Justin Langer could be leading England against Australia at the T20 World Cup in October as a precursor to next year’s Ashes series in the UK after he reportedly put his hand up to coach the Old Enemy.
According to a report in the London Telegraph, he has made it clear that he would be interested in talking to ECB officials about replacing Chris Silverwood, who was punted after the 4-0 Ashes series drubbing in Australia.
Langer, who resigned after being offered only a short-term extension by Cricket Australia until the end of the T20 World Cup, has strong support to take over as England coach given the team’s current state of disarray.
England were thumped by 10 wickets by the West Indies in Grenada to go down 1-0 in the three-match series, meaning their record in their past 20 Tests is four wins, five draws and 11 losses. They have lost their five most recent series.
Joe Root is under immense pressure to retain the Test captaincy with former skippers Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain and Mike Atherton part of a chorus of crickets saying his time as leader should end after his 26th loss in 64 matches in charge.
With the team in need of a complete rebuild, Langer’s uncompromising approach could add some much-needed steel into the English camp.
His intensity and perceived micromanagement grated on the Australian players after nearly four years at the helm but the English players are in no position to dictate how they should be coached given their recent poor performances.
Helping Langer’s cause is the fact that Andrew Strauss is the chairman of the ECB cricket committee which is overseeing the appointment of the new coach.
Langer played on the English county scene alongside Strauss at Middlesex and the two have remained friends after their playing days ended.
News also broke on Tuesday, via NewsCorp’s Ben Horne, that the Hobart Hurricanes are keen on Langer to replace Adam Griffith as coach. It’s good for Langer to know he has options and potential interest from the Hurricanes also lets ECB execs know they can’t sit on their hands.
Strauss’s team will look to appoint a director of cricket in the next couple of weeks to replace Ashley Giles, another victim of the disastrous Ashes campaign.
From there they will turn their attention to selecting a new coach to be ready for the three-match home series against world Test champions New Zealand, which starts at Lord’s on June 2.
“I know Justin Langer well. He’s done a good job with the Australian team and he’s one of a number of coaches that will hopefully be available,” Strauss said when asked about Langer last month.
Former England batter Paul Collingwood was the caretaker coach for the tour of the West Indies which also included a 3-2 defeat in a T20 series.
Collingwood backed Root to remain as skipper despite the unsuccessful Caribbean campaign and said he was keen to become the full-time coach.
“It’s stressful,” he said after the third Test loss in Grenada. “You wake up so many times in the night. But it’s very rewarding, I promise you. I can imagine if you start winning and turn the corner, the satisfaction you’d get from that would be incredible.
“It was always my challenge to leave this team in a better place than when I first got it and I feel as though it’s a lot stronger now. I’ve thrown my hat into the ring [for head coach] and if they want us, they know where I am.”
All-rounder Ben Stokes is the favourite to become Test captain if Root loses his position or steps down.
Stokes and Langer would prove a formidable leadership duo for a rebuilding England side.
They are both combative personalities known for their abrasive styles.
England now have a reputation for being pushovers on the international cricket circuit – even if they were unable to turn losses into wins quickly, Stokes and Langer would instil a toughness into the team that has been sadly lacking.
Langer has kept a low profile since his messy split with CA at the start of February.
Senior players were accused of undermining him after reports emerged that they had complained to CA officials about his leadership style. Test captain Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch spoke publicly after Langer’s exit to say they respected his efforts immensely but thought the time had come for a different leadership style in the dressing room as the nucleus of the team had matured in recent years.
Andrew McDonald stepped up from assistant to caretaker coach for the current tour of Pakistan, overseeing Australia’s 1-0 Test series win heading into the white-ball matches which get under way with an ODI on Tuesday night in Lahore.
In his resignation letter, Langer stood by his principles which helped rebuild the Australian team following the ball-tampering scandal in 2018 when he took over the reins from Darren Lehmann.
Langer coached Australia to the T20 World Cup title in the UAE in November before their thumping Ashes triumph in his final two acts in the job.
“My life has been built on values of honesty, respect, trust, truth, and performance and if that comes across as ‘too intense’ at times, I apologise,” he wrote. “It is said that in any venture, if you leave things in a better place than when you started then you have done your job.
“I am grateful that today, I am going out on a high.”
The ECB is toying with the idea of splitting the coaching role into two jobs with one person overseeing the Test team with the other in charge of the white-ball squads, potentially Collingwood as the limited-overs specialist.
If that is the case, then Langer may not be on deck when England match up against Australia at what is sure to be a sellout crowd at the MCG on October 28 in their T20 pool match.
But the prospect of Langer wearing the opposing team’s kit when the Australians head to England next year to defend the Ashes urn would add even more intrigue to cricket’s oldest rivalry.