Justin Langer was one of Australia’s greatest openers in Test cricket. He aggregated a total of 7696 runs in 105 Tests at an average of 45.27. His exploits included 23 hundreds. As he turns 50 today, we look back at three of his finest batting performances.
1. 250 vs England, The Ashes, MCG, 2002
Australia led the series 3-0. It was the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. The great Australian opening pair of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer gave their team a splendid start adding 195 for the opening wicket in just under 45 overs. Australia lost three quick wickets but Langer remained defiant at one end. He added 129 for the 4th wicket with Steve Waugh before putting together 151 for the 5th with Martin Love. Langer was finally dismissed for a colossal 250 off 407 deliveries after spending a little more than 9.5 hours in the middle. Australia declared at 551 for 6 in the first innings. They ultimately went on to register a five-wicket win on Day 5 of the Test.
2. 127 vs Pakistan, Second Test, Hobart, 1999
Pakistan fought back after being dismissed for 222 in the first innings only conceding a slender lead before bowling out the hosts Australia for 246. The batting fired in the second innings as the visitors notched up 392 setting Australia a challenging 369 for a win. Slater fell with the score at 39. Langer and Blewett resurrected the innings before two quick dismissals – Blewett and a first ball duck for Mark Waugh – meant that Australia were reduced to 81 for 3. Steve Waugh fought it out but Australia again lost two quick wickets in succession – Waugh exited for 28 and Ponting followed without troubling the scorers.
Gilchrist joined Langer. Little did they know that they would re-write history! The pair ensured that there was no more damage on the day and Australia ended Day 4 at 188 for 5 with Langer unbeaten on a resilient 52 and Gilchrist on 45.
Gilchrist went berserk on Day 5 and Langer kept one end secure against a bowling line-up of the calibre of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq! The pair put together a match-winning 238 run stand for the sixth-wicket. With 5 runs to get for a win, Langer was finally dismissed for a dogged and defiant 127 off 295 deliveries after spending 425 minutes at the crease. Australia went on to register a famous win by 4 wickets. It is Australia’s second-highest and overall the 8th highest successful chase in Test cricket history!
3. 127 vs West Indies, Fourth Test, St John’s, Antigua, 1999
Australia were trailing 1-2 in the four-match Test series. They had been hit by the Brian Lara hurricane! Australia had an 81-run first innings’ lead but lost Blewett early in the second innings. Langer came at number 3 and put together a fifty partnership with Slater. The left-hander again did what he did best – occupy one end and countered whatever was thrown at him by the likes of Ambrose, Walsh and Co. Langer stitched together a match-changing 147 run stand with Mark Waugh for the 3rd wicket and was finally dismissed with the team score at 265 scoring almost half the total runs. His innings of 127 helped Australia post 306 in the second innings which put the match beyond the West Indies. Australia won by 176 runs and levelled the series 2-2.