Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has slammed Cricket Australia’s handling of Justin Langer’s departure as head coach, while ex-opener Matthew Hayden has criticised the lack of support Langer received in the later stages of his time in the role.
Langer resigned as coach of Australia on Saturday after rejecting a short-term extension to his contraction, just weeks after following victory in the Twenty20 World Cup by claiming a 4-0 series victory over England.
The 51-year-old was reported to have reacted angrily over being asked to reapply for the role, with Cricket Australia forced to deny a “heated meeting” last week, while Ponting believes more could have been done to keep Langer in charge of the Australian side.
“I actually think that’s a really sad day as far as Australian cricket is concerned,” Pointing told ABC Radio. “It has been a really poor six months for the way that Cricket Australia as a whole have handled some of the better people in Australian cricket, being Justin Langer and Tim Paine. I think it’s almost been embarrassing the way they’ve handled those two cases.”
Ponting added: “On the back of what’s been the best coaching period of his international career, having just won the T20 World Cup and then the 4-0 result in the Ashes, it seems like a very strange time for a coach to be departing.
“Reading the tea leaves, it sounds like a few, as he would say to me, a very small group of the playing group and a couple of other staff around the team haven’t entirely loved the way he’s gone about it.
“That’s forced out a man that’s put his life, heart and soul into Australian cricket, and done what I believe is a sensational job in turning around the culture and the way the Australian cricket team has been looked at over the last three or four years. That’s been enough to push him out of his dream job.”
‘Writing was on the wall for Langer’
Langer has held his position since being appointed in 2018, following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, with Hayden disappointed by the treatment of his former Australian teammate.
“If he [Langer] was waiting for the current Australian cricket team to be presenting a face of care, I dare say they won’t be and that’s, to me, the real sadness around this,” an emotional Hayden told ABC Sport. “It was absolutely clear that no one backed him.
“This was not a healthy process. This was a bloke (Langer) that won the Ashes, stayed back basically in Melbourne for the entire time while this dragged on for a month. On the back of his hall of fame announcement, the whole thing just reeks of being orchestrated from basically the moment all of this garbage started coming out in the middle of last year.
“You could see that the writing was on the wall. If I had a bet back then whether Justin Langer would have retained his spot at the end of his contract, I would have put my whole life’s savings on him not doing it.”
Why was Langer not offered a longer deal?
Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said Langer turned down the chance to defend the Twenty20 World Cup title on home soil later this year, before admitting that “there were issues” amongst some of the senior players about his coaching style.
“Following the Ashes, we did a thorough evaluation of the team’s needs going forward,” Hockley said. “We recognise that the team has evolved and the requirements and the needs of the head coach have also evolved.
“These decisions are never easy, and I understand, especially given how admired and respect Justin (Langer) is as an absolute legend of the game, the many people will be disappointed by the decision to offer to only offer Justin a short-term contract. They’ll also be disappointed by this outcome.
“The decision to start a process of transition is what we believe is in the best interest of the men’s team to unity and future success.”