Cameron Bancroft is feeling the pressure.
Cameron Bancroft is feeling the pressure.

Bancroft battling with Ashes pressure

Justin Langer admits something is amiss about Cameron Bancroft but it is selecting Australia's bowling attack for the second Ashes Test and a "really flat" Lord's pitch that have him stewing.

Bancroft tallied 15 runs in the series opener then missed out on a big score in two innings against Worcestershire last week, prompting some to suggest he could be on his final chance.

The incumbent is fully expected to open alongside David Warner in the Test that starts on Wednesday, with his matchwinning knock in the intra-squad match prior to Edgbaston still at the forefront of selectors' minds.

Bancroft dropped two slips catches in Worcester, all the evidence Langer needed to know it was time for a chat to tell the opener to try to relax.

"It's so unusual to see him drop catches. It's possibly that his mind is not clear at the moment," Langer said.

"But I'm sure he'll be absolutely fine.

"I'll catch up with him today - he is probably just trying a bit hard at the moment.

"He's achieved that goal (of a Test return), he thought it might have taken a lot longer. He just has to re-set his goals, clear his mind and just relax a bit."

Australia are weighing up whether to rejig the in-form incumbent attack by recalling Josh Hazlewood or Mitchell Starc as they pursue a 2-0 series lead.

Overlooking Hazlewood and Starc in Birmingham was one of the boldest decisions the current selection panel has made.

It proved a masterstroke as recalled Victorians James Pattinson and Siddle played key roles with ball and bat to help the visitors triumph by 251 runs. Langer agreed it would take some courage to break with tradition by changing a winning side.

"It's going to be a really tight call between two of them or three," Australia's coach said.

"Whoever misses out, it's going to be tough - they are all very, very good bowlers.

"I'm sure we will make a decision in the next day or so."

Langer is keeping coy about his thoughts, keen to keep England guessing.

 

However horses for courses has been a key part of his blueprint to breaking Australia's 18-year Ashes drought in England.

He and captain Tim Paine's first look at the Lord's Test strip gave them plenty to think about.

"The wicket is really interesting. It looks like it's going to be a really flat wicket," Langer said.

"It's quite dry."

Siddle's relative lack of pace could put him at risk of being dropped in favour of Hazlewood, although it would be a huge call to axe somebody described by Langer as "almost the bowler of the game" after the first Test.

Mitchell Johnson recently suggested Starc should come into the XI for Pattinson because he'd be a potent point of difference on the Lord's slope.

LANGER WORRIED ABOUT CUMMINS' DURABILITY

 

Pat Cummins and Justin Langer both want Australia's spearhead to play all five Tests against England but the latter doubts whether it is "humanly possible".

The vexed issue of workload management will come to the fore this month as the tourists, having opted for a battery of six quicks in their Ashes squad at the cost of a back-up spinner, seek to record their first Ashes series win in England since 2001.

Cummins, James Pattinson and Siddle all enjoyed a decent break between the first and second Tests, having skipped the tour game in Worcester after helping bowl Australia to victory in Birmingham.

But there are just three days between the second and third Tests, while the turnaround between the fourth and final Tests is just as tight. "In theory, you would like him (Cummins) to play all five Tests," Langer told reporters.

"But I am not sure it's humanly possible.

"Those back-to-back Test matches, it depends a lot on how much he bowls.

"Depends on how the games goes - how much batting there is in between. Whether we've bowled last or we've bowled in the third innings of the game. All those things will come into it."

Cummins delivered 44.3 overs in the series opener, his highest workload in an overseas Test since bowling 53 overs in Cape Town and 46.5 overs in Johannesburg on last year's ill-fated tour of South Africa.

The express paceman suffered a back injury after that taxing stretch against the Proteas, which forced him to miss the ensuing Test tour of the UAE.

Cummins, preparing to play his first Test at Lord's when the series continues on Wednesday, is hopeful he can prove Langer wrong.

"Everyone would like to play all five," the world's top-ranked Test bowler said.

"I'll be hoping to play every game and, if I'm fully fit and bowling well, I expect to."

News Corp Australia


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