New coach Justin Langer is putting his own stamp on the Australian team. Picture: AFP
New coach Justin Langer is putting his own stamp on the Australian team. Picture: AFP

Langer insists it’s not over for Maxwell

JUSTIN Langer has used his licence as the new Australian coach to send a stunning message to Glenn Maxwell that he is interested in performance not potential.

The unforeseen snub of Maxwell was the biggest talking point in an experimental Test squad that features five uncapped players and the return of warhorse Peter Siddle to spearhead the post-sandpapergate era next month against Pakistan in the UAE.

It's understood Langer is highly impressed with South Australian Travis Head who has essentially snatched Maxwell's place from under him with two half centuries for Australia A in India.

Maxwell may have every right to ask why he wasn't at least given the chance to prove himself in India as Head has done over the past two weeks with the A side.

He made a Test century in spinning conditions in India last year and a massive double-century for Victoria last Shield season as part of an overall package of 700 runs at 50.

But despite how it may present as a kick in the guts, Langer insists it's not the end of the road for Maxwell in Test cricket.

Two years after it seemed Siddle had played his last Test match for Australia, the 33-year-old veteran is set to open the bowling alongside Mitchell Starc where he will resume his trademark role of trundling through a truckload of overs.

As revealed by News Corp, Aaron Finch will make his debut aged 31 opening the batting with Matt Renshaw. Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Head and Mitchell Marsh are tipped to round out the most inexperienced Australian top six in decades, sans Steve Smith and David Warner.

Khawaja with 33 caps is the new senior batsman. A vice-captain will be named in the coming weeks with Marsh the heavy favourite.

Waiting in the wings for the two-Test series starting on October 7 in Dubai will be unheralded Queensland trio Michael Neser, Marnus Labuschagne and Brendan Doggett.

Finch and Khawaja have slimmed down to the best shape of their careers and while Langer isn't promising victory, he has pledged the new-look Australia will be fit, hungry and inspired.

Langer wants Maxwell to raise the bar for himself if he wants to get back to Test cricket.

"(Maxwell) is a very good player and I was very impressed with him in England and the way he goes about his business," said Langer.

"But (like we've seen Aaron Finch do), I'd love to see Maxi score more hundreds.

"He and I have talked a lot in our brief time together about the art of concentration and watching the ball like a hawk and I'm sure if he does that more regularly, he will be making a lot more hundreds and will be much-more pickable for Test cricket."

There is something about left-hander Head that has really taken Langer's eye and it appears almost certain the 24-year-old South Australian captain will debut against Pakistan.

"I'm really impressed with Travis Head and what I've seen," he said.

 

Usman Khawaja will be Australia’s senior batsman against Pakistan. Picture: AAP
Usman Khawaja will be Australia’s senior batsman against Pakistan. Picture: AAP

 

"He has a knack of making runs."

In a similar boat to Maxwell, Joe Burns could also consider himself desperately unlucky not to have at least been taken to India with Australia A given he did solidly in the final Test in Johannesburg, taking Warner's place after the sky had fallen.

Young quick Jhye Richardson was also on that tour but has been leapfrogged by another speed demon in Doggett.

Australia believe Finch can translate his 11 ODI hundreds to the Test arena and he will be given a licence to go hard early at Pakistan in a Warner-like bid to put the hosts off their game and alleviate pressure from what will be a nervous middle-order.

"What I know about Aaron Finch is he scores hundreds and in Test cricket that's very important," he said.

 

LIKELY AUS XI

 

Aaron Finch

Matt Renshaw

Usman Khawaja

Shaun Marsh

Travis Head

Mitchell Marsh

Tim Paine

Mitchell Starc

Peter Siddle

Nathan Lyon

Jon Holland

 

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