Bitter reality facing under-fire Aussie coach

1 month ago 8
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National coach Justin Langer faces a "very hard" task to regain the support of the Australian players, according to former captain Ian Chappell.

Langer's position has been the subject of much speculation, firstly in the face of a poor run of results and secondly over increasing tension between the coach and the players.

His management style, often described as intense, has worn players down since he took over in 2018.

A Cricket Australia review, headed up leadership consultant Tim Ford in the wake of last summer's loss to India, again put the heat on Langer to change his ways.

Early indications are that he hasn't done so, after he became involved in a confrontation with a CA staff member during the recent tour of Bangladesh.

Australian captain Tim Paine (left) and coach Justin Langer. (AAP)

The Sydney Morning Herald's Malcolm Conn, who worked with Langer during 2019, has lifted the lid on just how difficult it is to deal with the former Australian opener.

"You were never certain whether your question was going to be met with an answer or an explosion," Conn wrote.

Langer is contracted until the middle of 2022 but Chappell says things need to be resolved ahead of this summer's Ashes defence.

"Tim Paine is the only one who can sort it out before the Ashes," he told Wide World of Sports.

"He's the one who's got to call a meeting, acknowledge there's a problem and sort it out. Throw the meeting open, everyone says what they want to say, and you've got to convince them that whatever is said won't be held against them, and it has to stay in-house.

"Tim calling a meeting is the only way to resolve it but he's probably left it a bit late to take charge."

Australian coach Justin Langer (Getty)

Chappell dismissed the idea of any involvement from Cricket Australia powerbrokers, whether that be chief executive Nick Hockley or Langer's immediate boss, head of national teams Ben Oliver.

"Knowing Cricket Australia, they'll do nothing because I'm not sure they'd understand there's a problem and if they did understand it, they wouldn't know how to fix it," Chappell said.

"It's down to Langer and the team to resolve the issue. If he wants to keep the job, it has to be sorted out.

"The only way forward I can see is to stick a cartoon of beer in the middle of the room, ask what the problems are, and air all the issues and get it sorted."

Chappell noted that Langer may find it impossible to repair the relationships with the current playing group, pointing out that reviews, such as that conducted earlier this year, are a waste of time.

Justin Langer (AAP)

"The problem you've got is once you've alienated players in that environment, there's not a lot you can do to regain their support and respect," he said.

"It's going to be very hard for Langer to retrieve the situation from here. But Cricket Australia doesn't understand, they just have a review to see what the problem is.

"Well, instead of another review, sort the f---ing thing out. The problem lies between the players and the coach, get them to sort it out, not some review. That's the only way to resolve it.

"Having some outsider come in and list the problems and the answers, that's never going to work."

Australia is currently ranked third in Test cricket, albeit a significant distance behind New Zealand and India. The team has lost five consecutive T20 series, although circumstances have conspired to prevent the best 11 taking the field on a regular basis.

Justin Langer after a run-in with ICC match referee, and former teammate, David Boon. (Fox Cricket)

"The results just prove that it doesn't matter who the coach is, it matters who the players are. They're the ones who will win or lose you the game," Chappell explained.

"Sacking coaches and changing staff isn't going to help until you've got the right cricketers on the field."

Chappell pointed out that the relationship between Australian captain and coach was handled best by Mark Taylor in the 1990s, who immediately stamped his own authority on the team when he took over from Allan Border, downgrading the role of then-coach Bob Simpson.

Chappell said there should be little need for a coach at international level, pointing out that he found his teammates were often best placed to help out with any issues with his game.

Australian cricket legend Ian Chappell. (Cricket Australia via Getty Imag)

"The current players are growing up in an atmosphere where they've got coaches all the time, they get into the habit of relying on them. When something goes wrong, the first thing they do is ask the coach what he thinks," he said.

"When you get to that level, not much should be going wrong. Your technique doesn't suddenly break down, unless it's a s--thouse technique to start with, in which case you shouldn't get that far.

"The only things that go badly wrong are in your head."

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