Is Justin Langer the next coach of Australia?
Date: January 30, 2015 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
Justin Langer, a former Test teammate of Lehmann, continues to carve out a successful coaching career at domestic level.
In time, he may well be the next national team mentor.
He added to his coaching CV last night when he guided the Perth Scorchers to consecutive BBL titles with a thrilling last ball win over the Sydney Sixers in Canberra.
The Scorchers have played in each of the four BBL finals and last night’s victory saw them become the fledgling competition’s first multiple winners.
Langer’s appointment in November 2012 came at a time when the traditionally strong WA cricket side was very much an also ran.
It had reached the inaugural BBL final the season before but in the more traditional domestic formats it had been way off the pace for quite some time.
Under Langer’s stewardship the fortunes have turned around dramatically.
The Scorchers maiden BBL title last season provided WA cricket with its first silverware since it won the domestic one-day competition in 2003-04.
The Warriors reached the final of the Sheffield Shield last season, its first appearance in the decider since its last win in 1998-99.
At the start of this season the Warriors won the Matador Cup one-day competition and they currently sit second on the Shield table with hostilities to resume next week.
In a short space of time Langer has turned WA cricket around.
When he came to the job he laid out his ‘game plan’ pretty succinctly.
There were, he said, three rules: “Keep things simple; use common sense; and no mobile phones at training”.
Additionally, he stated that there were five pillars that he wished to build future success upon: “Speak honestly with each other; celebrate success; respect the past; earn back respect; and hard work”.
It is not difficult when you look at his own playing career to see how he arrived at most of his coaching pillars.
Langer was renowned for his hard work, in fact, he thrived on it.
Few players ever dedicated themselves to training as much as Langer, whether that be batting endlessly in the nets or honing his physical and mental fitness through arduous gym, boxing and running sessions … and of course there is his often talked about martial arts black belt.
When it comes to earning respect, it is something that Langer seemed to have to do most times he walked out into the middle whilst representing Australia.
In the end he played 105 Tests – his 7696 runs still has him seventh on the all-time list of Australian run scorers – yet he seemed to have a perennial problem in winning over the naysayers.
For a large part of his career he was portrayed as being an innings or two away from being dropped.
It was always a matter of silencing the critics and winning respect and more often than not, when most needed, he reeled off a career-saving or match winning knock.
Langer truly loved the team environment and was regarded by two of his skippers – Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting – as the quintessential team man.
It was Ponting, when he became captain, who bestowed upon him the honour of leading the team song after each Test victory.
And when it comes to the history of the game, Langer is a student and very cognisant of the past.
One of his key initiatives since taking over the coaching role with the Warriors is bringing back some of the outstanding players who helped the state dominate the national scene in the 1970s and ‘80s and getting them involved with mentoring the youngsters.
If you speak to any of the current crop of WA players you will hear them speak in almost reverential terms about their coach.
Given what he went through to reach, and then stay, at the top he is a hard man to say no to.
One of his strengths is his ability to empathise with players who are going through a lean trot or fear that they have been consigned to the scrap heap.
Langer has been there and found a way through it and has plenty of advice on how to do it.
In the end the thing that made Langer a successful player was his bloody-minded self-belief.
He did not possess the grace and natural ability of a Mark Waugh or Damien Martyn, nor the power and hitting ability of Adam Gilchrist or his great mate Matthew Hayden.
But what he did possess was an incredible inner drive that manifested itself through incessant hard work.
In short, Justin Langer made himself into a highly successful Test cricketer through pure perspiration and the ability to defy his myriad critics.
In the end he achieved more with the bat than most could dream of.
Indeed, when he retired from first-class cricket no Australian batsman had scored more first-class runs (28,382) and the only Australian to surpass his 86 first-class centuries was a bloke named Don Bradman (117).
Langer got the very best out of himself.
Currently he is doing the same with his West Australian side.
Down the track he may well be reaping the same rewards with the national team.
First published on The Roar – the roar.com.au – on 29 January 2015