Gritty India series performance convinces Langer of Katich's credentials

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Sydney, Nov 18 : Former Aussie opener Justin Langer has said that after the just concluded India series he has changed his mind about Australia's Test batting opening partnership, once again favouring his former opening mate Simon Katich instead of the newcomer Phil Jaques, who averages 47.47.

One century and three 50s by Katich, besides his tenacity and aggression, have convinced Langer about his utility for the Oz team.

"Katich to me is the sort of guy you have to have in the Australian cricket team at the moment. Not only for his cricketing ability and his runs but for his steely character and leadership," he said and added: "I thought Phil Jaques was a little bit stiff to miss out initially but whether Simon is batting at No.1 or in the top six I think he has to be in side at the moment due to this transitional period."

Langer and Hayden forged their lofty reputations together, starting with a century stand in the final Test of the 2001 Ashes through to 2006-07, scoring the most runs of any Australian opening pair in the history.

Initially, Langer had not agreed with the selectors' decision to replace his successor Phil Jaques, averaging 47.47, with Katich as Matthew Hayden's top-order partner at the start of last month's series in India. But, the retired opener has now given his whole-hearted blessing and predicted a fruitful union, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Jaques was always seen as Langer's long-term replacement, but Katich crow-barred his way past by making the most of his unexpected chance when Hayden missed the three-Test series in the Caribbean in April-May. "Although he's not the technically-correct and compact batsman normally suited to opening, Katich traditionally a middle-order player, will continue to blossom in the role," added Langer.

ANI

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