What seemed improbable beyond belief took place when Australia managed to secure a draw with Pakistan in the Test in the United Arab Emirates.
They now move on to a series decider in Abu Dhabi with concern that top pace-man Mitchell Starc might be overdue for a spell.
Starc had a tough go in Dubai, where a flat pitch and hot conditions limited him to 1 – 90 in the first innings and a brief, six overs appearance in the second innings.
Welcome to the top post in Australian cricket, Justin Langer.
Langer has been around for a bit now, so the welcome is overdue and objectively, Langer has done a credible job at what has to be one of the toughest jobs in all of sports, given the hand he was dealt.
Australia need Starc, but not if his effectiveness is in question.
Starc was unable to get any swing on the ball, nothing compared to that of Pakistan’s pacer Mohammad Abbas, who took seven wickets over the course of the match.
Starc will train, along with Peter Siddle, but back-ups Michael Neser and Brendan Doggett will be readies to step in if Starc has to sit.
Langer also has the awareness that fuel needs to be preserved and added to Starc’s tank in order to have him at peak proficiency for three T20s with Pakistan later this month and for the home Test with India after that.
“It’s a good question. It’s always managing those quicks,” Coach Justin Langer said. “We’ll manage it. It’s the start of the season and hopefully we’ll manage them well throughout the summer and this tour so far.”
It was a stunning reversal that found Australia able to fight back on the final day against Pakistan in Dubai and it would seem that the outcome might make only Starc a potential non-selection for the Abu Dhabi Test.