Perth: Justin Langer virtually ensured his selection as an opener for Australia in the first Test against New Zealand in Brisbane in November with a classic century in Sheffield Shield in Perth on Saturday.
|Langer's 133 - his 50th century in first-class ranks - for Western Australia against Tasmania at the WACA Ground followed a solid 96 and 27 off the Queensland attack in the previous Shield encounter. Langer, 30, a former captain of Middlesex, recaptured his place in the Australian side for the final Test of the recent Ashes series, making an unbeaten 102 at the Oval after being selected ahead of out-of-form Michael Slater. But he needed a strong start to the new Australian season to be confident of keeping his position. Langer punished the Tasmanian attack, dominating a stand of 202 for the second wicket with another Test left-hander, Simon Katich, who made an uncharacteristically dull 75 not out. Western Australia ended the second day of the four-day game with 226 for two after Tasmania was all out in the opening session for 337. In Sydney, Greg Mail scored his second Shield century, passed 1,000 first-class runs and anchored New South Wales to a commanding lead over South Australia. NSW was 415 for nine at stumps on day two, holding an overall lead of 461, with Mail unbeaten on 142. Mail's patient innings was the antithesis to the first day's action when 20 wickets fell as NSW was bowled out for 188 and SA crumbled for 142. Mail's style blended perfectly with that of the other NSW batsmen as he formed significant partnerships with Michael Slater (49), Mark Waugh (51), Mark Higgs (53) and Stuart MacGill (53). Rain and bad light combined to foil a close finish in the match between Victoria and Queensland in Melbourne. Batsmen and fielders could barely see the ball when play was abandoned in the evening twilight with Victoria 240 for six and 72 runs short of an outright win. Champions Queensland earned two first innings points from the match. |