. 5 and not play an allrounder? His record - he's averaged 60-odd in the last 12 months in one-day cricket for Australia.

"It's just so complex."

Australia's biggest headaches appear to be which batsman should support Finch, Warner and Smith and which bowler should support Starc, Pat Cummins, and Adam Zampa.

All-rounder Glenn Maxwell and wicketkeeper Alex Carey are also certain to face Afghanistan, leaving just three places in the team.

They will be used on Khawaja, Marsh or all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and one of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff or Kane Richardson.

It is understood Warner will replace Khawaja as Finch's opening partner.

Shaun Marsh has been one of Australia’s best ODI performers over the last two years.
Shaun Marsh has been one of Australia’s best ODI performers over the last two years.

If Marsh replaces an all-rounder that will most likely force Stoinis to the bench, although that seems unlikely given his straight hitting power and clever death bowling.

"If you're trying to work it out, I've got coaches around a table in London (last week) and if there's 10 of them there's five different point of views," Langer said.

"Some would say Dave should open, some would say Uzzie should open, some say Shaun should play.

"That's the job of a selector - it's so complex. If Uzzie doesn't open some will say, 'Oh you should've opened with Uzzie' or the whole world will say, 'You've got to open with Dave Warner'.

"But I've also watched a bit of cricket in my time and I also know about opening partnerships and gelling together. It's not simple.

"We're getting closer - we have to, we're playing (this week). We've also said the whole time it's really good to have that adaptability."

News Corp Australia


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