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Steve Smith

'It was like watching Tendulkar bat' – Langer chuffed about Steve Smith's CWC19 preparations

Australia head coach Justin Langer was delighted with Steve Smith's progress ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 and called him the key to their success at the tournament.

Smith scored 89* and 91* in the warm-up games in Brisbane against a New Zealand XI, and Langer said that it was good to have him back.

"[I] watched Steve Smith batting against New Zealand in those three practice games, he's literally a master of the game, so it's nice to have him back," Langer told reporters in London. "He loves batting – he's shadow batting on the sand, he's shadow batting in the shower – I’m not joking."

Langer was so impressed with one of the shots that Smith played that he likened him to Sachin Tendulkar. "Last week in Brisbane, [Smith] batted beautifully, he played an unbelievable shot off Nathan Coulter-Nile there - it was like watching Sachin bat. He's in pretty good shape I think," he said.

Although the 2019 World Cup is expected to be high-scoring, Langer felt that Australia’s bowlers would be critical to the team’s success. The ongoing one-day series between England and Pakistan has given a preview of things to come at the World Cup, with even scores in excess of 350 not proving to be safe. 

"There's a lot of talk about batting now in white-ball cricket, but our bowling is absolutely critical," Langer said. "In T20, it's absolutely critical and the same in ODI cricket. You're going to have a pretty thick skin to do well in international cricket, particularly on the flatter wickets and the fast outfields and the big squares we play on in England.

[I] watched Steve Smith batting against New Zealand in those three practice games, he's literally a master of the game, so it's nice to have him back.

Justin Langer

"They're going to have to have thick skin, but they're physically and mentally tough, and they'll be ready for it."

Langer also said that Australia are aware of what has given them success in the past and will continue to do the same. Australia are the defending champions and have won the World Cup four times in the last five editions, beginning in 1999.

"When everyone says we've got to start playing like England or start playing like New Zealand or start playing like India, no - we'll keep playing like Australia because we've won four of the past five World Cups and that's something to be proud of. The boys are aware of it and we know if we stick to the Australian way of playing great cricket... history has shown we'll be pretty good."

Australia will play two warm-up games, against England on 25 May and against Sri Lanka on 27 May, before their opening World Cup game, against Afghanistan on 1 June in Bristol.

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Afghanistan fans celebrate a boundary during the 2019 Cricket World Cup warm up match between England and Afghanistan at The Oval in London on May 27, 2019.

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