Langer silences debate
Langer resumed this morning on 88 after he had spoken to Ricky Ponting about declaring overnight, but the captain wanted his long-term batting partner to reach his first century since the final Test of the 2005 Ashes. It was a long time between three-figure bat raises and the barren patch included a head knock from Makhaya Ntini that briefly threatened his career.
Passing the Test tallies of David Boon (7422) and Mark Taylor (7525) in this match, Langer hoped his critics, particularly from New South Wales, would remember his record the next time they wanted to call for his sacking. "The frustration of the speculation of my position in the team before the match was that I'm probably in the best form of my life," he said. "It's just nice to put the runs in the bank."
On Thursday Langer opened the Test with a heavy-hitting half-century in which he felt like Michael Slater. "I didn't know how I was going to stop," he said. "In the second innings I felt more in my batting rhythm. On the first day everything was happening and it felt like it was in fast forward."
Day four was also an upbeat affair as England held on through entertaining half-centuries to Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen as they reduced the deficit from 647 to 354. The recovery on "an outstanding wicket" did not surprise Langer.
"We had 10 for 800 on it, which shows what a good batting surface it is, and England played well," he said. "Collingwood was under pressure and he came out and played a fantastic innings and Pietersen is an outstanding international cricketer, so it was what we were expecting."
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo