Langer stands by Waugh - again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Langer stands by Waugh - again

By Will Swanton 08/12/2002 06:08:17 AM Comments (0)

Justin Langer is Steve Waugh's biggest fan.

He would be a rich man given a dollar for every time he has offered to run through a brick wall for his Test captain.

And so it was again.

Langer rated Waugh the greatest Test and one-day batsman of his generation and struggled to comprehend how Australian selectors could leave him out of the World Cup.

But instead of talking about Waugh in past tense, Langer was referring to the present, when even the 37-year-old's most ardent admirers admit he may not be the irrepressible force he once was.

Langer leads Australia A against England in a day-night match at the SCG on Sunday as debate continues about whether Waugh deserves a place in Australia's 15-man touring party for the World Cup in South Africa next year.

"He's probably in the best five players to have played one-day cricket for Australia," Langer said of Waugh, who has played 325 international one-dayers for 7,569 runs, but who missed out on Australia's provisional 30-man squad.

"If anyone's going to pull something out of the bag, he can do it. Mentally he's the toughest player I've ever played with.

"I think he's the best player I've ever played with, full stop, so you can take from that what you like. He's the best batsman I've ever played with, toughest competitor, best captain ... you guys are sick of me saying all that about Steve Waugh but he is.

"If anyone is going to bat for your life, you want Steve Waugh."

Asked if that remained the case, Langer replied: "Yep. A very simple example was the last Ashes Test match when he spent the night vomiting and he had diarrhoea and he turned up to the ground looking the colour of a white shirt.

"He hadn't had any sleep and he was crook all night. He got off the physio bench and went out and scored 50 very good runs for Australia on a pretty hard bouncy wicket when England were throwing everything at him.

"I know how passionate he is about playing in the one-day side and I hope for his sake he gets back in.

"The thing that's going to be difficult for him is getting the opportunity to play one-day cricket between now and the World Cup. That's a tough situation for him."

Waugh's only one-day game before the World Cup squad is announced on December 31 is for NSW against a full-strength Australia at North Sydney Oval on Tuesday.

After that he will return to Test mode for the Boxing Day and Sydney Tests against England so in terms of a one-day recall, his time is almost up.

Langer, who earned a place among the top 30, said the rest of the Australian players - and many more worldwide - held Waugh in the same high regard as him.

"No doubt - he's respected and revered in the team and outside the team," said Langer.

"He's held in incredible esteem by every cricketer I know outside Australian cricket and inside Australian cricket."

Asked about the growing push in Sydney for Waugh to gain limited overs selection, Langer said: "It's probably some of the same media people who were calling for his head 12 months ago. That's a bit of an irony, isn't it?"

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