Cricket Australia has flatly rejected a meeting with Justin Langer turned sour when talks opened over the coach’s future in the role. In an extraordinary move, CA broke its long-held position of refusing to comment on discussions with Langer as they consider whether to extend his tenure.
Langer is off-contract in June and met with CA’s chief executive Nick Hockley and high performance manager Ben Oliver last Friday. Some media reported the meeting became heated when CA suggested to Langer he may have to reapply for his position.
“While we do not comment on confidential conversations, we felt on this occasion it was important to correct the record,” CA said in a statement on Tuesday. “We reject outright the assertion that the meeting was fiery or heated and that Justin was asked to reapply for his job.
“Justin has always been contracted as head coach through to the middle of this year and we have consistently maintained that discussions around the future of the role would commence following the conclusion of the men’s Ashes series.
“Friday’s meeting was the first time that we had the opportunity to meet together in person, reflect on the team’s success and discuss the road ahead. We will continue with this process and make an announcement once it is complete.”
Langer wants to continue as coach after overseeing a 4-0 Ashes win, preceded by Australia’s maiden Twenty20 World Cup title. But his position beyond June remains in doubt, amid reported ongoing unrest among Australia’s players about his coaching style.
Last August, the dressing room ructions became public and Langer has since openly admitted to toning down his renowned intensity.
Langer has given his assistant coaches Andrew McDonald and Michael Di Venuto more control of Australian squads while also affording players a greater input. But some pundits have noted an unwillingness of players, including Test captain Pat Cummins, to publicly express support for Langer being offered a fresh contract.
CA’s board is expected to meet on Friday, where Oliver and Hockley will detail their meeting with Langer.
The West Australian was appointed coach on a four-year deal after Australia’s infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March 2018, replacing Darren Lehmann who quit at the end of that infamous Test series.
Lehmann recently said Langer should walk from the job, believing four years was long enough for any coach to hold the job. But a host of Langer’s former teammates including Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, have called for CA to reappoint Langer, given Australia’s recent successes.
Australia’s next fixtures are a five-match T20 series against Sri Lanka from 11 to 20 February but Langer will not be at the helm, taking a break while McDonald acts as head coach.
The Australians are then scheduled to tour Pakistan in March and play three Tests and three one-dayers.