“From May 3, 2018, begins Australia’s new road, under Justin Langer, keeping the bad memories of March 2018 behind and look forward to the new challenges that will come their way. Australia need to look for the positives from their enriched history, take pride, and move ahead”.
It is the least surprising that Australia have begun their journey into repairing their hammered public image by appointing Justin Langer as their head coach for all formats of the game. The former Australian cricketer, who is also the head coach of Western Australia and Big Bash League franchise Perth Scorchers, had been in their radar for a year now after his predecessor Darren Lehmann announced he would not extend his contract. Langer’s appointment has fast-tracked, courtesy of Lehmann’s resignation following the ball-tampering scandal in March.
On his first day as the new Australian coach, Langer wearing a white shirt, a crisp blue suit, brown leather shoes and a blue tie enters the meeting room, which already has James Sutherland, CA’s CEO. Langer looks sharp but is as nervous as he used to be when he went into the cricket field, wearing the Baggy Green, to bat for his country.
If Australia is in trouble, no one better than Langer can help them right now. He is that kind of man who spends one month of the year bearded and barefoot, while the rest of the year, he packs himself with cricket and cricketers. With the team scarred with ethical concerns, Langer’s presence will help in every way. “I will take character over a cover drive every day,” this is one of Langer’s mantras as a coach.
— Darren Lehmann (@darren_lehmann) May 2, 2018
Langer had a rough welcome into the international arena by the West Indian pace attack. That set a very different mindset for then 23-year-old Langer, who turned too intense in Test cricket. He once got so mad about the game he would overcome his grip issues by glueing his gloves to the bat handle. During his second Test series, in 1993, New Zealand’s John Wright observed the youngster and called him in a corner of the room to give him a piece of advice.
Wright asked Langer, “do you know anything about meditation?’ Langer replied, “Sorry mate, I have no clue what that means.” After scoring a pair of ducks in the Auckland Test, Langer was dropped from the side. After a while, he saw an advertisement in a newspaper about a meditation course. He figured that was an important sign and since then, Langer has mediated almost every day.
So, if there is a possible solution to a problem, Langer will do anything and everything to hunt it down and that is why he is the best man to head the nearly fallen apart Australian cricket team.
For the record, Langer has pulled off a task, as critical as this one, in the past with his home club, Western Australia. He not only transformed Western Australia from the most hated club to what it is today, but also has helped Perth Scorchers win three Big Bash League titles.
Justin Langer is the new Aussie cricket coach … no question he will have a positive impact … Concerns me already about next Yrs Ashes !!
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) May 2, 2018
“When I took over at WA, it was like a dysfunctional family. The ex-players hated the WACA, the WACA hated them back, club cricket hated them, WACA hated them back, media hated the WACA, the WACA hated them back – everyone was angry. I’ve got to bring a bit of love back!” Langer said in his press conference on Thursday.
Just after retirement in 2007, Langer took up the role of Australian Test team’s assistant coach for two years before he was named the senior coach of Western Australia in 2012.
Towards the fag end of 2012, Western Australia had lost both it’s captain and coach in less than a week’s time publicising the disciplinary problems that cost Scorchers the Champions League T20 title that year in South Africa and Western Australia were already without a domestic title for a decade then. One of the major problems in Western Australia was that they overdid with their drinking culture. One of the victims of that was Shaun Marsh, who was wasting his talent and his brother Mitchell Marsh, who like a typical younger sibling, was finally following his brother’s footsteps.
Great appointment by CA with Justin Langer Head coach 👏👏
Determined and Passionate as Opening Bat 🏏and teammate #SangTheSong 👍
Plenty of silverware as @WACA_Cricket @ScorchersBBL Coach 🏆 🏆 🏆
Just dont allow him near the music machine #Jessie #Joshua Kadison 🤔
— Damien Fleming (@bowlologist) May 3, 2018
When Langer landed in Perth to accept Western Australia’s job, apparently the first thing he did after that was meeting Shaun. Langer has known Shaun since the latter was a little boy and he always wanted him to become a better cricketer. “If you don’t change, I’ll still love you, but I won’t pick you,” Western Australia Coach Langer said to Shaun in 2012. Apart from bringing the existing cricketers at WACA back on the track, he invited several club cricketers for a trial. One of them being Andrew Tye, who today is an Australian cricketer, because of Langer.
Tye had spent several years toiling between Perth grade cricket and some leagues in England and by 2012, he was sure that he must forget about his dream of playing for Australia. He then starting curating the wicket at the WACA before Langer put him among the cricketers for Scorchers’ trails. In the next four years, Tye would go on to become the only bowler to have picked three hat-tricks in a single year. Now Tye is a vital member of Australia’s T20I side and is slowly working towards establishing himself in the ODI team as well.
— Jason Gillespie 🌱🌈 (@dizzy259) May 2, 2018
Langer just does not pick players, coaches them and then forget them. What sets him apart is the way he treats and values them. Western Australia’s Cameron Bancroft grew up idolising Langer. Bancroft is a cricket nerd, literally. He is intense, a deep thinker of the game and according to Langer, apart from Mike Hussey, there are only two players who he knows love the game more than anyone else – Steven Smith and Bancroft. Under the management of Langer, Bancroft at 25 made his Test debut and that too in the Ashes.
Character and cover drives. Justin Langer will have simple formula to repair Australian cricket. And high performance will be an outcome not a focus
— John Townsend (@johnt237) May 2, 2018
However, a few months later, a dream debut turned out to a horrific nightmare when the big screen at the Wanderers showed Bancroft tampering the ball during the fourth Test against South Africa in March. Apparently, it was Australia’s vice-captain David Warner’s call, with an approval from Captain Smith, to carry the tampering process which led to the duo’s ban for a year each and nine-month suspension for Bancroft. When the 25-year-old landed in Perth, Langer went to receive the devastated young lad at the airport and the Australian management reportedly apologised to Langer for whatever happened to Bancroft under their watch.
Such is Langer’s influence and reputation in the Australian cricket community.
Now, when Langer will begin his stint as the head coach, the first major task apart from doing the repair work of the team’s global image will be bettering their ODI numbers. Earlier this year, following the 4-1 loss to England at home, Australia had to No. 5 to No. 3 in the ICC ODI rankings and they have remained there yet. They have a chance to better that and avenge that loss against England as the two will be facing again in a five-match ODI series in June and this time in England.
Congratulations Justin Langer on being appointed @CricketAus coach. @WACA_Cricket loss is our national tram’s gain. Look forward to seeing our national team’s performance – and culture – go from strength to strength under his leadership.
— Mike Nahan (@MikeNahan) May 2, 2018
With Smith, Warner missing and Australia’s fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc under the injury clouds, Langer’s office will be full from his first day itself.
If an Australian cricketer is asked which series win defines’ Australia’s legacy, he will say England. But, Langer is different. “The Indian Test tour in about three or four years’ time, to me that’s the ultimate because we will judge ourselves on whether or not we’re a great cricket team if we beat India in India. I look back on my career and the Mt Everest moment was 2004 when we finally beat India in India,” Langer said. He likes to be different and has suggested that he values players more who are different and are comfortable in their own skin.
Listening to Justin Langer speak so passionately about Australian cricket is awesome. It’s the exact same way he’d talk to us in the rooms at Scarborough.
Same passion, same drive, same intensity.
— Theo Doropoulos (@TheoDrop) May 3, 2018
As an international cricketer, he gave his everything to do justice to his Baggy Green. And when he was made in charge outside the field, he has been as efficient. He not only put Western Australia back on the track against the stronger teams but also has developed young cricketers for the highest level of the sport.
From May 3, 2018, begins Australia’s new road, under Justin Langer, keeping the bad memories of March, 2018 behind and look forward to the new challenges that will come their way. Australia need to look for the positives from their enriched history, take pride, and move ahead. As Langer has said, there is no anger in the dressing room and all they have to do is mend their mistakes and work towards earning their lost respect back. As because,”To me respect is worth more than all the gold in the world. We must earn respect on and off the field,” Australia’s new coach Langer said. He seemed to have smashed the ball outside the park with his words, it’s time for his actions to follow next.