The Ashes 2010-11 November 17, 2010

Langer keeps faith in Hussey and North

39

Justin Langer believes Marcus North and Michael Hussey will make it through the Ashes as long as they stay focused and ignore the mountain of distractions. Langer, Australia's batting coach, was under similar pressure for his spot before the 2006-07 campaign and expects the struggling pair to be on duty at the Gabba next week.

The Australian contenders are having a difficult time securing their places ahead of the series, with Hussey (0), North (17), Usman Khawaja (13) and Callum Ferguson (7) failing in their various matches on Wednesday. However, Langer retains faith in the battling incumbents.

"Marcus North has got five hundreds in 19 Tests," Langer told ESPNcricinfo. "Mike Hussey basically averages 50 in Test cricket. They are very, very good players. What they have to do is eliminate the distraction of what has happened in the past and concentrate on getting balance in their stance and being ready for the first ball.

"You don't lose your talent and your ability. Sometimes because of distractions you might lose a little bit of focus. They're good enough and been around long enough."

Langer said the same approach is necessary for Ricky Ponting if he is to reach his peak against England. "Hussey and Ponting are absolute warriors of Australian cricket," Langer said. "I'm very confident that if they get their focus right they'll be fine and they're a very important part of us winning back the Ashes."

Australia named a huge 17-man squad on Monday for the opening Test, with the influx of new talent adding to the distractions of the under-pressure senior players. The outfit will be trimmed over the weekend and Langer understands what it's like to be a target before a major series.

"In 2006-07 there was a lot of conjecture about my place because Phil Jaques was doing well," he said. "The day that they announced the 12 players to be selected and I knew that I was in that side, the whole world was off my shoulders and then I could just focus and concentrate on playing the first Test."

In his new book Australia You Little Beauty - the English edition is called Keeping My Head - Langer writes about the moments in the 2005 Ashes when the pressure became too much.

The breaking point arrived during the third Test at Old Trafford when Langer, who was not out on the fourth evening, went back to the team hotel and was taunted by a couple of Barmy Army supporters. He almost punched one of them. "The pressure of the Ashes has built to bursting point," he wrote of the day.

Langer said the players in this series could escape those sorts of troughs by ignoring the distractions. "Mental toughness is being able to concentrate on what's important," he said. "It sounds simple, but it's the whole essence of peak performance.

"There are going to be so many distractions: media hype, all the stuff in public, worrying about winning or not winning the Ashes, thoughts about personal form, what's happened in the last week or two, thinking about their position in the side. All those things are pure and simple distractions. All that really matters is the contest between bat and ball and the psyches of each player on Thursday the 25th at the Gabba."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SettingSun on November 19, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    @popcorn - even your attempts at looking optimistic and cocky are looking old and tired - much like your team!

  • on November 18, 2010, 17:43 GMT

    If aussies are gonna win the ashes they need Hussey and northy to be in the team 1 performance of callum ferguson in the shield doesnt prove he will have a good series hemay also have ups and down in his cricketing life .same thing now hussey is a little bit tensed he has a lot of passion for this game no one else would have that so huss u are the writ man by whom aussies will win

  • seagrip on November 18, 2010, 17:08 GMT

    Interesting comparison of a few of australia's likely bowlers (Hilf and Siddle) in first class cricket: Siddle vs Clint McKay, Batting: Clint McKay wins - 4 runs per innings better over career, Bowling: Clint McKay wins - 2.35 runs per wicket better over career. Hilfenahus vs Andrew McDonald, Batting: Andrew McDonald wins - 28 per innings better over career, Bowling: Andrew McDonald wins - 0.05 runs per wicket better over career. You could perform equally alarming comparisons against the likes of Callum Ferguson in the squad ahead of Phil Hughes/Jacques. And Marcus North too!! Get the selectors OUT!

  • popcorn on November 18, 2010, 12:33 GMT

    That's the spirit, Alfie! All you guys who want Hussey and Noth out of the Test side, read Justin Langer's piece. And he knows - he's been in those situations, and has performed! So have Huss and Northy! Australia is a solid side and will win the Ashes 4 nil or 3 nil.

  • Timsam on November 18, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    An Aussie team selected on form might look something like this: 1. Watson 2. Katich 3. Ponting 4.Clarke 5.North 6. McDonald 7. Haddin 8. Smith 9. Johnson 10. Hlifenhaus 11. Bollinger

    A reflection that the batting is currently brittle and the fourth bowling option is a problem. North is retained on the basis of his good record against England, as well as short burst variety with Smith, who is not a strike bowler yet, but could be a counter-attack in the batting stakes if, as will happen, there is a collapse. McDonald is scoring runs and can tie up an end with his medium pace.

