Langer says Aussies keen to take on South Africa

Published: Monday, December 5, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Australian opener Justin Langer has issued a warning to South Africa ahead of the Test series against the Proteas later this month, indicating his team is well and truly over the Ashes defeat to England.

Responding to comments from South African captain Graeme Smith that there were "question marks" over the Australian team, particularly its middle order, Langer said he was confident of success against the tourists.

"The reality is that in six or seven years, we've lost two series," Langer said, according to a report in Monday's Australian newspaper.

"We've beaten every country, I think at home and away, we've just beaten the World XI, we've just beaten the West Indies 3-0.

"We've now got a middle order that's probably got 30,000 first-class runs between them, a top order with 60 or 70 Test hundreds and a bowling attack that has got well over a thousand wickets.

"Graeme Smith is obviously going to try and talk it up as much as he can. But at the end of the day, like we've done for so long, we'll play good cricket and if we play good cricket, we'll beat any team in the world."

Langer, who is captaining Western Australia in the three-day tour opener against the Proteas beginning Monday, stopped short of saying Australia would win the three-Test series starting at the WACA Ground on December 16.

"I think we've learned from Glenn McGrath you can't make too big a statement," he said, referring to the fast bowler's prediction of a 5-0 Australian win in the Ashes.

Smith, who was ruled out of the match against Western Australia with a finger injury, will lead a team that includes four speed bowlers, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt.

"They have got all fast bowlers basically," Langer said. "I think that it will suit them, particularly the first two grounds we play at, the WACA and the MCG."

"I think South Africa is a very good side and they've got some great players. They are very experienced, with a great work ethic, and they play hard. It is a great chance to look at them first hand."

The second and third Tests will be held in Melbourne December 26-30 and Sydney January 2-6.

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