Jon Swift
2 minute read
5 May 2018
9:15 am

Australian cricket reaches crossroads with coach Langer

Jon Swift

Justin Langer, having arguably walked one line of talk, laid out his future vision at his unveiling this week, focusing on respect.

Justin Langer has been coaching Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield and the Perth Scorchers in the T20 Big Bash League, and is filling the Australian national job for the first time.

There are, at this juncture, more questions than answers about the appointment of Justin Langer as the new coach to a national cricket side riven by self-doubt and nursing a serial hangover from the humiliation of an amateurish ball-tampering debacle.

The aftermath has honed a toxic blade which has been both plunged deep into the sense of Aussie pride and the much-hyped reviews – but yet to take formal shape – into cultural, organisational and governance issues.

“Cricket fans and the Australian public rightly have high expectations regarding the standards of behaviour of our national teams,” said Cricket Australia chair David Peever. “The independent review will provide an important foundation for ensuring these expectations are met.”

It is, many would feel, a long overdue cauterisation of the creeping cancer which has been an unwelcome facet of Australian cricket for far too long.

It was all very well for Allan Border to voice the feeling that “the Australian cricket team itself is not a popular cricket team and a lot of their antics on the field have upset a lot of people”.

This does not come as any cathartic revelation and it must be borne in mind that there are lots of cricket lovers worldwide who regard the iconoclastic Border as one of the architects of that, long before the uncovering of the sand-papered shame of the Cape Town Test, where Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith conspired to alter the condition of the ball.

It could also be argued that the 47-year-old Langer, a veteran of 105 Tests wearing the baggy green, and scorer of over 7 000 Test runs, was one of the band of players under Border responsible for the inexorable shifting of the line between hard and fair and outright on-field intimidation.

Langer, having arguably walked one line of talk, laid out his future vision at his unveiling this week, focusing on respect.

“Respect is worth more than all the gold in the world,” he said. “It’s not just about how we play our cricket but being good citizens and good Australians.”

It sounds ironically idyllic. Langer’s words might just provide Australian cricket with a new set of guidelines.

Not surprisingly, the new thrust raises a new trepidation. We have been there before.

Jon Swift.

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