    I agree that Huss, legend that he's been in the past, doesn't look like making a score in the longer form of cricket.

  • on November 18, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Martin Love and Brad Hodge all scored centuries before being axed!!.. seems they weren't quite the right fit to be in the squad!...

  • Benkl on November 18, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    Husseys form is strange ... he is still batting well in one day which is harder on the eye and his recent test form is not that bad a few centuries and his recent form will be over 50 . Also will Clarke last he seems to be performing worse and worse ?

    You can forget Jaques and Warner vs the english attack so what does that leave ? Id swap North for White and give Hauritz spot to Harris . Brisbane will be a green deck and we should take 4 fast bowlers to see who to take for the rest ( when we bring back Hauritz from 12th man). Johnson is always a risk so IMHO you take Johnson or a spinner not both , time and time again we have had 2 very tired bowlers due to Johnson being to wayward.

  • Bigbanger666 on November 18, 2010, 0:10 GMT

    Memo Justin: Not scoring any runs is not a distraction its a deal breaker. Get these guys out now. They haven't been in Aus best 11 for 18 months.

  • NewYorkCricket on November 17, 2010, 22:32 GMT

    Why is Pil Jaques not in the team? He scored a century in the last test he played and averages over 45?

  • David47 on November 17, 2010, 21:02 GMT

    No Justin - avoiding destructions is the key to Ashes success - something our batsmen haven't done in the games currently being played.

  • SettingSun on November 19, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    @popcorn - even your attempts at looking optimistic and cocky are looking old and tired - much like your team!

  • on November 18, 2010, 17:43 GMT

    If aussies are gonna win the ashes they need Hussey and northy to be in the team 1 performance of callum ferguson in the shield doesnt prove he will have a good series hemay also have ups and down in his cricketing life .same thing now hussey is a little bit tensed he has a lot of passion for this game no one else would have that so huss u are the writ man by whom aussies will win

  • seagrip on November 18, 2010, 17:08 GMT

    Interesting comparison of a few of australia's likely bowlers (Hilf and Siddle) in first class cricket: Siddle vs Clint McKay, Batting: Clint McKay wins - 4 runs per innings better over career, Bowling: Clint McKay wins - 2.35 runs per wicket better over career. Hilfenahus vs Andrew McDonald, Batting: Andrew McDonald wins - 28 per innings better over career, Bowling: Andrew McDonald wins - 0.05 runs per wicket better over career. You could perform equally alarming comparisons against the likes of Callum Ferguson in the squad ahead of Phil Hughes/Jacques. And Marcus North too!! Get the selectors OUT!

  • popcorn on November 18, 2010, 12:33 GMT

    That's the spirit, Alfie! All you guys who want Hussey and Noth out of the Test side, read Justin Langer's piece. And he knows - he's been in those situations, and has performed! So have Huss and Northy! Australia is a solid side and will win the Ashes 4 nil or 3 nil.

  • Timsam on November 18, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    An Aussie team selected on form might look something like this: 1. Watson 2. Katich 3. Ponting 4.Clarke 5.North 6. McDonald 7. Haddin 8. Smith 9. Johnson 10. Hlifenhaus 11. Bollinger

    A reflection that the batting is currently brittle and the fourth bowling option is a problem. North is retained on the basis of his good record against England, as well as short burst variety with Smith, who is not a strike bowler yet, but could be a counter-attack in the batting stakes if, as will happen, there is a collapse. McDonald is scoring runs and can tie up an end with his medium pace.

    I agree that Huss, legend that he's been in the past, doesn't look like making a score in the longer form of cricket.

  • on November 18, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Martin Love and Brad Hodge all scored centuries before being axed!!.. seems they weren't quite the right fit to be in the squad!...

  • Benkl on November 18, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    Husseys form is strange ... he is still batting well in one day which is harder on the eye and his recent test form is not that bad a few centuries and his recent form will be over 50 . Also will Clarke last he seems to be performing worse and worse ?

    You can forget Jaques and Warner vs the english attack so what does that leave ? Id swap North for White and give Hauritz spot to Harris . Brisbane will be a green deck and we should take 4 fast bowlers to see who to take for the rest ( when we bring back Hauritz from 12th man). Johnson is always a risk so IMHO you take Johnson or a spinner not both , time and time again we have had 2 very tired bowlers due to Johnson being to wayward.

