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'Please stop yelling': Why time has run out for 'volatile', 'pork chop' Langer

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Roar Guru
3rd February, 2022
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12984 Reads

Why should a national cricket coach stay in their job longer than four years?

Could someone tell me? What’s the benefit? What are they going to do after that time? Grow an extra brain? Develop extra sensitivity or insight?

Ensure things don’t slide back to the anarchy that existed when they took over because only they can save they day?

Surely four years is long enough to introduce whatever fresh ideas they had?

Bob Simpson did the bulk of his good work as a national coach within four years (who knows, a fresh one might’ve got us over the line in the West Indies in 1990-91). Ditto John Buchanan, Darren Lehmann, Duncan Fletcher, and Andy Flower.

Did any of them get better after four years?

National cricket coaches seem to get worse the longer they stay. They run out of ideas, become less effective, and clash with players more.

Seriously, how is Justin Langer going to improve?

Justin Langer

(Photo by Matt King – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

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I’ve heard he’s changed. So this would be a different Langer, is that right? Do people really change?

I know they can get fitter, give up booze, change careers, obtain financial security, find love… but do you ever change a person’s essential nature? Didn’t Justin Langer once admit he hasn’t changed?

I get Langer’s got lots of endorsement from all his old mates who played with him, which is terrific, and sweet… but have they been coached by him?

Have they ever been stuck in quarantine with him? Has he ever been their boss?

Because the coach of the Australian men’s team is the boss, remember – he’s a selector, in all three formats.

Of course his former teammates want Langer to stay on as coach. It gives them prime access to the Australian men’s team.

Langer was a teammate. And in some cases a friend. They know his good qualities. But couldn’t someone else do it as well, or better?

What if Australia had appointed Jason Gillespie to replace Lehmann after sandpaper gate? Would things have been drastically different?

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I know, I know, Langer has passion (seriously, you don’t have to remind me, we hear it all the time)… but doesn’t Gillespie? Or Tom Moody? Or Andrew McDonald?

Are they passion voids because they don’t carry on like a pork chop all the time?

I get Langer played more Tests than all them but isn’t there more to coaching than having played a lot of Tests?

Andrew McDonald

Andrew McDonald. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

I absolutely acknowledge that Australia won the T20 World Cup and the Ashes at home under Langer.

But didn’t we also lose two home Test series against India and a series of white-ball tournaments?

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And I don’t meant to be disrespectful, but was winning the Ashes at home that hard?

England were beyond terrible this summer. Did we even need a coach?

Did the incident in Bangladesh not happen? Did the volatility not happen? The volatility reported again and again.

I know I’m going off second-hand reports here, but from the sounds of it, in a normal workplace those incidents would be major HR issues.

Most of us have worked with volatile people at some stage or other in our lives. No one likes it.

Yep, passionate, great, yep, got it, please stop yelling.

At best, volatile people are annoying. You’ve got to tiptoe around them all the time, and always be on your guard against triggers.

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At worst, they’re trauma-inducing, especially when that person is your boss. Especially when that person is the sort of person who is surprised to hear negative feedback, saying “no one’s said they were unhappy before”.

Justin, you’re the boss. No one likes telling the boss the truth, especially when that boss is prone to snapping and who blames all criticism on losing.

Head coach Justin Langer and Steve Smith talk during an Australian Ashes squad nets session at The Gabba on December 07, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Should we have a cricket coach who keeps wanting to be a football coach? What place do analogies about Alex Ferguson, the Bledisloe Cup and the West Coast Eagles have in cricket?

Isn’t cricket different? There are no interchanges or substitutes, are there? Doesn’t Test cricket go for five days or am I missing something? Why do people keep comparing the two sports?

I hear a lot – and I mean a lot – about how Langer took over the Australian team at its darkest ebb.

I totally get it was not cool that several players cheated and/or had meltdowns, and there were a bunch of fools running Cricket Australia. But it wasn’t the first time in history either thing happened.

Are things really that better than they were under Darren Lehmann? I guess there’s less sledging, gamesmanship and sandpaper.

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Could other coaches not have stopped that? Surely ‘don’t cheat or you’ll get banned for a year’ is a bigger deterrent than anything a coach might say?

Yes, the team feels more mature. But isn’t that a matter of selection?

To be fair, Langer can point to the development of Marnus Labuschagne into a world champion and maybe Cameron Green and Travis Head (let’s see how they go overseas).

But would this not have happened under some other coach? He can also point to the non-development of Joe Burns, Cam Bancroft, the Marshes and Marcus Harris.

Marcus Harris of Australia leaves the field after being dismissed by Ollie Robinson of England during day two of the First Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at The Gabba on December 09, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Under Langer, Australia are still hometown bullies, still weak overseas, still weak at international white-ball cricket but capable of pulling our finger out and winning a World Cup when the team clicks (we won one under Lehmann, remember).

We still seem to be over reliant on one or two batsmen, plus Nathan Lyon and our tremendous fast bowlers.

We still need to be careful about judging our strength from thrashing England at home. That gave us a false impression of how good we were in 2017-18 and 2013-14.

We still seem to be searching for Dave Warner’s opening partner, and Nathan Lyon’s successor, and whether Usman Khawaja has a place in the side (seriously, it’s been a decade and we’re still discussing that).

We still pick keepers for their batting rather than keeping (Alex Carey and Matthew Wade). We still keep trialling Marsh brothers in the side and demonstrate a curious reluctance to try Glenn Maxwell as a Test player.

We still treat minor Test nations like crap. Australian cricket was in a tired state around sandpaper-gate but it wasn’t a complete mess.

It’s got better, a bit, but it certainly hasn’t become an all-achieving juggernaut.

Langer has clearly put his heart and soul into the job – as I’m sure lots of other coaches would have done.

He’s got some mixed results – as I’m sure lots of other coaches would have done.

I’m sorry his feelings are hurt by all this, truly, but since when did the coach’s feelings become the biggest issue in Australian cricket?

Four years gives a national cricket coach, a home and away Ashes, plus an ODI World Cup campaign. Surely that’s enough?

He’s had a go, let’s try someone else.

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