During the early 2000s when the Australian juggernaut was rolling and decimating everything in its wake, Justin Langer occupied a critical spot in the line-up as the opener. Paired, for most of the tests, with the massive Matthew Hayden, Langer set about giving the team dream starts from where they could press on for victory. He was primarily a test player for Australia and that is where he showed his true mettle with a tally of 7696 runs at 45.27 in 105 tests. He also scored 23 centuries. However, his real value did not lie in the statistics – it was his method that should be commended the most.
Langer was not a dashing strokeplayer like most of his compatriots but was more in the mould of Steven Waugh. He was also referred to as Mini Tugga, which is the nickname of Waugh for his cussedness in taking repeated blows to his body. He was someone who prepared for each match with 100 runs at full pelt in the nets – this showed in his strike rate as well. He strike rate in runs stood at 54.22 in tests and at 88.88 in one dayers. He was an exceptional player of three strokes – the cut, the pull and the drive – and worked his game effectively around these three. In many ways, he can be called a true percentage player who made the most of his abilities by staying within them.
Langer played his first test against the West Indians at Adelaide in 1993. One of the most memorable moments in his cricketing career came in the 1999-2000 season against Pakistan when together with Adam Gilchrist, he ensured the team’s win from an almost impossible position. The measure of his batsmanship can be gauged from the fact that he has scored more centuries than Doug Walters, Mark Waugh, Ian Chappell and Bill Lawry. 2004 was a memorable year for him with an eye catching 1481 runs.
Later on in his career, he suffered from hamstring and rib injuries, much of which can be attributed to his willingness to wear blows on his body and yet not give his wicket away. He bowed out as the member of the 2007 Aussie team that regained the Ashes after the 2005 humiliation in England where too he was the top scorer for the team. After retirement, he had served as the national batting coach replacing Stuart Law but has now taken up the position of head coach at Western Australia, his home state who are banking on him to turn the team into champions.