Justin Langer, the Australian coach, has laid down the law over his team’s expected behaviour as a new era begins for Australia in the aftermath of the ball-tampering fiasco. The former Test opener has taken over from Darren Lehmann and will embark on his first assignment during Australia’s limited-overs tour of the UK next month. The uncompromising Langer has used a pre-camp tour in Brisbane to address players and draw a line in the sand over player behaviour.
“I just addressed all the players and coaches. The main message is … just the way we go about our business on and off the field, the behaviours that are expected,” Langer said on Saturday (May 26). “If we get it clear from day one, it makes things a lot easier. We have to aim to be No.1 in professionalism, No.1 in honesty, No.1 in humility.
“It doesn’t matter how much money, how many games, how many runs you made, if you are not a good bloke that is what people remember,” he added.
Australia, the No.5 ranked ODI team, faces a tough challenge to rebound from the scandal without their former leaders Steve Smith and David Warner, who were suspended for 12 months for their roles in the saga. Against their traditional foe, Australia is bracing for a hostile reception from the English fans. “I am expecting to cop plenty from the crowds and the media but that’s England,” Langer said with a laugh. “Even when you are winning all the time and are squeaky clean, you still cop it. We will cop it just as much as usual. But that’s ok.
“It will be a good learning experience for our young blokes and our experienced guys will help navigate that landscape,” he added.
Langer, whose famed resilience fuelled him to 105 Tests from 1993-2007, urged his team to persist through the expected barbs. “I think it has got to become white noise,” he said. “Usually when you are batting, it is like silence because you are concentrating on the ball. That’s probably what we need to do – concentrate, then it should become white noise.”
After such a damaging scandal, Langer admitted Australia had much work to do to restore the public’s faith. Cricket Australia is currently amid an independent review launched after the ball-tampering saga, which is examining the organisation’s “culture, processes and governance”. A separate “player and former player driven process” is also being undertaken to look at the Australian team’s behavioural standards.
“It won’t take one tour or one year (to win back Australian public’s trust),” Langer said. “It will take one behaviour, a thousand, a million behaviours to win back respect. If we behave well on and off the field then hopefully we will earn some respect, some trust back. The Australian public obviously loves the team but it takes more than just being good cricketers,” he added.
With the World Cup just over 12 months away, the five-match ODI series against England is seen as an ideal preparation for the reigning champions. However, Australia’s 50-over form has been patchy for some time culminating in a 4-1 thrashing at home to England in January.
“To me it is really clear. You need good athletes. You have to be able to field well and be really fit to run hard between the wickets,” Langer said. “We have to take responsibility with the bat. We have probably got away from that the past year or so. Our ranking would suggest that.”
Langer said he had been impressed with skipper Tim Paine, who has been named the interim ODI captain. “He is a good guy. I have never had much to do with him professionally,” he said. “What I like about Painey is he has been through some really tough times with his broken finger. He was talked about as an Australian captain at 22 then went through some really tough times and it is always good to see players come back better.”
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