Veteran cricket journalist Robert Craddock says Justin Langer needs to relax a bit after allegations players were becoming fed up with the Australia coach’s hard-line attitude.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the weekend dressing room sources indicated Langer’s intensity and overbearing management style were wearing thin with some stars as a tense series defeat against India at home capped off a draining 2020.
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Craddock believes Langer needs to adjust because the traits that made him so successful as a top order batsman across his 105 Tests don’t necessarily translate into coaching.
“Justin just has to work on being more soothing,” Craddock said on SEN Breakfast. “Intensity drove him to be the cricketer that he was, but that was something he could harness within himself.
“When that’s transferred onto others in a dressing room, at times it can be quite awkward.
“He was raised in a hard era, an abrasive era. It’s a much more sensitive world (these days), but he has to adapt, because it’s much easier for him to adapt to the team than the team to adapt to him.”
During a lengthy tour of the UK in 2019, Langer had good mate Ricky Ponting to turn to as an assistant during the World Cup, and former captain Steve Waugh was embedded within the squad as a mentor during the Ashes.
Amid reports players are seeking counsel from assistant Andrew McDonald more so than Langer, Craddock suggested the coach could benefit from a similar arrangement to what was implemented in 2019.
“In England, when the team was winning he had Stephen Waugh there with him, and Ricky Ponting,” Craddock said.
“I think that would have alleviated the stress factor, giving players someone else to go to, and giving Justin someone to go to himself.”
However, Langer rejected suggestions his relationship with the players is on shaky ground, telling Nine newspapers on the weekend it “couldn’t be further from the truth”.
“If players just want someone to tickle their stomachs all the time then I’m not doing my job,” he said.
Langer was a central figure in fly-on-the-wall documentary The Test, which premiered on Amazon last year, and his intensity was on full display during robust discussions with senior player Usman Khawaja.
Khawaja confronted the coach after a net session in the UAE, arguing Langer’s instructions and rules were too stifling, prompting the 50-year-old to hit back and say the batsmen could run their own batting drills when they stopped collapsing all the time.
Khawaja also told Langer players were “walking on eggshells” because they were intimidated by him.