Langer called out for playing ‘favourites’
Justin Langer's dual role as coach and selector has been cast into question by Aussie test great Geoff Lawson following the coach's bold Boxing Day Test selection hints.
Lawson has hit out at Langer for playing favourites with veteran quick Peter Siddle after the former test opener suggested the Victorian seamer was the "obvious one" to be brought into the squad for the Second Test against New Zealand at the MCG.
Siddle's re-call would see him join Michael Neser and James Pattinson in a three-way fight to replace Josh Hazlewood after the star quick broke down with a hamstring injury in Perth.
Hazlewood strained his left hamstring after bowling only six balls at Perth Stadium, and coach Justin Langer has already ruled him out of the next game at least.
Now Lawson has exposed a glaring shortcoming of the Aussie test selection process which this summer has rested on Langer's and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns' shoulders.
It remains unclear when new selector George Bailey will begin his new role, but his final ever Big Bash campaign is expected to keep him compromised from selection duties until the end of the Twenty20 competition.
Lawson told Sky Sports Radio on Monday the current weakness in the selection panel has opened up the door for Langer to play "favourites".
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"He's certainly a Siddle fan, isn't he," Lawson told Sky Sports Radio.
"They've had Pattinson there and Neser there with the group. I'm not sure why you'd be looking outside those two guys. You put them in the 14 for a start. I'm not sure why you'd be looking outside that, especially at someone who hasn't taken that many wickets for Victoria in their last few Shield games.
"But Justin has his favourites and unfortunately, sometimes he plays them as well. That's one of the problems with having the coach as a selector."
He said the selection panel's greatest issue right now is that only Hohns is in a position to closely monitor the Sheffield Shield for any potential test call-ups.
"I have to admit I always have a giggle when I keep reading the selection panel has picked, when it's just two people," Lawson said.
"There's the coach, who obviously doesn't watch state cricket, and Trevor Hohns. It's not a selection panel at all. It's two people and one of them's not watching any state cricket, so it's quite a limited view of the game.
"The (state) coaches are the guys who get spoken to and they've probably got their own agendas as well. They're either trying to get their players into the Australian team or trying to keep them out so that their state team performs better."
Despite having Pattinson and Neser, Australia may still want extra cover in their squad for their quicks in Melbourne, with Langer admitting he could even consider playing four quicks and one spinner.
If Australia do opt for four pacemen, either Travis Head or Matthew Wade would have to make way.
And if that is the case, Siddle appears in the box seat to be brought into the squad after his Test career looked likely to be over after the Ashes. "We've started to think about (a squad replacement), the obvious one would be Peter Siddle actually," Langer said.
"He did a really good job in the Ashes, he's bowling very well for Victoria and it's at the MCG where he's played a lot of cricket.
"We'll see what happens the rest of this game and then make a decision." Siddle has taken 12 wickets at 15.16 in three Shield matches at the MCG this summer.
Siddle said on Monday he was hoping to get a phone call from Hohns or Langer in the next few days.
"If that gets me selected then I'm happy and if it doesn't then as long as I'm playing good cricket then I'll be happy also," Siddle told RSN Breakfast.
"We'll see what happens. If I get a phone call over the next couple days that'd be good, that'd be great obviously."
Meanwhile, Aussie legend Shane Warne has called on Australia to look to the future and leave Siddle out of the squad for Boxing Day.
"Some chat around who should replace Hazlewood. Why you would even consider another bowler - other than Pattinson is beyond me," Warne wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
"I think he's a gun. Very odd that Siddle has been added to the squad, a good bowler but had his time. Neser is a good first-class cricketer.
"I also think the Australian selectors missed a trick by not adding Riley Meredith to the squad for the Boxing Day year instead of Siddle. He's a great young player and the experience around the test team would inspire him. Time to look forward not back."
Ps I also think the Australian selectors missed a trick by not adding Riley Meredith to the squad for the Boxing Day year instead of Siddle. He’s a great young player and the experience around the test team would inspire him. Time to look forward not back @FoxCricket— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) December 15, 2019
- with AAP