LIVE: CA boss James Sutherland and new Aussie coach Justin Langer speaking with the media in Melbourne https://t.co/QiQ11K1zEG
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) May 2, 2018
Cricket Australia’s worst kept secret was confirmed this morning, with Justin Langer appointed head coach of the national Test, ODI and T20I teams for the next four years.
The West Australian has long been considered Darren Lehmann’s successor, having filled in on several occasions when his predecessor was on leave.
Originally earmarked to take over from Lehmann in the middle of next year, Langer’s progression was fast-tracked following the ball-tampering scandal that outraged the Australian public.
Naturally – given how unstable Australia’s cricketing landscape is – cricket experts say there’s a few factors that need to be considered.
Why Justin Langer?
Langer’s first task is to restore the bruised reputation of a team devoid of confidence and lacking several marquee players through suspension and injury.
Which is no mean feat, particularly considering the opposition Australia faces in the next 12 months – England in the UK, Pakistan in Asia, and South Africa, India and Sri Lanka at home before next year’s World Cup and Ashes campaigns.
But of all Australia’s candidates, Langer seems most equipped – sentiment supported by Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland who determined the 47-year-old’s “work ethic, leadership and values” as “among his strongest attributes”.
A devout Catholic and proud Australian, with interests in philosophy and mindfulness, Langer is as disciplined as they come and a man of high morals.
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
He’s also turned around the fortunes of a professional cricket team before – a factor veteran cricket broadcaster Glenn Mitchell determined as pivotal to his appointment.
“When he took over Western Australia, there were all sorts of cultural issues there – not just on the field but certainly off it,” Mitchell told Western Independent.
“He’s been able to turn WA around, in particular the Perth Scorchers (which is) the most successful T20 franchise anywhere in the world.
“On a cultural front and on a performance front, he’s done very well.”
Under Langer’s watch, those not prepared to work for their position fell swiftly by the wayside.
Others, like explosive left-hander D’Arcy Short, flourished when the message finally got through.
After copping a blast from his coach, the 27-year-old shed 15kg and dominated club cricket before returning to the state setup with a renewed focus.
He now opens the batting for Australia in T20s and was bought for $775,000 by IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals.
WA boasts more nationally-contracted players than any other state, most of whom have yet to hit the prime of their careers.
Langer is also fiercely competitive, tactically adept and has a strong line of form to support his appointment.
Since 2012, WA and the Perth Scorchers have won three Big Bash League Titles, two domestic one-day trophies and competed in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 Sheffield Shield Finals.
Can he handle the workload?
This question plagues most international coaches and despite his famed resilience, Langer is no different.
The Australian cricket team travels at least seven months a year – often more – and spends little time in WA.
A proud Western Australian, Langer is married with four girls, sits on the board of the West Coast Eagles and has an array of diverse business interests to look after.
For these reasons, it was reported the former Australian opening batsman might consider extending his state contract instead of seeking higher honours.
But Mitchell believes Langer isn’t as anchored to home as he once was.
“I think probably at the moment he feels he has the time and the motivation to do it,” Mitchell said.
“He’s at that point in time where his children are not young – I think the youngest is about 14 and the other three have all left school.
“Perhaps he feels he has the time now that his children are all grown up.”
In the wake of Lehmann’s resignation, questions surrounded whether Australia would hire different head coaches for red and white-ball formats.
During last year’s Ashes, both Lehmann and England coach Trevor Bayliss said the role would eventually have to be divided if the quantity of international cricket wasn’t reduced.
Mitchell voiced the same concerns.
“I’m not convinced he will be able to (coach all three formats),” he said.
“I think in time, during that four-year period, it may change.
“We’ve seen England are looking at three separate coaches – one for each format of the game.
“I understand they want consistency and a message that goes across all three formats of the game but I’m not convinced that in two-and-a-half to three years time, he won’t scale back.”
— Darren Lehmann (@darren_lehmann) May 2, 2018
Mitchell also said Langer’s seat on the Eagles’ board – a position he covets – would prove untenable.
What does this mean for the banned ‘tampering trio’?
Langer’s appointment will only help the chances of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft earning a reprieve.
“They’ve made mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes and we can all get better,” Langer told a crowded press conference on Thursday morning.
“David Warner made a mistake. I love the way he plays his cricket. I’m a cricket tragic, the way he fields and the way he bats – they are things, I guess to the less trained eye, you might not respect as much – but I love the way he plays his cricket.
“Has he got areas to get better in? Yes. Has Steve Smith? Has Cameron Bancroft? Has every single person in Australian cricket? Yes.
“They have all got areas in (which we need to) keep helping and mentoring them and if they meet the standards of the Australian cricket team, of course, they will be welcomed back.”
— Jason Gillespie 🌱🌈 (@dizzy259) May 2, 2018
Who missed out?
Former Australia fast-bowler Jason Gillespie can consider himself unlucky, having brought county powerhouse Yorkshire back from the brink of obscurity.
Under Gillespie’s watch, Yorkshire was promoted to division one of the championship and claimed two titles in 2014 and 2015.
The 43-year-old also guided BBL team Adelaide Strikers to its maiden trophy and was considered squarely in the mix to coach England, before narrowly missing out to compatriot Bayliss.
Aussie great Ricky Ponting was an outsider for a white-ball role, but lacks the experience that Gillespie and Langer boast.
How will this impact WA cricket?
There are plenty of options to replace Langer as Warriors coach, but no standout as yet.
Ex-Australian opener and budding coach Simon Katich has emerged as an early candidate alongside WA assistant coach Kade Harvey.
Mitchell pinpointed another of Langer’s understudies – ex-Australian cricketer Stewart Walters – and fast bowling coach Adrian Griffith as well-regarded contenders, but voiced concern about whether the state’s high standards could be maintained.
“It is going to be a very big issue for WA because Langer has had tremendous success,” he said.
“For WA to keep that sort of success rate, they’re going to have to find someone of Langer’s ilk to keep that incredible run flowing through into the future.
“It’s not going to be an easy task.”
A task made harder by the absence of those on national duties and a raft of senior players battling injuries – Jason Behrendorff, Joel Paris and Sam Whiteman to name a few.
WACA CEO Christina Matthews and her brain’s trust have their work cut out.
CEO Christina Matthews hoping to have new @WACA_Cricket @ScorchersBBL coach in 5 weeks. Simon Katich and Kade Harvey top two early contenders. Also meeting with premier cricket clubs in 2 weeks to discuss Cam Bancroft eligibility to play. Details tonight @9NewsPerth #CricketAus
— Josh Duane (@Josh_Duane) May 3, 2018