Leading into the tournament, Australia had lost five consecutive T20 series, with the deficits shifting from narrow to damning as the World Cup neared.
Crushing 4-1 series defeats at the hands of the West Indies and Bangladesh were enough to shatter the belief of the Australian public and experts alike. The prospect of progressing past the group stage, let alone winning the World Cup, wasn’t just a pipe-dream, it was a distant fantasy.
But you couldn’t blame fans for losing faith, they were just reading the form-guide.
Inside the four walls of the Australian dressing room, however, they were reading from their own script.
A script meticulously constructed by the driven and devoted Justin Langer, a man who refused to let his legacy be defined by the searing blowtorch of the media.
He shielded his troops from the deafening condemnation of their World Cup hopes, and morphed whispers of factions and discontent into a unified chorus of hope.
This was made possible by his courage to be vulnerable.
In the face of scrutiny, when others would’ve bitterly justified their nuances until their tenure grew stale and heads rolled, Langer allowed himself to take criticism on board.
It culminated in what Josh Hazlewood described as a “back-seat” role for the under-pressure coach, with assistant coaches afforded greater responsibility and players the master of their own destiny.
It worked wonders, and may have saved Langer’s job
But who is the man behind the steely gaze?
The answer to this question can be found within the pages of his nine published books, dating all the way back to 1999.
The second line of his 2002 text, The Power of Passion, reads: “I know self-belief is the essence of personal progress.”
It’s a philosophy that allowed Matthew Wade to strike a blistering 18-ball 41 not out in the dying stages of the semi-final, and Mitch Marsh to plunder that career-defining 77 not out in the final.
Two players that could’ve easily been discarded on the scrap-heap of Australian cricketers, instead playing a pivotal role in Australia’s first ever T20 World Cup triumph.
All because Langer instilled them with an unwavering sense of self-belief.
That pair personifies the success story that is this Australian T20 team.
A team that seemed destined to falter like all those before them, but has now achieved what no other Australian side could.
But such is the fast-moving nature of international cricket, success is never final, and focus has already shifted to the upcoming Ashes series.
Whether this triumph can translate into the red-ball arena remains to be seen. But one thing’s for certain: Langer’s men won’t be short of belief this summer.