Langer spent four years here before retiring in 2009, and during that period got etched into the celebrated history of the Taunton County Ground
As you drive into the county of Somerset and are about to approach Taunton, it can feel like you're doing so in a time machine. The houses, all built in stone, have been around forever, and every pub you enter reveals to have been around since the 12th century, with little or no change to the interiors. No wonder then that Justin Langer is believed to have said, "It was like living in the olden days," about his time spent here as an overseas player a decade ago.
Langer spent four years here before retiring in 2009, and during that period got etched into the celebrated history of Somerset and at the Taunton County Ground. He might not have been as destructive as some of his predecessors - like Viv Richards or Joel Garner - who left their mark here in the West Country, but it was under his reign here that Somerset regained their lost stature in county cricket. And you could make out the reverence for Langer even now, on Tuesday (June 11), as he walked around the Taunton County Ground on a wet and gloomy day as the coach of the Australian team. There were even some who left "please ask JL to call me" messages for him at the gate with their respective phone numbers.
Like their opponents on Wednesday (June 12), Australia have played an ODI here before, and will be keen on making their coach's English homecoming sweeter with an important win.
It's a tournament where a fancied side can afford to lose a game against another fancied side, like Australia did at The Oval to India, but provided they are confident of accumulating all available points against the lower-ranked teams. You don't need to win all nine matches after all to go through to the semifinal. And it was evident during their run-chase that the Aussies weren't averse to focusing on the bigger picture and getting their middle-order, Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell in particular, in a good frame of mind rather than trying to gun down the massive total in gung-ho fashion.
Despite their big win over England, Pakistan still go into the contest as underdogs, and an opposition that the defending champions will have to see off if they want their World Cup campaign to stay on track. What Pakistan cannot afford though is another washout like the one they suffered in Bristol against Sri Lanka, and weather relenting they will be keen on getting on the field and getting their own campaign on track after a shocking start against the West Indies.
When: Australia vs Pakistan, CWC19, June 12, 10:30 Local, 15:00 IST
Where: Taunton County Ground, Taunton
What to expect: Langer was found strolling around his former home-ground even hours after the team had left, and was even overheard telling a ground-staff member that he was itching to pad up and get a hit in the middle, even if the ground remained draped under the covers. It's at this ground that Langer reinvented himself as a batsman after having hung up his boots in international cricket, and it's a ground that has historically done so for many a batsman from here and beyond. Cricket fans in India will of course remember Taunton fondly for the Sourav Ganguly blitz against Sri Lanka in the 1999 World Cup, not to forget the tiny boundaries that he kept clearing and nearly depositing balls into River Tone. But the pitch here has undergone an overhaul in recent years and the bowlers - locally led by the Overton twins - have begun to have a say.
The prevailing overcast conditions will only accentuate the potential impact of the fast bowlers from both sides - and there is immense talent in that department across both setups - and it wasn't surprising to hear Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed insist that his team will bowl first if they win the toss with a beaming smile.
Despite the inclement weather over the last two days around England, which has resulted in two consecutive no-shows for cricket, the flood alert around the country hasn't been extended to Taunton even if there has been a "yellow weather" warning around Somerset which predicts heavy and persistent rain. For now though, there are more fears of the world-famous Glastonbury Music Festival ending up as a washout at the end of the month rather than the rain having a significant effect on the Australia v Pakistan World Cup encounter. But the locals here don't take too kindly to any banter regarding their chilly summer days with temperatures on Tuesday ranging from 7 to 8 degrees. "I wish you came during our winter then. You know it snows a lot around here," you're told rather bluntly.
The injury to Marcus Stoinis leaves Australia with a big selection call and exposes the fact that they landed here without a potential replacement for their Nos 5 and 6. The only reserve batsman in the squad, Shaun Marsh, doesn't bowl and is there to come in place of any of the top 4 batsmen. And the only option the Aussies have is to bring in one of their two fast bowlers, Jason Behrendorff or Kane Richardson and have Alex Carey batting at No.6. Even if conditions might support Behrendorff's inclusion, the threat of an ominously long tail could well give Richardson the nod.
Probable XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa
Mushtaq Ahmed might be the best-known Pakistani to have played for Somerset in the past, but while Azhar Ali recently played a huge role in the county's first taste of silverware - the Royal London Cup - in a while, ace batsman Babar Azam is expected to show up later in the summer for the T20 tournament. And this will be a great chance for him to give his soon-to-be homeground fans a taste of what he has to offer, while the rest of the team selects itself and if anything, Pakistan look the more settled team.
Probable XI: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk/c), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Hassan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir