It’s the end of Justin Langer era

Justin Langer’s time as head coach of Australia’s men’s team is over after the former opening batter ended six months of speculation and walked away from the role.

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Langer’s management group confirmed on Saturday their client had tendered his resignation, effective immediately.

Langer had spoken with Cricket Australia officials on Friday night after his future was discussed at length at a seven-hour board meeting earlier in the day.

Cricket Australia (CA) later revealed that Langer had been offered a short-term contract extension, which he rejected.

Andrew McDonald, an assistant coach under Langer, has been appointed head coach in the interim.

Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said they held discussions last night about extending Langer’s contract until the end of the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

“We’re disappointed that Justin decided not to accept this extension and instead resigned, effective immediately,” Hockley told reporters on Saturday afternoon.

“We very much felt that Justin had earned the right to defend the T20 World Cup on home soil … but we understand and respect his decision.”

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Hockley said the contract extension offered was for a “period of transition”, and the CA board was unanimous in endorsing that approach.

Cricket Australia confirmed in a statement earlier this afternoon that it had accepted Langer’s resignation, which they received today.

“Justin was offered a short-term extension to his current contract, which sadly he has opted not to accept,” the CA statement read.

“CA would like to thank Justin for his outstanding leadership since he became Australian men’s team coach in 2018 and for guiding the team to the T20 World Cup title last year and the 4-0 Ashes victory.”

“Justin is not only a legend of the game but an outstanding individual.”

“The contract extension offered to Justin was the result of a thorough review process that evaluated many factors including future requirements of the team and the upcoming extensive schedule of fixtures.”

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“The extension was approved by the CA Board and was put to Justin last night. It included the opportunity to defend the T20 World Cup title in Australia at the end of this year.”

“Justin informed CA this morning he was not accepting the offer and would resign with immediate effect.”

Langer’s future had been a point of contention for more than a year, with reports of widespread discontent among players and coaches about his methods.

The issue was first made public in The Test documentary in 2020, where Usman Khawaja told Langer players were “intimidated” and “walking on eggshells.”

At a camp in June last year, players had offered “confronting” feedback to Langer over his coaching style, with white-ball captain Aaron Finch praising the coach for taking it head-on.

But the matter threatened to boil over again in August when Finch, Tim Paine and Pat Cummins met with CA’s hierarchy to raise further concerns.

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It prompted Langer to take a much more hands-off approach in the Twenty20 World Cup, which Australia won for the first time.

Beyond that, Langer’s 55.5 per cent win record in Test cricket is second only to John Buchanan among all Australia coaches.

He also led Australia’s first retention of the Ashes in England in 18 years in 2019 before winning the series 4-0 this summer, as well as claiming the World Cup.

Just last month, Australia also returned to the No.1 ranking for Test cricket, marking the second time they had gone back to the top under Langer’s watch.

But the longer the summer went on it became clearer players were not willing to publicly endorse an extension of the coach’s contract beyond its expiry date in June.

Cummins shouldered arms when asked about Langer’s future after Australia wrapped up the Ashes and again refused to endorse him as coach as recently as this week.

“Justin has been an outstanding coach of the Australian men’s team over the past four years,” Hockley said in an earlier statement.

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“He has restored the trust in the team and his legacy is assured.”

“We are extremely proud of his achievements since he took over in 2018, including the recent T20 World Cup victory and Ashes success.”

“We are naturally disappointed Justin has decided against continuing as coach but respect his decision and wish him all the best in the future.”

“I would like to sincerely thank Justin and also his family for all that they have given to Australian cricket over the past four years, for which we remain eternally grateful.”

Test legends Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden have slammed Cricket Australia (CA) for its handling of Justin Langer’s departure as head coach of the national men’s team, while a tearful Hayden has said the lack of public backing from players in the lead-up to Langer’s resignation would have been “extremely hurtful” for his former teammate.

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Langer resigned his post today, effective immediately, the morning after a meeting of the Cricket Australia board where the 51-year-old’s future as head coach was discussed at length.

Ponting labelled Langer’s exit, almost five months before his contract was due to expire, “a really sad day” and said the way CA’s board and executives handled Langer’s exit, as well as that of former Test skipper Tim Paine late last year, had been “almost embarrassing”.

“I think it’s a really sad day as far as Australian cricket is concerned,” Ponting told ABC radio.

“And if you look back, it’s been a really poor six months. I think of the way that Cricket Australia as a whole have handled some of the better people in Australian cricket, Justin Langer and Tim Paine, I think it’s been almost embarrassing with the way they’ve handled those two cases.”

Hayden, meanwhile, criticised Test captain Pat Cummins for declining in recent weeks to public endorse Langer to get a new contract.

Cummins had insisted that reviewing Langer’s suitability for the role was fair in a “high-performance environment” and while he was part of CA’s process, it was ultimately not up to him to make the decision on the coach’s future.

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“It was absolutely clear that no one backed him,” a clearly emotional Hayden told the ABC.

“If you listen to the Australian captain the other day not mention once any kind of commendation or support for him, I don’t think (Justin) would be going very well at all. That would be extremely hurtful.”

“The whole thing just reeks of being orchestrated, basically from the moment all of this garbage started coming out (about Langer’s coaching style) in winter last year. You could see the writing was on the wall.”

However, Hayden agreed with Ponting that Cummins would have been in “a difficult position” as captain given reports of widespread dissatisfaction with Langer’s methods amongst players and staff.

“Deep down, Pat might have known that this day was coming,” Ponting told ABC Radio.

“If he had have gone on the front foot and endorsed Justin, they would have been in a position where they wouldn’t have been able to move on from him.”

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“If it’s not just him, if there are other players that are coming to him and letting him know that maybe they feel that Justin is not the right man, I think that actually puts Pat in a difficult position as well.”

Ponting described Langer as ‘like a brother’ but added he didn’t get involved in the politics surrounding his former teammate’s future, apart from offering Langer personal support.

But he noted the change in landscape of Australian cricket where players have more power than they did in his playing days.

“Never in my time as a player or as captain of the team did us as a player group ever influence what a board was thinking as far as appointments of coaches,” he said.

“It seems this time like the players, and maybe a couple of the other personnel around the Australian cricket team, might have been influenced Cricket Australia into making the decision that they have.”

“Reading the tea leaves, it sounds like a few – and (Langer) would say to me a very small (number) of the playing group and he believes a couple of other staff around the team – haven’t entirely loved the way that he’s gone about it.”

“And that’s been enough to force (out) a man that’s put his life and heart and soul into Australian cricket. (He’s) done what I believe has been a sensational job in turning around the culture and the way that the Australian cricket team has been looked at over the last three or four years, (but it) has been enough to push him out of his dream job.”

“I am very close to Justin, we’re like brothers, but I’ve not got too heavily involved in this because … there’s no way that I could change the way that this looked like it was heading.”

“What’s happened today, I’ve sort of felt that has been heading that way for quite a while.”