Ashes glory can give Langer the perfect chance to go out on top

Justin Langer has the chance to go out in a blaze of glory as Australian coach by stepping down after the Ashes.

One of Australia’s finest players and statesmen, Langer is tantalisingly close to adding an Ashes triumph to the dramatic and unexpected Twenty20 World Cup win his team had earlier this year.

Australia coach Justin Langer.Credit:Getty

Already 2-0 up after two Tests with three to play, Australia look set to dominate another Ashes series at home.

Few leaders in sport or public life are able to pick the timing of their departure, and this would be ideal for Langer.

Australian cricket is going through a time of renewal following the sudden departure of former Cricket Australia chairman and staunch Langer ally Earl Eddings. Langer stepping down after the Ashes following four years as coach would continue that process.

Langer’s contract ends in June and Cricket Australia said discussions will begin at the end of this series.

“The men’s team won the T20 World Cup last month and are 2-0 up in an Ashes series, so everyone involved in cricket is delighted by the performance of the team and coaching group,” a Cricket Australia spokesman said.

“They are playing exceptionally well and are enjoying their cricket. That is testament to the leaders, the coaches and support staff.

“We applaud the team leaders, Justin and the players for taking ownership of some challenging conversations some months ago.

“Justin has responded to the feedback from the leadership group and been outstanding during that process. Those adjustments have clearly had an effect.”

The coach has taken a back seat since he was fortunate to survive a full-scale mutiny of players and support staff in August over his intense management style.

Sources close to the team claim he has changed significantly since, delegating to support staff and enjoying more social time with the players, including games of golf.

There can also be no doubt about his feelings for the players. Langer flew to Hobart to support Tim Paine immediately after getting out of quarantine from the Twenty20 World Cup when Paine was forced to step down following a sexting scandal.

However, given the extent of the August mutiny it would be a surprise if he was reappointed.

Concerns remain about his volatile nature, highlighted again by a heated exchange he had with SCG curator Adam Lewis following last season’s series defeat against India. Langer strongly criticised Lewis during a nationwide hook-up of curators and Cricket Australia operational staff reviewing the season.

While Lewis declined to comment, others on the call claimed that Langer accused Lewis of preparing pitches that suited opposition teams instead of the Australians.

“It was a bit rough on Adam given there had been rain around in Sydney and the pitch didn’t break up,” one source said. “It was a real put down and showed a lack of respect.”

Cricket Australia did not comment on what, if any, action was taken with Langer following the incident.

Sources close to the team are also concerned that if Langer is reappointed that support staff, who now run training sessions, will leave.

Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood best summed up the new arrangement with Langer in the hours after Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup victory in the UAE during mid-November.

“Everything has really been player-driven,” Hazlewood said. “He’s probably taken a big back seat and let a lot of other staff play their roles, especially the players as well, to take a bit more ownership of what they’re doing in and around training and games. I’d say that’s probably the main thing that’s happened over the past few weeks.”

Australia’s men’s cricket team lift their first T20 World Cup in November.Credit:Getty

In an interview by his former Australian coach and mentor John Buchanan for sports website Code before the Ashes series, Langer discussed how, instead of trying to be a football coach with a cricket side, he had discovered the art of delegation to stop his head from “spinning”.

“The revelation was, four years into my job, I had [chairman of selectors] George Bailey, whose role is to sort that stuff out,” Langer told Buchanan.

“There’s the [assistant] coaches sorting out training and the schedule.

“Everyone in business talks about it, you read about it in every book, and it’s so true. It’s the same with your players, coaches, managers. If everyone plays their role, it is so liberating. Everyone loves their job. There’s less stress.”

At the end of 2006-07 season Langer and Buchanan both retired as winners; Langer as a player after Australia trounced England 5-0 and Buchanan as coach after the Ashes and a World Cup victory.

Langer has the chance to tread that same path again.

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