‘Absolutely ludicrous’: Langer seethes
JUSTIN Langer insists that "absolutely ludicrous" Cape Town claims and Barmy Army barbs will not sidetrack Australia's World Cup defence.
Langer's team have turned the corner and banked eight consecutive ODI victories during their greatest winning streak in the 50-over format since the 2015 World Cup.
But the sandpaper scandal is what continues to dominate discussion in Australian cricket circles, especially given last week marked the end of Steve Smith and David Warner's year-long bans.
Langer is still fuming about a report that suggested Australia's bowling attack refused to play alongside Warner last year after the ball-tampering furore.
Widespread interest in the story, and Ian Healy's allegations that it wasn't a one-off case of tampering as Smith and everybody at Cricket Australia (CA) continues to insist, underlines how the issue simply won't go away.
English tabloids and fans are fully expected to offer daily reminders of the shameful saga that unfolded at Newlands last year.
"We know that's going to happen and we know we'll get it through the Barmy Army. We'll be really well prepared for that, we'll have strategies," Langer said.
"You've heard me say about 'careless whispers' ... that one about the boys going to boycott the team is absolutely ludicrous.
"You would not believe how much it does (annoy me).
"What we can control is what we're doing ... otherwise you get sidetracked."
Langer has previously noted it would be unfair on the team plus Smith and Warner if they just returned to the fold without any sort of plan.
Warner's relationships with some members of the squad remain strained but he and Smith broke the ice with teammates during a one-day stop over in Dubai en route to the IPL.
Langer suggested the banned duo's reintegration process is now essentially complete, declaring they will make seamless returns to the fold during a World Cup training camp in Brisbane next month.
"There won't be any awkwardness. Everyone got on (in Dubai), it was like two brothers returning to the family," Langer said.
"All they want to do is play cricket. They don't want to be politicians.
"They're playing really good cricket now ... they're out there at the moment (in the IPL), doing what they love doing.
"They would have learned some good lessons, we've all learned some good lessons and now they're looking forward to putting those lessons into practice."
Langer on Monday admitted some players will be "brutally unlucky" as he faces a World Cup selection dilemma with the return of Smith and Warner.
The defending champions must name their 15-man squad this month for the tournament in England and Wales and Langer said the make-up was becoming clear on the back of the resurgent team's stunning eight-game one-day win streak against India and Pakistan.
"It's actually becoming more obvious by the day to me. The same with the other selectors," he said on the Cricket Australia website.
"We know categorically there are going to be one or two guys brutally unlucky not to get selected because they're all going so well... the blokes in the squad at the moment will be praying it's not them."
Australia made it eight in a row with a 20-run win in the fifth and final one-dayer against Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday to sweep the series 5-0 after coming from behind to beat India 3-2 last month.
Their red-hot form has been built on the back of a rock-solid opening partnership between skipper Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja.
Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb and Glenn Maxwell have also been in fine touch with the bat, leaving difficult decisions as to where Warner and Smith will fit back in after serving their one-year bans for their part in a ball-tampering scandal.
- with AFP