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   Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 08:47 GMT
Justin Langer on the Ashes
Australian opener Justin Langer answers your e-mails
As one half of the formidable opening partnership with Matthew Hayden, Langer is key to Australia's performance.

The former Middlesex man was drafted in as an opener in the final Test of the last Ashes series, made a century and has subsequently made the spot his own.

After an impressive start to the series Langer joined us to answer your e-mails:

Tritha Martyn, Netherlands

Hi Justin,

Can you give us a little peek into the dressing room please? What were the feelings in the Aussie team when the captain informed you that he had lost the toss but was asked to bat first?

Justin Langer: We were happy either way. Whether we batted or bowled first we were very well prepared and ready for the contest. I can't remember the team being so pumped up for a Test match. The feeling was awesome before, during and after the game.

Angor, Bangladesh

How much do you enjoy your role as an opener?

Opening the batting is great as I know exactly when I am needed to bat. I particularly enjoy opening the batting with Matty Hayden as he is one of my best friends.

Graeme Brown, UK

Do you have any set pattern before you go out to bat to keep your mind focused? As being a fellow left-handed opening bat I would find any tips most helpful.

The most important thing is going into an innings feeling like you have done everything possible in your preparation. If you feel fully prepared you can simply go out to bat and watch the ball as closely as possible.

Stick to one or two cues to help simplify the batting process. For me these cues are built into my routine which is the same for every single ball. In my case this means relaxing my body, getting my head position right in my stance and then watching the ball like a hawk.

If you get nervous before an innings, try breathing through your nose and concentrating on these small things that are so important.

Alan Bragg, Australia

How does the organiser of the team instill motivation and a ruthless winning mindset while keeping the teams' feet on the ground and not becoming negative?

Basically preparing the team well physically and mentally is the key to consistent successes and peak performance. Without doing a sell job on you I have just written a book called The Power of Passion which shares many of the secrets of the Australian cricket team and the strategies for consistent success.

Alan, Scotland

What is the Australian view on the English preparation for the Ashes?

To be honest we were more concerned with our own preparation than that of the Englishmen. This is usually our way of doing things as we have no control of what the opposition is doing so we focus on the job we have to do rather than concern ourselves with the opposition.

Greg, England

Of the other Test playing nations where would you rank England in terms of ability today?

It is hard to say. South Africa were supposedly the second best team in the world before last summer and we were able to beat them 5-1. I guess time will tell how this series finishes up and we will have a better understanding of where we think England are at then.

Hefin Jones, Wales

What do you think of the injury sustained by Simon Jones and how do you think this will affect England's weakened bowling attack?

Simon's injury was horrific and very sad for him. No-one likes to see such a good young talent and likeable young man struck down like that. He will be missed by England.

Simon Porch, UK

You have a great team at the moment but with many key players in their 30s, how are you going to maintain your current success when these players do retire?

Hopefully the strong domestic competition here in Australia will ensure that the young players coming through will be mentally tough and ready to step into the shoes of those great retiring players. The issue is certainly being addressed and monitored all of the time.

Chaim Greenberg, UK

I am a Middlesex fan I really enjoyed your batting when you were here. Is there any chance of you returning to Middlesex at any stage?

I loved playing for Middlesex and have many fond memories of the club. I would always like to return to Middlesex but will have to wait and see whether they ever need another batsman as one of their pros in the future. You should ask the club the same question.

Richard Graham, UK

Do the Aussie side have a lot to do with the English team off the field?

Not really. We all get along very well but in this day and age there is less time for socializing. We will no doubt get together at the end of the series. My gut feeling is that this series will be played in very good spirits.

Pranav Patel, India

How do you feel about your inability to beat India? Do they represent the biggest challenge at present?

Admittedly we lost the series in India last time in one of the greatest Test series of all time but in Australia we won the series three-nil. India are always tough in their home conditions. We are looking forward to our next series in India.

Chris Martin, Australia

After your impressive performance are you feeling confident of earning a recall to the one-day side?

I would like to be in the one-day side and feel I could do a good job for Australia. The thing is that Adam Gilchrist opens the batting in the one-day team. This automatically takes out one specialist batting position.

There are many good players in Australia so competition is at fever pitch but this can only be good for Australian cricket.

Satinder Singh, England

Do you consider the Ashes to be more important than the World Cup?

Yes right now, because the Ashes is our present challenge. The World Cup will be huge but is still six months away. When it comes around it will be the most important thing then.

Paul Robin, England

Which Australian opening batsman was given a policewoman strippergram in a London pub? By the way, you look in good touch; I suspect you'll get a big one in the second Test. Love to Sue and the kids.

G'day Pauly - and yes who was the idiot who scared the life out of an Australian opening batsman way back then. Send my love to all at the OMs.

All the news ahead of the 2002/03 Ashes tour

Tour in review

Test series

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