‘Be careful what you wish for’: Ashes greats shocked by Langer-CA stand-off
Shane Warne says he’s “surprised” Justin Langer is yet to be retained by Cricket Australia, while Michael Vaughan has warned the governing body: “Be careful what you wish for”.
The Australia coach is nearing the end of his four-year contract, which takes him to mid-2022, having taken the reins in the aftermath of the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.
Langer has since led a revolution of the culture of Australian men’s cricket, while winning a maiden men’s T20 World Cup crown, and retaining the Ashes urn twice.
Nonetheless, Langer’s tenure last year brought widespread reports of unrest in the Australian dressing rooms over his alleged mood swings and micromanagement.
Now there appears to be a stand-off between Langer and CA with the governing body yet to offer a new deal despite all performance objectives being met since the start of the T20 World Cup in October.
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“I’m a little surprised actually that he hasn’t already been signed,” Warne said to foxsports.com.au ahead of the Australian cinematic release of documentary Shane on Thursday.
“They had their dramas six months ago, to me it looks like they’ve sorted it all out. And I think Australian cricket is finally starting to look in really good shape.
“Unless there’s something going on that I’m not sure about, I’m not sure why they haven’t signed him again.”
Former Ashes-winning captain Vaughan is also surprised, saying on Fox Cricket on Wednesday that he would be thrilled to have Langer involved in English cricket should Australia not want him.
“I would jump at the chance,” Vaughan said. “Be careful what you wish for, that’s all I’ll say.
“The grass is not always greener and Justin Langer, from what I see, he’s doing a fantastic job. If I was Cricket Australia I’d sign him up for at least a couple more years...”
Vaughan pointed to the success Langer had in 2019 — when Australia retained the Ashes urn in England for the first time since 2001 — as reason he should be retained until the next series in the UK in 2023.
“He’d take all that information to make sure that in 2023 you (Australia) go on to win the Ashes convincingly in English conditions, because they’ve got the squad and the mentality around the group with Justin’s kind of leadership to go on and do so.
“But if you don’t want him, yeah, we’ll have him.”
For his own part, Langer has been coy on his future, refusing to reveal his plans when asked after Australia won the Ashes in Melbourne last month.
When asked by Fox Cricket’s Kath Loughnan if he wants to leave the role, Langer laughed and said: “We’ll worry about that later.
“But we’ll be enjoying this at the moment because I’m still pinching myself.”
His captain, Pat Cummins, also couldn’t be drawn on the matter.
“I think we’ll savour this victory today and continue for the Ashes, and I don’t think today is the day to speculate on that,” Cummins said when asked about Langer’s position.
Langer’s position today looks different to how it did six months ago when his intense style grated on the playing group to the point where certain individuals went above his head with complaints.
That resulted in honest discussions between Langer, CA and certain players, leading to the coach taking a backwards step and delegating roles more willingly.
Since then, Australia has lost just one match — a T20 pool stage game to England — while the team has won a further nine times across all formats and secured two trophies.
Kerry O’Keeffe said on Fox Cricket that “you cannot argue” with the results Langer has had since crisis talks last year.
“I cannot believe that he’s not getting a lot more accolades for what Australia has achieved,” he said.
Nonetheless, he added: “Is four to five years about the right time span for a Test cricket coach? Many have said that’s about right.
“Is it time that his legacy should be a big Ashes victory and a T20 World Cup and they don’t resign? I don’t know. But it would be a brave move after that. What has he done that would deny him another contract? I don’t know.”
The way forward could be that Langer takes a split role, focusing on only Test cricket, only white ball formats, or even just T20 cricket, as suggested by Fox Cricket’s Tom Morris last week.
When asked by foxsports.com.au if he would support a split role for Langer, Warne was unequivocal.
“I’m a big believer of split roles for the coaching staff,” Warne said. “I think it’s so hard on the coaches being away for so long all the time.
“There’s different teams, so why not different coaches because it’s a different form of the game?”
He added: “Maybe you could do a specific T20 coach, or you split it and do white ball coach and red ball coach. I think that definitely should be a discussion, to keep the coaches fresh.
“I’d be all for it.”