'Coach Grumpy': Langer's leadership under spotlight
Sydney (AFP) –
Australia cricket coach Justin Langer was under mounting pressure Wednesday over his management style, sparking uncertainty around his position heading into the Twenty20 World Cup and an Ashes series.
Langer was forced to address negative feedback earlier this year when discontent surfaced about his "headmaster-like" leadership and shifting moods.
He took the criticism on board and admitted he had been "grumpy and intense" most of his life.
Langer faced controversy again last week after reports of a heated argument with a Cricket Australia journalist after a poor white-ball tour of the West Indies and Bangladesh.
The confrontation is said to have taken place in the team hotel, with players and staff watching.
Langer's friend and former teammate Adam Gilchrist said growing speculation around his position could "derail the summer", and urged Cricket Australia to stamp out leaks to the media.
"Justin is very aware of these perceived issues with his management style, and he's going to keep trying to work with that, and I'm sure the players will try to work alongside that as well," Gilchrist said this week.
"But the bigger issue, and it will derail the summer if it doesn't get sorted out, is the fact these journalists have a direct line of contact with people within the inner sanctum there, and the people in that inner sanctum are happy to let it get out.
"So Cricket Australia needs to try to address this very quickly.
"If everyone believes the best thing to do is move on from Justin Langer as a coach, do it sooner rather than later because it is just going to create a side issue, which is going to continue to be a circus," he added.
Cricket Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- 'Hair trigger' -
Langer was hired in the wake of the notorious "Sandpaper-gate" ball-tampering tour of South Africa in 2019, which led to then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner being suspended for a year.
The coach was tasked with rebuilding the culture of Australian cricket and was widely praised for doing so, but there have been rumours of dressing-room friction.
Malcolm Conn, who was media manager for the Australian team during their 2019 Ashes tour of England, said he respected Langer but quickly learned to stay out of his way.
"You were never certain whether your question was going to be met with an answer or an explosion," he wrote in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.
Conn detailed players walking on eggshells around Langer and his "sudden obsession with things that...didn't seem to matter".
"Like many of these minor incidents, Langer's latest blow-up at a Cricket Australia digital journalist during the recent tour of Bangladesh is nothing in isolation, but contributes to a pattern of erratic behaviour," he added.
Peter Lalor, chief cricket writer for The Australian broadsheet, said Langer doesn't deserve to have his reputation tarnished over a relatively minor incident.
"But the attention the event gained and the uncertainty it has caused suggests things are on something of a hair trigger," he added.
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