“You never bring fast bowlers back, well, it’s hard to, and it’s the same with Matt. The only thing that played against him this game and not his ability, not his work ethic, he’s done all the things so well over the last six months. And everything he has done absolutely to the letter. Unfortunately, he got three injuries with his broken finger, his hamstring and then concussion, so he has batted in the middle in the last three months for probably an hour and it’s really hard to come into these conditions when you haven’t got match fitness.
“People could argue with that and that’s fine, but my view on the world is that there’s nothing like match practice and he just hadn’t had any. He’s a terrific young player, really good in the group. I admire the way he has gone about it, he had a smile on his face the whole time and there’s plenty of future for Matt Renshaw. Whether it comes in opening or batting No. 3 or … it could come anywhere. He’s a good player. I’ve always said if you open you can bat anywhere in the order. Time will tell.”
Another question for Australia after their Dubai exertions is how to handle the spearhead Mitchell Starc, who slogged through 42.2 overs in enervating heat and battled severe cramps at the end of day one. Alongside the absent Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, Starc is considered one of Australia’s most precious resources, and at very least his training will be kept to a minimum over the next four days ahead of the second Test, starting in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
“Starcy bowled a lot of overs first innings, we certainly understand that and it’s always the million-dollar question what do we do with the fast bowlers,” Langer said. “Because if we want to have our fast bowlers particularly in Australia or, going forward, to England next year, like the opening partnership, the top three is incredibly important to Australia being successful. We’ll manage it. It’s the start of the season and hopefully, we’ll manage them well throughout the summer.”
The physical and emotional toil had an enormous payoff for Australia in the shape of a draw from nowhere, and Langer balanced his concerns about the well-being of his players with unbridled enthusiasm about what had just taken place. “I said to Travis Head actually when he missed out on the T20 side. At the end of this second Test you’ll be coming and giving me a hug,” he said. “And Finchy said it to me today as well because Test cricket is so tiring.
“Physically and mentally it’s so draining. So we’re going to have to work softly to really recharge our batteries as much as we can over the next few days to start again in four days’ time. But that’s all part of the back-to-back Test matches, especially with our young guys. “I’ll tell you what I do know after today – anyone who tells me Test cricket is dead, they’re crazy. That is Test cricket, that’s awesome, isn’t it? That’s what we love. For cricket tragics, we love that. That’s awesome, down to the end, all nervous, I love that.”