Ashes 2019: Langer backs 'world class' Warner to come good

By Sports Desk September 10, 2019

Justin Langer has no doubt David Warner will overcome the poor form that has dogged his batting during the Ashes. 

Warner has excelled in the field for Australia, but has failed to impress when at the crease, scoring just 79 runs from eight innings.

The tourists have nonetheless retained the urn, with Steve Smith having been pivotal in helping them secure a 2-1 series lead with one Test remaining. 

However, Langer has no concerns over whether Warner, who was impressive during Australia's Cricket World Cup campaign, can recapture the form which made him one of the most formidable openers in international cricket.

"He'll be fine," said Langer. "Steve Smith was throwing balls to him because [Smith's] usually hitting balls and he didn't want to hit any. 

"Davey hasn't had a great series, there's no secrets about that. But he's also a world class player. I've said throughout the whole series if Davey has one good innings it will help us win the Ashes. 

"He probably hasn't been through this lean run before, so it's going to be a good test of his character and we know what a great player he is. 

"He's had a huge World Cup, he had a huge IPL albeit with a white ball. He's a world class player, he's a match winner. He's been brilliant around the group since he's been back. 

"He's been great, he's been great for the crowds, he's been good amongst the group. He hasn't got the runs he wants at the moment, but I'm looking forward to seeing it when he does and there's no better place in the world to bat than The Oval [in the fifth Test], so I'm looking forward to seeing him go well this week."

Australia were able to celebrate at Old Trafford on Sunday, but Langer revealed focus swiftly switched to The Oval, with his side needing to avoid defeat to secure a first series triumph in England since 2001.

"Certainly that celebration was two out of 10 to some of the ones I've seen in Australian cricket before because we knew we had to play three days later," he said.

"The boys are up and about. There's certainly great energy in the group. I've said throughout this whole series there's been lots of laughter in the group, lots of great camaraderie. 

"So hopefully that continues and that certainly gets heightened when you have a successful game. There's a good feeling in the group, they know there's still unfinished business and we're looking forward to this last Test match."

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    Jordan Henderson demanded an apology from Krasimir Balakov after the Bulgaria head coach did not offer outright condemnation of the racist abuse directed towards England players during their 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win in Sofia.

    Play was stopped twice before half-time during a comfortable victory for Gareth Southgate's men on Monday, with an address over the Vasil Levski National Stadium urging an end to racist chanting before a number of Bulgaria fans were removed from the ground.

    England players informed the match officials of the discriminatory behaviour and an abandonment looked possible at one stage, although Harry Kane would ultimately round out an emphatic scoreline set in motion by Marcus Rashford's blistering opener and embellished by braces from Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley.

    Henderson exchanged words with Balakov during one of the breaks in play and was aghast when he heard the 53-year-old had stated after the game that the allegations of racism must be "proven", choosing instead to criticise the behaviour of England supporters and a pre-match focus upon a potential for racist incidents.

    "I had a few words with the manager. It wasn't acceptable – something needs to be done," the Liverpool captain told Sky Sports News.

    "He needs to apologise now, really, on behalf of the team and the fans. He knows what was going on. He was asking me what the problem was.

    "When I told him he knew what was going on, it was baffling how he didn't, really. Hopefully he looks back and apologises because anyone watching that game would be disgusted really."

    England discussed whether they should resume the match at half-time and Henderson, angered by what had transpired, took pride in their unanimous response in the face of adversity.

    "I felt angry," he said. "They're my team-mates, my friends who I've known for a long time and I share a dressing room with.

    "It was shocking to see. I was so angry at one point but the game goes on, you've got to switch the focus to the football.

    "At half-time we spoke about it, we wanted to carry on. If one person said they didn't want to go out then we wouldn't have done and that would have been it.

    "But everybody's message was we wanted to make them suffer and not make them win. I felt we did that brilliantly."

  • Kick It Out demands UEFA 'show leadership' after England players receive racial abuse in Bulgaria Kick It Out demands UEFA 'show leadership' after England players receive racial abuse in Bulgaria

    Anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out has slammed UEFA for its handling of England's Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria, and its previous punishments for racial abuse.

    England's 6-0 win on Monday was halted twice in the first half, with the match seemingly set to be abandoned amid chants from sections of Bulgaria's support at Vasil Levski National Stadium, which was partially shut due to previous incidents of racist abuse from some home supporters.

    Gareth Southgate's England elected to come back out for the second half, with a group of Bulgaria fans ejected from the ground during the second stoppage.

    During the first stoppage, a message was read out over the public address system – following UEFA's three-step protocol for tackling incidents of abuse at games.

    However, Kick It Out has questioned why the protocol was not followed afterwards, while criticising UEFA's attempts at tackling racism.

    "We are sickened by the disgusting racist abuse directed at England men's team tonight by Bulgaria supporters – including TV footage which appeared to show Nazi salutes and monkey noises," Kick It Out stated.

    "We applaud Gareth Southgate, his staff and players for the actions taken in reporting the abhorrent abuse, and offer our full support to the entire squad, their families and anyone affected by those appalling scenes.

    "We are encouraged that the protocol was initially enforced by the match officials, but UEFA must explain why players weren't sent to the dressing room during Step Two, as is clearly stated in the rules.

    "TV footage also clearly shows that racist abuse continued in the second half, so it is unacceptable that Step Three was not enforced. This match should have been abandoned by the officials.

    "It's now time for UEFA to step up and show some leadership. For far too long, they have consistently failed to take effective action.

    "The fact Bulgaria are already hosting this game with a partial stadium closure for racist abuse shows that UEFA's sanctions are not fit for purpose.

    "There can be no more pitiful fines or short stadium bans. If UEFA care at all about tackling discrimination – and if the Equal Game campaign means anything – then points deductions and tournament expulsion must follow."

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