Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  

Langer hanging up boots?

Speculation is mounting that Justin Langer will join Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in making the final Ashes Test at Sydney his last for Australia.

If Langer does bring the curtain down on his playing days it will end Australia's most prolific opening partnership in Test history with Matthew Hayden.

Langer, himself, has stayed away from the limelight since the Boxing Day Test finished in three days but his father, Colin, told The Sunday Age his son wasn't going to outstay his welcome.

"He's been privileged to play for his country for 104 Test matches," he said.

"The way he's gone about his career has been a thrill for his family. When he and Adam Gilchrist won that Test against Pakistan in Hobart [in 1999], that gave me a thrill. But the biggest highlight for me has been the way he's gone about his business as a cricketer.

"To see the effort that's had to be put in, the effort no one really sees. To see what he's done to try to get fit for this series, it's just been unbelievable, the physical effort, the time he spends with his batting coach. People don't see all that, but we do."

John Buchanan would not be drawn on Langer's future following the Melbourne Test, just adding how much he is valued by the team.

"He's a tremendous character to have within the team with a set of values which he's admired for. He believes in all the traditions of the game and, really, in many ways, he's the epitome of the baggy green cap."

Following an impressive start to the Ashes series, with 82 and an unbeaten 100 at the Gabba, Langer's form has tailed off and he hasn't registered another half-century. However, he and Hayden have amassed 5575 runs at an average of 51.15 as an opening partnership since first joining forces against England, at The Oval, in 2001.