  • Bigbanger666 on November 18, 2010, 0:10 GMT

    Memo Justin: Not scoring any runs is not a distraction its a deal breaker. Get these guys out now. They haven't been in Aus best 11 for 18 months.

  • NewYorkCricket on November 17, 2010, 22:32 GMT

    Why is Pil Jaques not in the team? He scored a century in the last test he played and averages over 45?

  • David47 on November 17, 2010, 21:02 GMT

    No Justin - avoiding destructions is the key to Ashes success - something our batsmen haven't done in the games currently being played.

  • KarachiKid on November 17, 2010, 20:59 GMT

    In Australia, and most of the time elsewhere, Aussiess are relentless fighters. England off late has not really come under decent pressure. In pressure, their, team will surely crumble. I dont think Aussies are that bad that they will not pose any sort of challenge. Anderson and Broad are dont really comprise an all-weaither pace attack. Finn is pretty much un-tested, bagging wickets against abject Pakistani Lineup or Bangladeshis does not really tell you much. Their only good bowler that can prevail in any conditions is Swan. Batting wise also, I feel the lineup is slightly brittle. When the push comes to shuv, I predict Aussies will prevail.

  • diri on November 17, 2010, 13:31 GMT

    Going to be a close series....but england should take it 3-1

  • JosRoberts on November 17, 2010, 13:12 GMT

    @Biggus - I think the more pressing point is to learn to spell his team mates' names. E.g. "Hauritz" and "Mitchell"! ;-)

  • Okakaboka on November 17, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Geez, the only Batsmen to make runs today were bowlers.....Johnson and Smith. Oh, I think Smith maybe a pretend leggie who is actually a real batsman.....If you know what I mean. The selection blunders were highlighted today. North was dismissed by a McDonald thunderbolt....um....sorry....!!! You know what I'm saying. Hussey....0!!! Ferguson IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE OF TEST STANDARD. Even White, for all his talent, is now in a bad patch. I blame the selectors for this. He should have been selected long ago and he has had his confidence shattered. Consistent rejection when you are performing well has a catastrophic effect on ones confidence and can cause a form slump. Well done you dope Hilditch........You watch...when we are 2 tests to love down our intrepid incompetent selector will swing in the changes...and it will be too late!!! McDonald proved today he is a necessary part of the bowling attack. Geez, I hope he makes 160 tomorrow just to put an Ostrich egg all over the selectors.

  • on November 17, 2010, 12:20 GMT

    I think doherty should play instead of hauritz...Hauritz can only take wickets against Pakistaan.

  • on November 17, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    Huseey is Mr. Cricket . so there is no doubt in his playing. He would simply be the best in the oz team.

  • on November 17, 2010, 10:24 GMT

    What as a fan of aussie cricket i want is this team 1)Ricky ponting(C) 2)Simon katich 3)Shane watson 4)M clarke 5)Mike hussey 6)Marcus north 7)B haddin 8)Mitchel johnson 9)N houritz / X doherty 10)D bollinger 11)R harris this X1 would be considered as the best team for ashes

  • Biggus on November 17, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    @Mitchell Johnson-What are you doing here?Get back to the nets mate!

  • Beertjie on November 17, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    @gzawilliam, agree totally. Like Hayden before him, he's a legendary has-been now and needs to be replaced before we lose, not afterwards! Only a second innings century can save him from the chop. More and more it's beginning to look like a bowl-out at the Gabba, just like at today's SCG game. In that case, we won't need Hauritz/Doherty, so North should play (as much for his bowling as his batting) as a safeguard spinner. Then we can play Johnson (as much for his batting as for his bowling) as well as Harris, Hilfenhaus and Bollinger. Talk about "losing a little bit of focus because of distractions" - for once, I'm glad I'm not one of the 17!

  • Beertjie on November 17, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    @gzawilliam, agree totally. Like Hayden before him, he's a legendary has-been now and needs to be replaced before we lose, not afterwards! Only a second innings century can save him from the chop. More and more it's beginning to look like a bowl-out at the Gabba, just like at today's SCG game. In that case, we won't need Hauritz/Doherty, so North should play (as much for his bowling as his batting) as a safeguard spinner. Then we can play Johnson (as much for his batting as for his bowling) as well as Harris, Hilfenhaus and Bollinger. Talk about "losing a little bit of focus because of distractions" - for once, I'm glad I'm not one of the 17!

  • Ozcricketwriter on November 17, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    If Hussey has to go for a career average of 50 and an average in the last 3 years of 39 then North has to go first, as his overall average is worse than Hussey's "bad patch". If both go, fair enough, but if only 1 goes, it has to be North.

