Langer to lead Prime Minister's XI
The retired Justin Langer will make a one-off appearance this month to captain the Prime Minister's XI against New Zealand in Canberra. Langer will lead a side featuring several players on the fringes of the national setup, including the top-order batsmen Phillip Hughes and Michael Klinger.
Both men will be keen to impress at Manuka Oval on January 29 to increase their chances of winning a spot on February's tour of South Africa. The batsmen Callum Ferguson and George Bailey also earned selection along with the Tasmania wicketkeeper Tim Paine and the young Victoria left-arm spinner Jon Holland, who made his state debut this season.
The young group will benefit from the experience of Langer, who retired from Australian domestic cricket at the end of last summer. He made another one-off comeback in the All-Star Twenty20 match that kicked off the Australian season and his form was impressive - he made an unbeaten 52 from 43 balls.
"Few cricketers have worn the baggy green with such immense pride and distinction as Justin Langer," the prime minister Kevin Rudd said. "This is a great opportunity to again honour the momentous contribution he made to Australian cricket."
Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said Langer's presence would be a major boost for the match. "Having a great Australian cricketer like Justin leading the PM's XI will not only add great interest in the event but it will be fantastic to have him lead a group of young and talented Australian cricketers," Hilditch said.
"There has been quite a lot of change in the Australian team in the last couple of years and this game provides yet another opportunity for young Australian players to push their case for selection. All of the young players have been performing well in their respective state teams."
The squad was selected with domestic duties in mind, so neither Queensland nor Western Australia players were considered as they meet in an FR Cup match the night before the game. The Prime Minister's XI clash is the only warm-up game for New Zealand ahead of their five-match ODI series against Australia, which begins in Perth on February 1.
Prime Minister's XI squad Justin Langer (capt), Phillip Hughes, Michael Klinger, George Bailey, Callum Ferguson, Daniel Christian, Tim Paine (wk), Moises Henriques, Clint McKay, Jon Holland, Jason Behrendorff, Ashton May (12th man).