The Ashes: Australia coach Justin Langer tight-tipped over Old Trafford selection

Justin Langer
Justin Langer

Australia coach Justin Langer was keeping his cards close to his chest with regards to team selection for the fourth Ashes Test against England.

Langer's men head into this week's Old Trafford showdown locked at 1-1 in the five-match series following an astonishing England win at Headingley last time out.

The tourists seem certain to make at least one change to their XI with star batsman Steve Smith available again, but the likes of pacemen Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle will also hope to be involved.

Langer was giving few clues away as to Australia's likely selection at Monday's press conference but suggested the only thing left for them to resolve was who would get the final bowling spot.

He said: "The players don't know (the team) yet. We're going to tell them before dinner tonight and then it will probably be public after that.

"(We're) very clear on the 12, not so sure on the 11. Sorry I can't give you more but it's probably better to tell the players before we tell you."

He added: "The 12th man will be one of the bowlers. (We're) very clear what the batting is."

The return of Smith in Manchester, barring any unforeseen circumstances, appears certain after he was forced to miss out at Leeds due to concussion.

The former Australia captain has scored a combined total of 378 runs in three innings in the series so far, at a remarkable average of 126.

Smith was back on the field in last week's tour match against Derbyshire, scoring 23 in his only visit to the crease, and Langer hopes he can now pick up where he left off in the Test series.

Langer added: "I've just thrown to him for about half an hour and he's moving really well, so we're all hopeful that he gets back into the zone, or hits the ball in the middle of the bat.

"He's shown that throughout the summer. He's been batting well, so let's hope he can continue that. It's important for our team and it's just nice knowing that he's back in the team."

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