Not a complete disaster, says Australia coach, feels return of the regulars will put the team in a good position in time for the World Cup.
The one-off Twenty20 International went pretty much the way the five-match one-day international series did, an all-star England batting line-up scoring 221/5 and Australia finishing on 193 with Aaron Finch scoring a 41-ball 84.
Almost everything that could go wrong went wrong for Australia. Without Steve Smith and David Warner to helm the batting and the top three pacemen in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins to do the job with the ball, Australia came a cropper, giving Justin Langer a poor start to his stint as full-time Australia head coach.
“I knew it was going to be a big job, knowing where we came from in South Africa,” said Langer after the tour-ending 28-run defeat at Edgbaston.
But Langer held out hope. “There's been some great learning and some really positive stuff that has come from this trip,” he said. “On the surface, it looks like a complete disaster but we have talked about building a team that's going to be ready for the World Cup and the Ashes and I think we have unlocked a few answers.
“But it hurts when you get beaten, particularly in England.”
Langer revisited his Test debut in Adelaide against the Windies in 1993, an incredible match that the visiting side won by 1 run, to draw parallels with the present situation.
“My first Test match was against the West Indies and it was pretty scary. You faced four fast West Indians and you are a skinny kid. I remember David Boon saying, ‘Test cricket will never get tougher than this’. I thought he was just being nice to me but it was so true,” said Langer.
“I learned something from it and I was tougher from it. When you look at Trent Bridge [third ODI, when England scored a world-record 481/6], for our young blokes to get hit for 480-something, it doesn't get tougher. Hopefully it will add some layers to their character and not scars.
“The facts and the reality are that they are very inexperienced. In a perfect world, you bring a couple of your best young players into an experienced team, we just haven’t got the luxury of doing that at the moment. A few of the boys have walked into the jungle and we'll see how they go, not only over the next six months, but over the next two or three or 10 years.”
Australia had been singed by the ball-tampering incident in South Africa, and knew they were going to be without Smith and Warner. But to lose their best pacers, as well as Mitchell Marsh, to injuries was a knockout blow.
“If Steve Smith and David Warner and Mitch Marsh, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc come back in, all of a sudden, you've got 800 games of experience again and we've got a lot more experienced team,” pointed out Langer.
“And if some of these young guys who are gaining some experience here, or the guys who have taken it up – Shaun Marsh in the one-day series, he scored two hundreds, Ashton Agar has been really good with the ball and shown a lot with the bat, Billy Stanlake has had some good games.
“If we can get some of those guys learning and growing and if some of the other guys are available, who knows what could happen in 12 months' time? It's a fact of life. We don't know what's going to happen in 12 months. That will just be natural if some of those more senior players come back in the team, that's just reality.”
Next up for Langer, and Australia, is a triangular T20I series in Zimbabwe, with Pakistan as the third team – Australia’s first game is on 2 July against Pakistan, the No.1 T20I team in the world.