Justin Langer was generous in his praise of Steve Smith, whose outstanding 80* knock at the Manuka Oval helped Australia take a 1-0 lead over Pakistan in the T20I series. Still impressed was the Australia coach with the way his squad concentrated on T20Is, given next year’s forthcoming T20 World Cup in Australia.
“He played beautifully, we know how good a player he is. He loves batting, full-stop. He wants to be out there. I think Manuka Oval is an amazing cricket ground, it was a great batting wicket and Steven (Smith) certainly took advantage,” said Langer in an interview with Cricket Australia.
Smith had a brilliant Ashes as he announced his comeback to Test cricket amassing more than 700 runs in the five-match series against England. And on Tuesday (November 5) night Smith played another gem of knock which included 11 boundaries and a six.
Continuing his praise of the batsman, Langer said Smith’s ability to adapt across different formats that makes him such a great player. “Smith’s greatest strength is his ability to solve problems, whether it’s in Test cricket or T20 cricket. That’s where he’s so good at, the best players in the world do it. The best players adapt to white or red ball, or twenty-over or Test cricket.”
Smith reclaimed his number one rank in Test cricket during the Ashes, but when it comes to the shorter formats, there is scope for improvement. However, Langer said Smith can improve his rankings in the shorter formats too looking at the way he’s been recently playing.
“Hopefully, he gets ranked one in all three formats, I think he’ll be aspiring to do that. His Test series in England was incredible, his 90 (sic) in the semi-final of the World cup was incredible and the innings he played last night was sublime. He’s getting better and better which is greater for Australian cricket, added Langer.
The T20 World Cup will be played in October next year and Australia being the hosts would be looking to claim their maiden title. The Aussies are five-time world champions in ODI cricket, but their trophy cabinet in the shortest format is still empty. Perhaps, this is their best chance to lift the trophy with them being accustomed to the conditions.
“There will certainly be far greater focus on T20 cricket with World Cup coming up. It’s a priority for Australian cricket, therefore you need to play your best players as often as you can,” said Langer about their preparations for the main event.
“I just love the way the boys are playing their roles. In T20 cricket, it depends on how your bowling unit plays and your fielding is also really important. Our bowlers have done a good job, squeezing the opposition. Our fielding has been pretty good, but that’s an area we need to keep working on.”