Cricket Sports

Langer steps down as Australia coach, effective immediately

Justin Langer turns down the offer of a short-term contract extension, with Andrew McDonald installed as interim head coach

Justin Langer’s time as head coach of Australia’s men’s team is over after the former opening batter ended six months of speculation and walked away from the role.

Langer’s management group confirmed on Saturday their client had tendered his resignation, effective immediately.

Langer had spoken with Cricket Australia officials on Friday night after his future was discussed at length at a seven-hour board meeting earlier in the day.

Cricket Australia (CA) later revealed that Langer had been offered a short-term contract extension, which he rejected.

Andrew McDonald, an assistant coach under Langer, has been appointed head coach in the interim.

“Cricket Australia has accepted men’s team head coach Justin Langer’s resignation, which was received today,” a CA statement read.

“Justin was offered a short-term extension to his current contract, which sadly he has opted not to accept.

“CA would like to thank Justin for his outstanding leadership since he became Australian men’s team coach in 2018 and for guiding the team to the T20 World Cup title last year and the 4-0 Ashes victory.

“Justin is not only a legend of the game but an outstanding individual.

“The contract extension offered to Justin was the result of a thorough review process that evaluated many factors including future requirements of the team and the upcoming extensive schedule of fixtures.

“The extension was approved by the CA Board and was put to Justin last night. It included the opportunity to defend the T20 World Cup title in Australia at the end of this year.

“Justin informed CA this morning he was not accepting the offer and would resign with immediate effect.”

Langer’s future had been a point of contention for more than a year, with reports of widespread discontent among players and coaches about his methods.

The issue was first made public in The Testdocumentary in 2020, where Usman Khawaja told Langer players were “intimidated” and “walking on egg shells”.

At a camp in June last year, players had offered “confronting” feedback to Langer over his coaching style, with white-ball captain Aaron Finch praising the coach for taking it head on.

But the matter threatened to boil over again in August when Finch, Tim Paine and Pat Cummins met with CA’s hierarchy to raise further concerns. 

It prompted Langer to take a much more hands-off approach in the Twenty20 World Cup, which Australia won for the first time.

Beyond that, Langer’s 55.5 per cent win record in Test cricket is second only to John Buchanan among all Australia coaches.

He also led Australia’s first retention of the Ashes in England in 18 years in 2019 before winning the series 4-0 this summer, as well as claiming the World Cup.

Just last month, Australia also returned to the No.1 ranking for Test cricket, marking the second time they had gone back to the top under Langer’s watch.

But the longer the summer went on it became clearer players were not willing to publicly endorse an extension of the coach’s contract beyond its expiry date in June.

Cummins shouldered arms when asked about Langer’s future after Australia wrapped up the Ashes and again refused to endorse him as coach as recently as this week.

“Justin has been an outstanding coach of the Australian men’s team over the past four years,” CA CEO Nick Hockley said in a statement.

“He has restored the trust in the team and his legacy is assured.

“We are extremely proud of his achievements since he took over in 2018, including the recent T20 World Cup victory and Ashes success.

“We are naturally disappointed Justin has decided against continuing as coach but respect his decision and wish him all the best in the future.

“I would like to sincerely thank Justin and also his family for all that they have given to Australian cricket over the past four years, for which we remain eternally grateful.”

Test legends Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden have slammed Cricket Australia (CA) for its handling of Justin Langer’s departure as head coach of the national men’s team, while a tearful Hayden has said the lack of public backing from players in the lead-up to Langer’s resignation would have been “extremely hurtful” for his former teammate.

Ponting labelled Langer’s exit, almost five months before his contract was due to expire, “a really sad day” and said the way CA’s board and executives handled Langer’s exit, as well as that of former Test skipper Tim Paine late last year, had been “almost embarrassing”.

“I think it’s a really sad day as far as Australian cricket is concerned,” Ponting told ABC radio.

“And if you look back, it’s been a really poor six months. I think of the way that Cricket Australia as a whole have handled some of the better people in Australian cricket, Justin Langer and Tim Paine, I think it’s been almost embarrassing with the way they’ve handled those two cases.”

Hayden agreed with Ponting that Cummins would have been in “a difficult position” as captain given reports of widespread dissatisfaction with Langer’s methods amongst players and staff.

“Deep down, Pat might have known that this day was coming,” Ponting told ABC Radio.

“If he had have gone on the front foot and endorsed Justin, they would have been in a position where they wouldn’t have been able to move on from him.

“If it’s not just him, if there are other players that are coming to him and letting him know that maybe they feel that Justin is not the right man, I think that actually puts Pat in a difficult position as well.”

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