Justin Langer’s resignation has sparked a passionate response from Australian sporting fans and former Test teammates.
Justin Langer’s resignation has sparked a passionate response from Australian sporting fans and ex-teammates, with former Test captain Ricky Ponting calling it “a really sad day as far as Australian cricket is concerned”.
On Saturday, Langer’s management company DESG confirmed that the 51-year-old had tendered his resignation, stepping down as coach of the Australian men’s cricket team with immediately effect.
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Langer replaced Darren Lehmann as national men’s coach following the infamous ball-tampering saga of March 2018, but after Australia lost the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on home soil twice in three years, reports emerged of player dissatisfaction within the national set-up.
A crisis meeting between CA chiefs and senior players was needed last year to address Langer’s breakdown in relationship with the players, sparking suggestions he was in danger of not having his contract renewed.
On Friday, the Cricket Australia board met to discuss Langer’s contract, which was set to expire in June, confirming they would enter “confidential discussions” with the former Australian opener to ensure an outcome “as soon as possible”.
But after CA reportedly offered the West Australian a short-term contract, he turned it down and stepped away from the role. Assistant coach Andrew McDonald is expected to take over ahead of next month’s Pakistan tour.
According to reports, Langer’s management company announced his resignation on social media before Cricket Australia had been informed of the decision.
Langer’s resignation comes after Australia secured its maiden T20 World Cup title in November and retained the Ashes with a comprehensive 4-0 series triumph a few weeks ago.
Speaking on ABC Radio, Ponting suggested Langer had been pushed out of the coaching role after a “small group” of players refused to support him.
“It is a really sad day as far as Australian cricket is concerned and if you look back it has been a really poor six months on the whole in the way that Cricket Australia has handled some of the better people in the Australian cricket — Justin Langer and Tim Paine — and I think it’s been almost embarrassing the way they have handled those two cases,” Ponting said.
“He mustn’t have had the full backing of the board. Me knowing Justin the way that I do, he was very keen to continue in the role, as he should have been after what’s been the best coaching period of his international career having just won the T20 World Cup and then the 4-0 result in the Ashes.
“It seems like a very strange time for a coach to be departing.
“Reading the tea leaves it sounds like a few — and as he says to me a small group in the playing group and a couple of other staff around the team — haven’t entirely loved the way he has gone about it.
“That’s been enough to force a man who has put his life and heart and soul into Australian cricket and done a sensational job at turning around the culture and the way the Australian team has been looked at in the last few years to push him out of the job.”
Several other former teammates and Australian cricket greats have jumped to Langer’s defence in the aftermath of the contract saga.
Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden told ABC Radio on Saturday: “How do you reckon he’d be going? To hear the Australian captain on Sunrise offer no support and commendation. How would you feel?
“And now we hear Pat Cummins saying, ‘This is a high performance environment, we all go through a high performance review’. I’m sorry Pat but that’s garbage … this just reeks of being orchestrated.”
Long-time friend and West Australian teammate Damien Martyn tweeted: “It’s crazy … Took us from our darkest days to here.”
Former Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson wrote on Instagram: “It‘s very disappointing to watch the treatment of one of the very best humans in cricket, on & off the field. Makes you wonder how the future looks & also makes you wonder why would you want to coach the Australian cricket team.”
Langer’s manager James Henderson tweeted: “As a player Justin retired on top after a 5-0 Ashes whitewash. Today, despite the views of a faceless few, he finishes his time as Australian cricket coach winning the T20 World Cup and the Ashes. Lest we forget what JL took over in 2018.”
On Thursday, Australian men’s Test captain Pat Cummins refused to endorse Langer as coach.
“It’s in Cricket Australia’s hands,” he said when asked if he wanted Langer in charge.
“JLs been doing a fantastic job, he’s been there for four years, his contract is obviously up soon, they’re just going through an evaluation process at the moment, which I think is fair, the right thing to do. We all get evaluated all the time as cricketers. It’s part of a high-performance environment.
“That process is happening, it’s a decision for Cricket Australia and we just have to wait.”
Langer will fly back home to Perth for the first time in six months on Saturday. He won 15 of his 27 Tests as Australian men’s coach since taking charge in 2018.