Justin Langer has replaced Darren Lehmann as coach of the Australian team in a time of uncertainty, as Cricket Australia seeks to clean up the game’s image and culture in the wake of the Newlands ball-tampering affair.
It is believed that Langer was the team’s strong preference to replace Lehmann whenever he chose to finish a tenure stretching back to 2013, and this did not change despite the events of Cape Town, which have ushered two separate reviews into the state of the national teams and CA in general. Rather than the banned Steven Smith, Langer will work alongside the Test captain Tim Paine and a limited-overs captain yet to be named.
In confirming that Langer had been appointed for four years, CA chief executive James Sutherland stated that the governing body had made it’s mind up about Lehmann’s successor quite some time ago. After his decorated playing career, Langer had served as an assistant coach to Tim Nielsen and Mickey Arthur for Australia, then coached Western Australia and the Perth Scorchers to sustained success – albeit no Sheffield Shield titles – over the past six years.
— Darren Lehmann (@darren_lehmann) May 2, 2018
“Whilst Darren Lehmann was not due to complete his term until next year, we have had a succession plan in place for this role for some time,” Sutherland said. “In addition to professional development opportunities, this plan has included several coaches [Steve Rixon, Trevor Bayliss, David Saker and Langer] stepping into the head role to relieve Darren at times, and to also provide support roles, including Justin, and forms part of our long running succession planning process.
“The plan has allowed us to consider several worthy candidates, but Justin was the clear standout, particularly based on his recent coaching and player development achievements. We firmly believe Justin is the right person to lead this team and have huge confidence in what he will bring to the role. As an international cricketer, Justin was a proud and courageous competitor who gave his all for his country. As a coach he has enjoyed success – not only in overseeing strong teams, but also in developing cricketers who are ready to play international cricket for Australia.
“To illustrate this, Western Australia has more nationally-contracted male players than any other state for 2018-19. Justin’s work ethic, leadership and values are among his strongest attributes – and he is widely respected across the global cricket community.”
Langer was an integral part of the domineering and often brutal Australian teams of the early 2000s, retiring after the 2006-07 Ashes whitewash alongside Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. He brought a similarly uncompromising streak to his WA and Scorchers role, ending years of indiscipline in the west but also facing questions from other Big Bash League clubs over the construction of Perth’s highly vaunted and largely homegrown squad.
He will be a panellist on the Rick McCosker-led review of Australian teams, which will dovetail with a wider corporate review of CA to be undertaken by the Sydney-based organisation The Ethics Centre. Langer, a devout Catholic, was a student of Steve Waugh, and shares a reverence for the iconography of the baggy green cap and image of the national team, though balanced with a fervent desire to make life difficult for opponents. How this will square with the new direction charted by Paine remains to be seen.
“It is humbling to be appointed as coach of the Australian Men’s Cricket Team,” Langer said. “I would like to thank the Western Australian Cricket Association and the Perth Scorchers for their support over the past six seasons, and for giving me the opportunity to lead and work with two great teams and many exceptional people.
“I’d like to especially thank my family for being with me on this journey and for supporting me in accepting this position. I am very excited about the scope I now have to coach the country that supported me so much in my cricketing career.
“There will be some significant challenges ahead for our group, but there is a wealth of talent in Australian cricket that I know will do us all proud. I’m thoroughly looking forward to working with all players, as we strive for a successful men’s team across all formats, with the support and respect of the Australian public.”
Langer’s first assignment will be a limited overs series in England in June. Despite discussion of roles for different coaches across formats, CA ultimately favoured consistency and continuity over innovation. The shape of Langer’s support staff is expected to take shape in coming weeks.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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