    Out of the squad of 17, I think that only Steve Smith is a safe replacement (Khawaja is untried at international level and is too new, while Ferguson has a terrible FC record), which to me means that Hussey is safe for the 1st test at least while North should go.

  • on November 17, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    HUSSEY IS 35 i agree e is one of the best test batsman .As langer has said hussey should keep away from the distraction he was writ.The thing people dont know is that if a player scores century or in form they support him and if he goes out of form they ignore him .Same thing is with hussey every player has up and down in their carrier .same thing with hussey.Australian selectors did a good job to select him but they should also think the same thing that he can perform well in the ashes .Hussey is one of my favourite batsman he has his own passion for cricket . All those people who ignore him now will come to know about him in the upcoming ashes He will get chance to play in all 5 test in ashes.Never mind of those youngster Usman and Ferguson.they are only beginners .hussey and north have played a lot and they are legends so they will be picked in the ashes

  • longrun on November 17, 2010, 8:38 GMT

    hussey has to go unfortunately. it is time to move forward. smith played well today and should get a gig batting 7, with haddin at 6. a change is required, and more may be required next test too if north fails in brisbane. don't want too many changes per game and smith in now would be the right thing to do. looking forward to seeing okeefe bowl tomorrow too. why are all the curators preparing green tops? i reckon the 8 blokes vying for top 6 spot in bris got about 20 runs between them today at various venues. not the ideal preparation australia to win 2-1

  • on November 17, 2010, 8:31 GMT

    Cameron Jones ... i agree! love that line up.

  • on November 17, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    Really not going that well for the aussies. It would appear that they are not thriving under the pressure for places.The worst thing Australia can do is to stick with Hussey. An 18 ball duck is proof that he is tentative and too desperate not to get out as opposed to trying to find form. PS why did Katich not open in the 2nd dig?

  • arvarma345 on November 17, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    inconsistent batting/bowling line up is the problem.the team is not able to convert their efforts to victories.so batsmen has to be more consistent.bowlers has to be devastating.play natural attacking cricket than to be defensive. at present inform cameroon white is required in the team. quick bowlers like nannes/tait/wise are required along with s.clark&siddle to strengthen bowling

  • on November 17, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    For goodness sake just drop North. Hussey should only play 2-3 tests especially 5th, he will score a ton. 1. Watson 2. Hughes 3. Ponting 4. Hussey 5. Clarke 6. White 7. Haddin 8. Johnson 9. Hilfenhaus 10. Krezja 11. Harris

    Ideal for 1st test

  • gzawilliam on November 17, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    Yes Justin we all agree that Hussey is a great player. Past and maybe the future. BUT.. But does he deserve to be playing in our country's Best test team? Is his form getting any better? NO to both.

    I cannot see how hussey can be picked now after another duck for WA. And a long 18ball duck at that. We really need to stop this mates picks mates crap and pick he really deserves the spot via form, future development of our test team and suitability to playing the english attack.

    In my eye's he ticks none of these boxes.

    How are we going to beat england with players who are and have been seriously struggling for form for the last 2 years? Especially seeing as all of englands players are in form.

  • johnnycash on November 17, 2010, 6:19 GMT

    the plan is working, just keep luring the poms into the trap, give them the false sense of security. being in brisbane and knowing that rain and showers are forecast for the next week, it could come down to the toss, as has happened elsewhere in australia today on soggy wickets. Hussey and North will both play, and so they should be given their chances.

  • Nadeem1976 on November 17, 2010, 6:09 GMT

    The way australians are batting these days, it seems like England is going to win the ashes. But wait. Where is australiazm. That is the only thing which can stop england now. If Hussey can play innings like sydney test and T2020 WC semi final against pakistan then any body from Australia can do wonder.

    I will not be surprized that australia wins this series but if loses then Ponting has to leave test cricket. Give chance to new generation and go home.

    This can be last series for ponting or can be a start of new era for him , who knows.

    Long live KP and Ponting. Lets see who wins this time around. 50-50 chances now.

  • on November 17, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    Hussey and North will get the nod for the first test but, with the likely hood that both will fail, the ozzys could be looking down the barrel after brisbane.c mon england.c mon england

  • nmdasaya on November 17, 2010, 5:36 GMT

    D Hussy shud atleast b selected for test squad.he is da inform batsman

  • crankypete on November 17, 2010, 5:32 GMT

    picking langer in 06-7 was an equally big mistake. after fluky nicking in the first test his top score was 37. he should have been dropped (athough i would never have brought him back after Ntini tonked him - again) and a kid given a go once we were 3-0.

