Character over cover drives as Langer takes charge
For much of his playing career, Justin Langer was the foundation rock upon which Australia erected towering piles of runs during a golden era of success.
Eleven years on from the last of his 105 tests, Langer returns to the national fold at one of its lowest ebbs in history, tasked with rebuilding a team from the ruins of disgrace.
Yesterday he was named head coach, filling a void after Darren Lehmann’s resignation in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal at Cape Town that stunned the cricket world and trashed the team’s reputation.
Both Langer and Lehmann shared dressing rooms in Steve Waugh’s Australia, a feared and brilliant team that made no apologies for crushing rivals with aggression and intimidation.
Much about their appointments share similar circumstances.
Lehmann was recruited amid another crisis of culture five years ago, and weeks after David Warner punched England’s Joe Root during a boozy night out in Birmingham. He was unable to select Warner for the first 2 tests of the 2013 Ashes as the opener served a ban for the incident.
Langer will be without Warner for a year, the disgraced opener suspended along with former captain Steve Smith and batsman Cameron Bancroft for their part in the tampering.
Langer, who retired as one of Australia’s greatest opening batsmen in 2007, will have little trouble commanding the respect of the dressing room.
“Character over cover drives” has been the mantra of the 47-year-old Catholic and father of 4, who would mark a cross at the crease when he went out to bat.
Redemption will also be offered for the fallen, and he was unequivocal about Smith, Warner and Bancroft’s right to regain their places in the side once they served their penance.