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AFP
June 25, 2019

England still the team to beat in WC: Langer

Sports

AFP
June 25, 2019

LONDON: Australia coach Justin Langer says England are still the team to beat at the World Cup despite their surprise loss to Sri Lanka.England’s seemingly assured path to the semi-finals now looks a lot less smooth after a 20-run reverse at Headingley followed an earlier group-stage defeat by Pakistan.

They next face arch-rivals Australia at Lord’s on Tuesday, with the reigning champions in fine form after winning five of their six pool games so far — the only blot on their record a defeat by title rivals India.

But Langer said England fully deserved their place at the top of the One-Day International rankings, having climbed to the summit from the ruins of a woeful first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup.

“They are the best team in the world. Just look at their team... nothing has changed in a week,” Langer said on Sunday.“I can’t wait for Tuesday — England at Lord’s, World Cup. That is what we are thinking about,” added the former Australia opening batsman.

Langer had a stint in the English domestic game with southwest side Somerset, where he first encountered a young Jos Buttler.The England vice-captain is now regarded as one of the quickest-scoring and most innovative batsmen in the game today, with Langer nominating the wicketkeeper-batsman as the natural successor to veteran India great MS Dhoni.

“Jos is an unbelievable player. I love watching him bat. He is the new Dhoni of world cricket,” said Langer.“I hope he gets a duck in this (Tuesday’s) game obviously, but I saw him at Somerset and he is an unbelievable athlete and an incredible finisher. “They (England) have a very strong batting unit and we will have to be right on it.”

But Australia have several in-form batsmen of their own, notably opener David Warner, who is the tournament’s current leading run-scorer with 447 from six innings.Both Warner and former captain Steve Smith are making their comebacks from year-long ball-tampering bans, with the pair roundly booed when they faced England in a World Cup warm-up match in Southampton.

Langer, asked if he expected more of the same even from the traditionally polite spectators at Lord’s, replied: “Yes, probably but that is OK.“There is nothing we can do about the crowds or the opposition. We will just go about our business.

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