Justin Langer to coach Australia in all three formats
Australia have found their new leader, appointing former Test opener Justin Langer as head coach in all three forms of the game. Though there were a number of candidates, the decision doesn’t come as a major surprise, with Langer having been touted as a strong favourite for the role in recent weeks.
The man himself
Langer made a name for himself within Australian cricket throughout the country’s golden era of cricket. Debuting in 1993 and retiring in 2007, he formed one of the most formidable opening partnerships in cricket history with Matthew Hayden. By the end of his career, Langer had played 105 Test matches, notched up 23 centuries and 50 half-centuries on the way to 7696 runs, and earned himself an average of 45.27. Pretty handy numbers.
Soon after his retirement, it became clear that Langer was going to stay in the game for some time to come. In 2009, he was appointed assistant coach of the Australian cricket team, working both as a batting coach and as a mentor. He stayed in this role for a number of years, before being offered a head coaching job in Western Australia. Since then, he has coached both the Western Australian cricket side and the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash, earning a great deal respect not just for his tactical nous, but also for his ability to instil a strong culture in the teams he leads.
In the wake of the ball-tampering saga which plagued Australia’s recent tour of South Africa, and saw three players, including their captain and vice-captain, banned from the game for up to 12 months, many questions have unsurprisingly arisen surrounding the culture of the team. For that reason, Langer immediately emerged as a strong candidate to replace Darren Lehmann, who retired at the end of the South African tour.
He will work as the head coach of the Test team, the ODI team, and the T20 team, and has been appointed for four years. Cricket Australia have demonstrated a great deal of confidence in their decision, with CA Chief Executive James Sutherland stating that while they considered ‘several worthy candidates, Justin was the clear standout’.
What is he inheriting?
Despite the loss of particularly Steven Smith and David Warner, as well as Cameron Bancroft, Langer will still have plenty of talented players at his disposal. The test side is ranked third in the world, and though that was thanks in large parts to the exploits of Smith and Warner, they fortunately have until December to prepare for their next test. In Mitch Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, they still have one of the best, if not the best, bowling lineups in the world, ensuring they will maintain the capacity to be one of the best sides in the world.
He will have a few more challenges in the 50-over form of the game. Australia has been struggling in ODI’s for a while; they are ranked fifth in the world, and in their most recent effort went down 4-1 to England at home after dominating them in the Ashes series. They will get a chance to quickly redeem themselves though, as they will head to England for another five game ODI series in June.
From a T20 perspective, Australia is the second best team in the world, and have an array of explosive batsmen who will be able to cover the loss of, most pertinently, David Warner.
Langer certainly has some challenges, but from a talent perspective he has a strong base to work with, even with the loss of some of their best players to the ball-tampering saga. Ordinarily, strong results on field are enough to cover for any problems off it, but in Australia’s current position that may not be the case. He will no doubt face more scrutiny than most new coaches with regards to his work on the culture of the team, but his past work as a coach and mentor suggest this won’t be a problem for Justin Langer.