  • landl47 on November 17, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    A pity that Hussey got 0 and North 17, but at least Khawaja and Ferguson got more runs- 20 between them against England's second team. Not to worry, the established players will see Australia through. How did they get on? Watson 6, Katich 1, Ponting 7, Haddin 10. Hey, Justin- do you think they've got their focus right yet?

  • on November 17, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    Although I'd agree that Hussey and North have good records, in Hussey's case a great record, I still don't believe that you can ignore recent form if it appears to be part of a trend.

  • Stouffer on November 17, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    Hussey is 35, and his average is only above 50 because he had such an amazing start to his career and was averaging in the 80s for some time. As an Englishman I'm not unhappy to have him playing, same with North, who might score a century in the series but will probably also fail several times.

  • on November 17, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    And the mates continue to stick up for each other. Bad news Justin, Hussey's not going to get any better at this rate, he's been on a monumental slide for years now and will continue to get weaker as more and more bowling attacks around the world continue to figure him out and capitalise. Jesus, he couldn't even get off the mark today and he's still being talked of a a 'mighty warrior', give me a break. And talk of his average, is a straw tactic. What about the fact that his average used to be in the 80s? Do you want to reflect on that for a moment Justin?

  • MinusZero on November 17, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    Of course he would, Its such a boys club. No outsiders are allowed in. Its that attitude that needs to change and the best players picked, not friends of the selectors and Ponting.

  • Don_The_Green on November 17, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    Hussey and North have Test averages in line with their 1st Class averages (i.e. they are a bit below in Tests). It is crazy to think that they can perform any better than they are in the long term.

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  • Don_The_Green on November 17, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    Hussey and North have Test averages in line with their 1st Class averages (i.e. they are a bit below in Tests). It is crazy to think that they can perform any better than they are in the long term.

  • MinusZero on November 17, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    Of course he would, Its such a boys club. No outsiders are allowed in. Its that attitude that needs to change and the best players picked, not friends of the selectors and Ponting.

  • on November 17, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    And the mates continue to stick up for each other. Bad news Justin, Hussey's not going to get any better at this rate, he's been on a monumental slide for years now and will continue to get weaker as more and more bowling attacks around the world continue to figure him out and capitalise. Jesus, he couldn't even get off the mark today and he's still being talked of a a 'mighty warrior', give me a break. And talk of his average, is a straw tactic. What about the fact that his average used to be in the 80s? Do you want to reflect on that for a moment Justin?

  • Stouffer on November 17, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    Hussey is 35, and his average is only above 50 because he had such an amazing start to his career and was averaging in the 80s for some time. As an Englishman I'm not unhappy to have him playing, same with North, who might score a century in the series but will probably also fail several times.

  • on November 17, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    Although I'd agree that Hussey and North have good records, in Hussey's case a great record, I still don't believe that you can ignore recent form if it appears to be part of a trend.

  • landl47 on November 17, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    A pity that Hussey got 0 and North 17, but at least Khawaja and Ferguson got more runs- 20 between them against England's second team. Not to worry, the established players will see Australia through. How did they get on? Watson 6, Katich 1, Ponting 7, Haddin 10. Hey, Justin- do you think they've got their focus right yet?

  • crankypete on November 17, 2010, 5:32 GMT

    picking langer in 06-7 was an equally big mistake. after fluky nicking in the first test his top score was 37. he should have been dropped (athough i would never have brought him back after Ntini tonked him - again) and a kid given a go once we were 3-0.

  • nmdasaya on November 17, 2010, 5:36 GMT

    D Hussy shud atleast b selected for test squad.he is da inform batsman

  • on November 17, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    Hussey and North will get the nod for the first test but, with the likely hood that both will fail, the ozzys could be looking down the barrel after brisbane.c mon england.c mon england

  • Nadeem1976 on November 17, 2010, 6:09 GMT

    The way australians are batting these days, it seems like England is going to win the ashes. But wait. Where is australiazm. That is the only thing which can stop england now. If Hussey can play innings like sydney test and T2020 WC semi final against pakistan then any body from Australia can do wonder.

    I will not be surprized that australia wins this series but if loses then Ponting has to leave test cricket. Give chance to new generation and go home.

    This can be last series for ponting or can be a start of new era for him , who knows.

    Long live KP and Ponting. Lets see who wins this time around. 50-50 chances now.