Justin Langer’s latest temporary national appointment continues to fuel the prevailing belief that he is destined to ultimately succeed incumbent Australian head coach Darren Lehmann.The Western Australian coach will take over the reins for Australia’s three-match Twenty20 International series against Sri Lanka in February after Cricket Australia’s (CA) board ratified the appointment on Thursday (December 8). Langer will fill-in for Lehmann, who will be part of Australia’s tour of India, beating out several prominent candidates including Shane Warne, Brad Haddin, Jason Gillespie, Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, reportedly. There is speculation of Ponting, the former Australian captain, being appointed as Langer’s assistant coach for the series.
In perhaps the worst-kept secret in Australian cricket, Langer is viewed as the eventual successor to Lehmann, who is contracted until 2019. Accordingly, Langer acted as interim coach during Australia’s One-Day International tour of the Caribbean mid-year when Lehmann took a break.
On this occasion, the increasingly congested cricket calendar has caused a clash in formats with the T20I series against Sri Lanka scheduled at the same time as Australia’s Test tour of India. It has provided another opportunity for Langer to showcase his coaching skills on the international stage but the 46-year-old believed it wasn’t an ideal situation.
“I think it’s still really important to have one person overseeing the whole thing,” Langer said on Friday (December 9). “In a perfect world, you have one captain and one coach overseeing it all.
“But in times like this (where there’s a schedule conflict) you can have good people to help out when required,” he added. “But I honestly don’t think that’s the way forward (on a permanent basis). It can become diluted messages sometimes.”
Since being appointed WA coach in 2012, Langer has built a strong foundation and culture within the team across all three formats. The Perth Scorchers have played in three straight Big Bash League (BBL) finals, winning consecutively in 2014 and ’15, while WA were runners-up in the Sheffield Shield in 2013-14 and 2014-15 after having not previously made a final since 1999. They also won the 2014-15 Matador Cup having not placed higher than third in the previous decade.
Langer believed his ability to coach both WA and the Scorchers provided the necessary stability across the formats. “One of our advantages at the Scorchers is we’ve been able to have that continuity of one coach and the same coaches right throughout the system,” he said. “Our record at the Scorchers shows if you keep that continuity throughout the program, you get the benefit. My view is that’s the way it should stay.”
On Thursday, Anthony Everard, the BBL boss, revealed that CA were considering hosting a Big Bash match on Christmas Day in the future. However, Langer was not supportive of the concept. “I hope it doesn’t happen,” he said. “Christmas Day is a really sacred day. I would not like to see sport played on Christmas Day.
“It’s a great time for the families. We’ve got to respect the players, coaches and administrators,” he added.