It’s not a nursery! Former greats say Langer should be retained as coach, criticize player discontent

Former greats Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Michael Vaughan have urged Cricket Australia to retain manager Justin Langer, despite rumors that he could walk out the door following the much-publicized feud with the players.

Reports of player discontent with Langer’s coaching style have dominated discussion for the past 12 months; however, the trio have blamed both the players’ attitude for the dispute and the coach’s own faults.

Speaking at Fox Cricket’s the great opportunityFormer England captain Vaughan was particularly scathing.

“I’ll be totally honest with you: I think there’s too much player power across the board,” he said.

“I hear it too often in the English game in the counties, in the national teams, I hear it in the franchise system that all the players don’t like the manager because it’s not a friendlier environment and it’s not nice.

“Top-level sport is about winning. I always believed as an athlete, sometimes, and not in all characters, but there are many characters in professional sports that need to be on the edge. That advantage is created by the captain, the coach, sometimes the environment, and it leads to better performance.

“All this very well, very well, it’s not a nursery!”

Vaughan compared Langer to legendary Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson’s famously tough style of coaching, saying “being in eggshells” is an important way of ensuring players get as much as they can from themselves.

“He [Alex Ferguson] he believes that in order to play at the highest level, it’s important that you have that motivation, and sometimes that motivation comes from being on eggshells within the group,” Vaughan said.

“That means that you come to every training session, you have a point to prove. If you don’t have that point to prove, you can sometimes become complacent.

“I’ve never been in a dressing room with Justin Langer, so I can’t ultimately say, but from the outside, it seems to me that it creates an atmosphere where you could be on eggshells, and you might have a point to prove.

“He’s probably not going to smoke your butt every day, but is that a bad thing?”

Warne, regularly seen as one of the best captains Australian cricket ever had, agreed, noting that Langer’s recent successes during the Ashes and the T20 World Cup deserve a new deal.

“How do you judge a coach? That is the hardest; How would you judge the performance of a manager to say that he has improved the players, that he has helped Australian cricket? I think Justin Langer understands all of that,” Warne said.

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

“He just won an Ashes series, he just won a T20 World Cup. If the players don’t like it or don’t want it there, I thought that was the conversation that had been had.

“It seems to me that Australia has changed it a little bit, the cricket they played here, the cricket they played in the T20 World Cup. For me, I don’t know what everyone is waiting for, in my opinion, I should sign. You’ve done a good job.

“On the other side of the coin, trainers also have a shelf life because they can only inject so much. He has been there for four years.

“For me, I don’t know what they’re waiting for.”

Vaughan also noted that Langer’s demeanor had changed markedly from his famously prickly attitude in years past, saying the circumstances of his arrival at the helm, in the wake of Australia’s infamous ball-tampering scandal in early 2018, required a harder approach.

“He has evolved into a different style of coach. You can see it clearly,” Vaughan said.

“He was smiling, we didn’t see him smile a couple of years ago. When he took office, the Australian cricket couldn’t smile.

“Just look at the moment when he took office, after ‘Sandpapergate’ in Cape Town, and all of a sudden he had to bring a method, he had to bring a way, he had to create a culture.

“He’s created that, and sometimes when you’re doing that, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. You could piss off an odd one or two.

“If some of the players don’t like you, I think that’s fine. You’re not there to make friends,” Warne added.

Warne also claimed that if Australia parted ways with Langer, England would be very keen to ‘get him’, a claim Vaughan was quick to back.

“I would certainly be trying to get Justin Langer on the phone to potentially have him as a consultant if the opportunity presented itself in English cricket,” he said.

Though less forceful in his opinion than Warne and Vaughan, Gilchrist also praised his former State Test and Western Australia teammate Langer; saying that the ‘honest feedback’ he has received from players has paid off.

“I think he met all the requirements that were put on him, what he was brought in for,” Gilchrist said.

“He appears to be showing signs of wanting to change and evolve with the honest feedback he was finally able to solicit through the players rather than through the media.”

Langer’s predecessor as manager, Darren Lehmann, has urged the 51-year-old to leave of his own free will when his contract expires at the end of the upcoming tour to Pakistan, saying he will “exhaust himself” if it goes on too long.

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