Cricket: Langer delivers shock resignation as Australia coach

This comes after he after failed to secure the public support of key players, and as governing body Cricket Australia made clear his days were numbered. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian men's cricket coach Justin Langer announced his abrupt departure Saturday (Feb 5), just weeks after his side trounced archrivals England in a lopsided Ashes series and months after they won the T20 World Cup.

The 51-year-old resigned from the top management job in Australian sports after failing to secure the public support of key players, and as governing body Cricket Australia made clear his days were numbered.

Board members held lengthy "robust" discussions about Langer's future into Friday night, but failed to reach an agreement with the former Test batsman.

The coach is said to have bristled at being offered a one-time extension until the end of the T20 World Cup in November - this despite a stellar record that culminated in a 4-0 Ashes victory and Australia being ranked the world's No. 1 Test team.

Sports management company DSEG announced Langer's departure in a terse statement saying "our client Justin Langer has this morning tendered his resignation as coach of the Australian men's cricket team".

"The resignation follows a meeting with Cricket Australia last evening. The resignation is effective immediately."

Cricket Australia said it had accepted Langer's resignation, while praising his "outstanding leadership".

"Justin is not only a legend of the game but an outstanding individual," it said, adding Andrew McDonald has been appointed as interim head coach.

As a player, Langer's searing intensity drove him to greatness with the bat. But it also appeared to play a role in his downfall.

In the months leading to his departure disgruntled players complained anonymously to local media about his "headmaster-like" leadership style.

"I am intense, yeah, I am serious, I am - do I get grumpy sometimes? Yeah, I get grumpy sometimes," Langer acknowledged early last year.

"I'm not perfect that's for sure."

But his position seemed untenable when the new captain and world No. 1 bowler Pat Cummins pointedly refused to publicly endorse Langer when asked recently.

"It lies in Cricket Australia's hands," he said. "They're just going through an evaluation process at the moment which I think is fair and the right thing to do."

Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley did not give details of the dressing room divisions, but said it was time for the team to "transition" to a new coach for the sake of "unity and future success".

In the months leading to his departure disgruntled players complained anonymously to local media about his "headmaster-like" leadership style. PHOTO: AFP

Langer's departure has infuriated allies, who accused Cricket Australia of treachery and ungratefulness given his success reviving the scandal-tainted side's fortunes.

Langer took the job in 2018, with Australian cricket at its lowest ebb for decades in the wake of the sandpaper-gate cheating affair that shocked the country.

Langer's long-time partner at the crease Matthew Hayden said that after that low, the new coach had restored pride in their beloved baggy green cap.

"He came into one of the most toxic environments in Australian sport," Hayden told ABC. "It had been disgraced and dishonoured."

Langer not only ended the rot but oversaw a string of wins that took Australia back to the top of the Test rankings and culminated in recent victories in the T20 World Cup and the Ashes.

Former captain Mark Taylor said he suspected Langer had completed the job he was brought in to do and Cricket Australia now wanted "more of a man manager and less of an absolute cricket coach and disciplinarian".

That view was echoed by Hockley, who said Cricket Australia would be looking for someone "strategic" to manage batting, bowling and other coaches who were ready to step up into more autonomous roles.

Regardless of how his tenure as coach ended, Langer's feats with the bat have already sealed a spot in Australian cricket's Hall of Fame.

He played 105 Tests from 1993 to 2007, averaging 45.27 and amassing 7,696 runs, including 23 centuries.

Langer was part of a golden era for Australian cricket, with greats such as Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath and Ponting in the all-conquering team.

He attributed his success to dogged determination rather than dazzling natural ability and expected those around him to display the same unwavering application.

Langer and Hayden became one of the most prolific opening combinations in history, seeing off the new ball in 113 Tests for a combined 5,655 runs at an average of 51.58.

Several prominent players have suggested Langer may be a good fit for the now-coachless England side.

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