PERTH: Embattled head coach Justin Langer on Monday insisted the Australian cricket team was ‘in a better place’ after clear-the-air talks with senior players following discontent over his management style.
Langer came under intense scrutiny in the wake of recent consecutive white-ball series losses to the West Indies and Bangladesh, with friction over his intense leadership and mood swings again resurfacing.
It sparked an emergency meeting with Test skipper Tim Paine, his deputy Pat Cummins, limited-overs captain Aaron Finch and Cricket Australia executives.
Langer admitted it had been a ‘tough’ time personally, but said he had learned from the experience, drawing on the darkest moments in his playing career as a parallel.
“I look back at 1993, 1998 and 2001 when I was dropped from the Australian team,” he told the West Australian newspaper as he aimed to reset ahead of the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup and a home Ashes series against England. “I was devastated when they happened and thought they were amongst the worst times in my life.
“Yet I look back on them now and realise that those experiences, as gutting as they were at the time, made me stronger and better as a player,” he added.
“The situation at the moment is very tough but I am confident that I will become a better coach from it.”
Both Paine and Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley have publicly backed Langer, who revealed he had held candid conversations with select players in which numerous issues were aired.
“We all got a lot off our chests,” he said. “I think we are all in a better place now.”
While Langer has been widely praised for restoring the culture of the Australian team after the 2018 ‘Sandpaper-gate’ scandal in South Africa, rumours of dressing-room friction have never been far away.
He was forced to address negative feedback earlier this year when discontent surfaced about his ‘headmaster-like’ leadership.
Langer said criticism came with not winning.
“When you win, everyone is happy and gets on with things but when you are losing, that is when the finger-pointing starts and people look for excuses,” he said.
“We have had a rough trot in recent times but we retained the Ashes only a little while ago and were ranked No.1 in Test and T20 cricket not that long ago.
“Get back to winning and you won’t hear about anything else.”
Meanwhile, former captain Ricky Ponting has lent his support to his ex-team-mate.
“I know there’s been a lot of negativity the last few weeks, I really felt for Justin, I rang Justin a few times,” Ponting, who captained Australia from 2004 to 2008, told 2GB radio.
“They just got back from that tough tour of the West Indies and then Bangladesh, and he was locked up in his hotel room in Adelaide, and he was sort of copping it left, right and centre. Me and a lot of his close friends have reached out to him.
“As I made really clear to Justin, when you’re in that position in Australian sport, whether you’re a high-profile coach or a captain of a national team, if you’re not getting the results then you’ve got to expect the negativity,” Ponting added.
“If you wind the clock back not even 12 months ago, the Australian team were the number one-ranked test team and T20 team in the world, we know all the talent is there.”
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2021