Why Langer parked Starc for Lord’s Test
THE Ashes future for Mitchell Starc remains unclear after coach Justin Langer said James Pattinson would almost certainly play in the third Test at Leeds next week.
Rain washed out day one of the second Test at Lord's, without even the toss being done, but Langer confirmed Josh Hazlewood, not Starc, would replace Pattinson for the match.
It was the first day without play in an Ashes Test since day three at Edgbaston in 2009. It was the first opening day of an Ashes Test in England without play since the Lord's match in 1997, which England won.
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Play will be extended by as much as half an hour for each of the next four days to make up lost time. There is no rain forecast for Thursday.
Despite no toss, and no official teams, England confirmed Jofra Archer would make his debut after he was presented his Test cap.
Australia rested Pattinson under a deal he struck with the coach to play just one of the back-to-back Tests - the next starts in Leeds next Thursday - and also after the Victorian pulled up a little sore after training on Monday.
"It was really good collaboration between the two of us, that was out deal in Hampshire earlier in the summer when we talked about what his progress would look like," Langer said.
"We knew he would only bowl one of the two back-to-back games, and whilst he's had eight or nine days (rest), we knew he couldn't play back-to-back Test matches.
"We just felt that having pulled up a little stiff after bowling and we thought it would be common sense to keep getting himself hungry and prepared for the third Test."
There is only a three-day gap between the second and third Tests, and only three days between the fourth and fifth matches too.
The Australian camp has maintained there is a "squad mentality" among the bowler who will be used when conditions suit.
But Tests four and five seem the likely hope for Starc to play after Langer confirmed Hazlewood was chosen for Lord's because of his ability to control the run rate, a key plank of Australia's Ashes game plan.
Starc conceded more than four runs an over in the intra-squad clash in Southampton, then went for 27 runs off his first four overs in the tour game against Worcester, which also included a wicket-maiden to start.
Langer said Hazlewood was bowling more to the game-plan Australia has to win the Ashes, which is limiting boundary balls, and maintaining permanent pressure.
"Just the style of play we want to play here against England, (Hazlewood) hits a great length, he's usually pretty miserly with his economy rate, that's what gave him the edge in this game," Langer said.
"Don't get me wrong, it was a hard decision. If it comes off we know what we are doing, if it doesn't we don't, that's just the business we are in. It was a tough call."
The Lord's pitch was underneath the covers for most of Wednesday, but visible enough for Langer to decide a decision to bat or bowl at the toss, which will happen on Thursday morning, weather permitting, would be a tough one.
"We had a joke there for a moment, if the captain tosses the coin and he wins the toss can he ask the opposition to make the choice. I think we decided you can't do that," he said,
"Lucky Tim (Paine) didn't have to make the decision. We'll see how it pulls up but it looks like a pretty good cricket wicket."