Justin Langer described Australia’s record loss to England as “brutal” and “a shock” and said his players could not have had a worse day as they slumped to a third straight loss, handing the five-match ODI series to England.
A year out from the World Cup, Australia are ranked sixth, their lowest ranking since 1984, and the 242-run thumping at Trent Bridge was a harsh reality check for the reigning champions.
“It’s a shock,” said Langer after the game at Trent Bridge. “That is literally England at its best. It’s no fluke that they are No.1 in the world.
“I’ve never seen nothing like that today. I was in Johannesburg when Australia got 400 [434 for 4] and South Africa then got it, but that was just brutal. Hopefully our young guys can learn from it. It doesn’t get harder than that.”
None of Australia’s bowlers – and Tim Paine used eight in total – escaped the caning handed out by England’s top order, although Ashton Agar conceded a comparably ‘frugal’ seven runs per over. Andrew Tye suffered the worst punishment, his nine wicketless overs going for 100 runs.
“He’s probably one of the best people I have ever met in the game of cricket,” said Langer. “He’ll stay up but what I’ve said to him, like our batters, he’s got to learn how to bowl at the first 10 overs, the second 10 overs, and at the death.”
After a match where England scored 481, smashing the previous highest total by 37 runs, Langer compared England’s batting line-up to the Australian side that won the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, led by Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting.
“I’ve got massive respect for England and the way they are playing their cricket,” said Langer. “Their top three are brutal. The way they are playing is reminiscent of how we used to play in our day with Gilly, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting at the top.
“They have the England Test captain Joe Root batting at four and Eoin Morgan, England’s highest ever one-day scorer coming in at five, Jos Buttler who is as dynamic as anyone at the moment and Moeen Ali who is beating us with the bat and the ball – well maybe not so much the ball, but he gives them some depth. It’s a pretty sad dressing room there because you expect to win.”
In his first series as national coach, a job handed to him in the wake of an enormous upheaval that has shaken Australia on and off the field, Langer says his first job is to help the team rebuild.
“I’ve known what the task is before this game, it’s to build a team and to get better,” said Langer. “One thing I will say is that I have been impressed by their camaraderie and preparation. I mean they are young and we recognise that.
“What I do know is that you can work hard to gain at confidence. It’s a bit like working hard to gain respect. To do that we are going to have to go through some tough days like this.”
With the series lost, the remaining two games give Australia the chance to experiment further. Langer indicated he may look to bring Nathan Lyon into the side and consider playing Alex Carey as a specialist batsman. Australia have yet to bat out their 50 overs in the series so far, and while they will regain significant strike power with the return of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, their top six looks far from settled, in terms of personnel and batting order.
“We’ve got to bat against the top and against spin,” said Langer. “We need to have more rounded players. In 20-overs cricket you can get away with it as it’s more condensed, but in 50 overs you have a lot more time in the game than you think.
“For us to get bowled out in the 37th over on the best batting track in the world – there were huge missed opportunities there for some of our batters.
“Can’t have had a worse day.”
But for Langer, the immediate challenge is to take a group of young men, clearly hurting and low on confidence after such a massive defeat, pick them up, dust them off and send them out again at Chester-le-Street for the fourth ODI.
“I have to look after them all,” said Langer. “These are the days when you are like a dad, not a headmaster. We’ll look after them. It was a tough day but we’ll keep chipping away at it tomorrow.”