Langer hopes to retain opener's slot vs Kiwis

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2001, 17:57 [IST]
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Perth: Left-hander Justin Langer, having made a triumphant return to Test cricket, is now focusing on retaining an opening batting position for the three-match series against New Zealand, starting in Brisbane from November 8. Langer, 30, who had established himself at number three in the Australian order, was shattered at being dropped from the side for its opening four Ashes Tests in England, but resurrected his career with a courageous century in the fifth Test at the Oval. He had been preferred to out-of-form right-hander Michael Slater, who has also endured off-field problems. But Langer, just back from England, admitted on Saturday his first innings 102 not out against Nasser Hussain's side was no guarantee he would pad up with the seemingly secure Matthew Hayden against the Kiwis. "Absolute security does not exist in sport, particularly the Australian cricket team. I know I have to continue making runs and looking the part to retain a spot at the top of the order," Langer said. He said he planned to have an early word with Western Australian coach Mike Veletta with a view to opening for the State side in early Sheffield Shield games to boost his cause. "Ideally, I would like to open for the State with Mike Hussey, who is doing so well in England at the moment," Langer said. Hussey, also a left-hander, has had a prolific season with Northamptonshire, which has brought him back into the frame as a possible Australian Test opener in the near future. Langer had opened for Australia only once before the Oval game - his 42nd Test - but faced the new ball frequently in earlier English seasons when he skippered Middlesex in the English county competition.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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