Langer lets it spin for India without Kohli
Virat Kohli is one of the best players Justin Langer has ever seen and his absence from the last three Tests in the upcoming series will be keenly felt, the Australia coach said on Friday.
Kohli will head home after the series-opening Test at Adelaide Oval to be with his wife ahead of the birth of their first child, robbing India of their captain and star batsman.
Langer said the impact on India would be like any team taking out their best player.
“I’ve said this before, he is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons,” Langer told reporters on a video call.
“It’s not only his batting but his energy, his passion for the game, the way he fields. I cannot believe the energy he displays in everything he does.
“Are we happy he’s not playing? It’s like taking Dustin Martin out of Richmond, isn’t it?” added Langer, referring to the champion Australian Rules footballer.
Langer said he respected Kohli’s decision and would encourage his own players to miss cricket to be present for the birth of their children if it came up.
“He’s a human being like all of us... if I were giving advice to any of my players, I would always say never, ever miss the birth of your children because it is one of the great things you’ll ever do,” the former Australia opener said.
Australia were beaten by India 1-2 the last time Kohli’s side toured in 2018-19 and Langer said the hosts could ill-afford to breathe any easier without Kohli around.
“Of course it’ll have an impact but we also know that India, they beat us last time, they’re a very, very good team,” he said. “We cannot get complacent for a second with or without Virat. So we’re going to have to be on our toes all summer and we’re looking forward to that.”
Kohli, though, will play in the limited-overs Internationals on India’s tour, which kicks off with the ODI series, starting in Sydney on November 27.
Langer has hinted that he is likely to stick with Joe Burns in the opening position with David Warner for the first Test of the four-match series against India despite young Will Pucovski’s incredible form.
Burns averaged 32 for Australia last summer and had a below-par start to the Marsh Sheffield Shield season with 57 runs at 11.40.
The 22-year-old Pucovski, on the other hand, has produced successive double hundreds, scoring 202 against Western Australia after an unbeaten 255 against South Australia.
“Will Pucovski is doing everything that’s humanly possible to play that first Test, and that’s something we have to weigh up,” Langer was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“... last time we played Test cricket, we loved the combination of Joe Burns and David Warner. They’ve got a real synergy, they work well together, so at this point I’d say that’ll remain the same.”
Burns and Warner have scored 1,365 runs at 50.56 as an opening pair, playing an important role in Australia’s ascent to the top of the ICC Test rankings.
“...we should (also) never underestimate the job the guys have done to get us to where we are, and that philosophy and attitude has been a really strong part of the success of Australian cricket for a long time,” Langer said.
“We went through a period where there were lots of ins and outs, and in my view, we should back the guys in there. That can change, but it’s a pretty strong philosophy to stick to.”