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Whiteman can replace Haddin: Langer

By Chris Pike
17 February 2014 04:05PM EST

WESTERN Australia is still a chance to claim the Sheffield Shield this season after beating Tasmania with coach Justin Langer believing Sam Whiteman could be next in line to replace Brad Haddin.

Silverware hadn’t been seen at the WACA Ground for some time up until earlier this month when the Perth Scorchers won the Big Bash League title, and now the Warriors are just four points off the top-two Shield teams New South Wales and South Australia with three matches of the season to go.

Shield action returned after the BBL layoff last week and WA wrapped up a tight victory at the WACA against Tasmania by four wickets late on day four on Saturday to now remain hot on the tails of the Blues and Redbacks, with two of their three games remaining against NSW.

While veteran batsmen Marcus North and Adam Voges again played a big role in WA's win, wicket-keeper batsman Whiteman once again delivered both with the bat and gloves.

The 21-year-old made a crucial 55 in the first innings to help WA secure first innings points and then was 29 not out in the second dig as the Warriors chased down the 256 for victory.

He also claimed seven catches in the match and pulled off a stumping and with Haddin entrenched in the Australian set up at least at Test level until he decides to retire, there's no reason Whiteman couldn’t be the man in line to replace him.

Tasmanian Tim Paine's glove work is outstanding but he isn’t making enough runs, Victorian Matthew Wade's keeping has always been suspect and he isn’t making big runs while Whiteman likely is seen as ahead of Queensland's Chris Hartley and South Australia's Tim Ludeman in the pecking order.

WA coach Langer simply can't speak highly enough of what he thinks of Whiteman who now already has 15 Shield matches to his credit despite being just 21.

"Sam Whiteman is a star," Langer said.

"He is a fantastic cricketer and getting better every week. I know that the Australian selectors will be starting to look at him now because who knows how long Brad Haddin will go on.

"We saw Tim Paine here, Chris Hartley has done well in Brisbane and Matthew Wade is doing OK, but Whitey is doing everything that we can ask of him of himself personally and for Western Australia."

While WA's senior players haven’t stepped up enough in a poor last decade-plus for the state, Langer was delighted to see his two best and most experienced batsmen North and Voges again deliver against Tasmania.

North top-scored in both innings with scores of 87 and 79 to have now compiled 759 runs this season at an average of almost 95 with three centuries, a 90, an 80 and a 70.

Voges, meanwhile, has now scored 526 runs at almost 66 with a not out 235 thrown in, but he scored a crucial 75 in the second innings against the Tigers.

"We've talked over the last 18 months that our senior players have to take responsibility and they probably haven’t for a long time," he said.

"At the end of the day, to be successful it's the senior players who have to do the lion's share of the work and Marcus North has been outstanding all season.

"Adam Voges is coming off 200 the game before and playing well here in the second innings so it's good to have that especially when you have so many young players."

Coming into the 2013/14 season, WA had not won a BBL title at all, not a one-day crown since 2004 and not a Shield since 1999.

Finally silverware came to the WACA thanks to the Scorchers and now the aim is for a Shield title but Langer knows that to do that, big efforts at home and away to NSW now are required.

"At the start of the season we set out to win a Sheffield Shield, win a Ryobi Cup, win a Champions League and win a BBL competition. We understand that this keeps us in a really good position in this competition with two games against NSW coming up so our destiny is in our own hands. If we can play well against them home and away, it sets us up really well," he said.

"It's a big game next week and we have a few extra days to prepare for that, and it won't be quite as hectic as the last week has been. They are obviously a pretty good team with a very good bowling attack, and they batted well in this game against Victoria. They are a good side but if we want to win the Sheffield Shield we have to beat the good sides."

WA will make at least one change for this week's game at the WACA Ground against the Blues starting Thursday with Nathan Coulter-Nile ruled out with a hamstring injury and he will be replaced by emerging left-arm quick Jason Behrendorff.

"He (Behrendorff) would have played 100 per cent whether Coults got injured or not. We would have found a way to get him playing this next game," Langer said.

"I'd say he is very unlikely for Thursday but in no doubt for South Africa I would have thought. That will be about three weeks away so I understand it's a minor hamstring strain and hopefully he will do all his rehab."

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