Test skipper Tim Paine has backed Justin Langer to continue after some “tough and robust conversations” with Cricket Australia and is now calling on his teammates to rally around the under-pressure coach.
Player unease and public debate about Langer prompted a meeting between Paine, limited-overs captain Aaron Finch, vice-captain Pat Cummins plus CA heavyweights Earl Eddings and Nick Hockley.
Paine, speaking two days after CA chief executive Hockley indicated Langer would be in charge for the Twenty20 World Cup and Ashes, argued it was “important” Australian cricket’s most influential figures discussed the matter.
“Then got around him [Langer], supported him and looked to move forward,” Paine told SEN. “We’re really looking forward to the next six months with JL. No doubt the week has been difficult for him.
“We’ve been able to galvanise around him and have some really robust discussions on where we want to take this cricket team, what we expect of him and what he expects of us.
“We want to be the best team in the world and to do that we need to have some tough and robust conversations. We’ve certainly done that as a senior group in the last 24-48 hours.”
Langer is contracted to mid-2022, meaning speculation about his position will continue to bubble until CA either offer a new deal or part ways.
“It’s just been a bit of shame I think in the last week that a lot of the failings around Australian cricket have been pinned on JL, that’s certainly not the case,” Paine said.
Langer’s intensity, and its capacity to rub players the wrong way, has been magnified over the past year by biosecurity bubbles and the knock-on effect of touring parties living in each other’s pockets.
The former Test opener said in July he felt like “Superman” after a camp on the Gold Coast, where he attempted to clear the air with disgruntled players after responding to feedback in an external review. But ensuing leaks suggest not everyone is on the same page yet.
Paine, Finch and Cummins will soon debrief with teammates, most of whom are either in hotel quarantine in Adelaide or locked down in Sydney, as they seek to shift focus to on-field matters.
“The next few days, no doubt given what has gone on, we’ll look to get the group together,” Paine said. “Be really clear on what we expect of each other, make sure everyone is onboard for the journey, whether that’s in small groups on a Zoom call – it’s obviously impossible to get face to face at the moment.”