Former Test opener and Western Australia coach Justin Langer believes the revolutionary drop-in wicket at Adelaide Oval needs work before it hosts the second Ashes Test in early December after serving up a record run feast in the Warriors’ Sheffield Shield stalemate with South Australia.
The pitch, rolled out at the historic ground in late September, coughed up well over 1000 runs and produced three centurions across the four-day encounter that culminated in a draw on Saturday.
The visitors finished on 3-202 with a 35-run lead in their second dig after the Redbacks were bowled out on Saturday morning for a whopping 601 – the highest total recorded by South Australia against WA in the Sheffield Shield.
“I know there was a directive at the start of the year to produce better batting friendly wickets (in Australia), but I think that probably went to the extreme,” Langer said.
“I’m certainly not blaming the curator because it’s a new wicket here at Adelaide Oval, but it was probably too flat for a really good game of Shield cricket.
“I’m sure they’ll use this game and the next one to get it right, or certainly a feel for it, for the Test match.”
Langer said the state of the track should take nothing away from the titanic efforts of forgotten man Marcus North, former Redbacks skipper Michael Klinger and axed Test batsman Phil Hughes, who all reached triple figures.
North belted 110 on Wednesday’s opening day to set up the Warriors’ first-innings total of 434 and was unlucky not to register another hundred on Saturday after finishing on 84 not out.
Klinger fired 125 in the hosts’ first innings, but it was Hughes who was the pick of the trio with a monstrous 204-run maiden double ton.
Hughes struck 26 boundaries and set his highest first-class score in a marathon knock that lasted 533 minutes.
“He was very fluid and he hardly played a shot in vain,” Langer said of Hughes’ 22nd first-class ton.
“His statistics are mind-blowing in terms of hundreds and that’s what you want from an Australian player.
“He will be knocking hard (for a Test recall) and his next opportunity will come. No doubt he’s one of the best six, seven or eight batsmen in Australia.”
Langer also praised Ashton Agar, whose meteoric rise in Australian cricket continued with a 93-run effort in the Warriors’ first innings.
“I haven’t seen natural talent like that since (former Australia wicketkeeper) Adam Gilchrist,” he said.
“Ashton’s got the potential to be an outstanding allrounder. You can’t teach what he does, he’s so fluid.”