Justin Langer: Bumrah vs Smith, Warner a tantalising prospect for any cricket lover

In a chat with Sportstar, Justin Langer spoke about India’s tour of Australia later this year, how the forced break has been a welcome rest and more.

Jasprit Bumrah will likely go up against Steve Smith and David Warner in Tests for the first time.   -  AP/GETTY IMAGES

Australia's head coach Justin Langer has expressed hope that the Boxing Day Test against India could be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) as planned. Although still five months away, the recent spike in Coronavirus cases in Victoria has raised the prospect of the Boxing Day Test being moved. 

In a chat with Sportstar, Langer spoke about India’s tour of Australia later this year, how the forced break has been a welcome rest and more.

As professionals who are used to being on the road for 300 days a year, how challenging has this sudden break been? 

It has been an unexpected but welcome break. Personally, I have enjoyed the time to refresh and be at home with my family. I know the players have felt the same about having their feet on the ground for a while. The focus now is on being ready for when we begin playing again, whenever that time comes. I am very confident we will be ready and adapt to any challenges that come our way.

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The IPL is likely to be held in October-November should the T20 World Cup be postponed. Given the circumstances, would you be comfortable with the boys touring India for the league?

Many decisions are still to be made on the future, I am sure all scenarios will be looked at. It is too early to make any comment on what the next 6-12 months looks like aside from the fact we will be ready to go when the time comes.

Cheteshwar Pujara was nearly invincible in the 2018-19 series. Do you reckon he flies under the radar a little bit when you look at the Indian side?

He certainly had a very strong series, that’s for sure. But we have come a long way since that summer and improved as a side across the board. He, like all the batsmen, will pose challenges so we just have to back ourselves and be ready. We have enormous respect for the Indian cricket team and never underestimate any of their players. Like always we will be well prepared and do our best to compete strongly against our respected opponent.

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Smith and Warner weren't around the last time India toured Australia. Now that both are back, is there one particular player contest you are looking forward to this time? 

The entire team has grown as a unit including David and Steve. It was a difficult summer 18 months ago against a very impressive side which I still rate as one of the toughest I have seen. We learnt some lessons along the way. I always enjoy seeing the best of the best going against each other and in a series like Australia versus India, there will be many great players who will put on a show. Virat (Kohli) versus Pat Cummins, Steve Smith and David Warner vs Jasprit (Bumrah). It’s a tantalising prospect for any cricket lover.

There are talks that the Boxing Day Test against India in December could be moved out of Melbourne. Do you reckon that's a good idea considering a Test like the Boxing Day game deserves a bigger crowd?

That’s not a decision for me as coach but I can guarantee no matter where Australia plays we will bring our absolute best. Of course we love playing at the MCG on Boxing Day but as we have seen around the world right now nothing is ever certain. That all said, there are few better feelings than singing the national anthem or walking onto the field in front of 80-90,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day.

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