No let-up as Langer cracks whip
AUSTRALIA cricket coach Justin Langer has used a nine-day break between games to put his troops through some rigorous fitness testing to see who has the "resilience" for a lengthy winter campaign in England.
After a history-making one-day series win in India last week the players flew to Dubai to prepare for the next five-game series against Pakistan which begins on Friday.
Two days were spent welcoming banned batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner back in to the fold, albeit briefly, before Langer put his players back to work.
Australia has a massive few months coming up with the World Cup followed by the Ashes, having already completed a huge home summer.
Langer has only been in charge for 10 months but Australia has already played 41 matches during that time.
Some players, including Australian one-day player of the year Marcus Stoinis, will head to the Indian Premier League after the Pakistan series, before World Cup warm-up games in Brisbane in May. The tournament begins on June 1.
Langer has made fitness a priority from the moment he took over as coach last year and the players regularly endure four-hour training sessions.
With a small window between games the coach said it was important to find out what level most of his players were at with another three months of constant cricket on the calendar.
The final Ashes Test at the Oval begins on September 12.
"We need really strong, resilient players to get through a World Cup and the Ashes," Langer said.
"It will be interesting to see where they are at with that, what they need to work on to be those elite fit athletes we are going to need to win those two tournaments."
Langer said the small break in play had also allowed for some reflection after a full-on 12 months post the ball-tampering scandal.
His team has won 15 matches and lost 24 across all formats in that time, but Langer was keen to judge his men on the off-field work that had been done to rebuild the team, and it's image.
"We set some values with the team nine or 10 months ago, and we just had a look at how we are going with those, and a look at how we can use our values and behaviours to keep moving the team forward on and off the field," he said.
'It's a really good opportunity between the Indian series and the Pakistan series to re-set where we are at reassess where we are at, and I think it's been a really worthwhile exercise."
IT'S ONLY THE BEGINNING
10 months of results under Justin Langer
10 - 3-2-5
16 - 5-11
15 - 7-8