Thu. May 26th, 2022

One of Allan Border’s regrets as captain was to hand over power to Australia’s first mentor, Bob Simpson, a good coach but a difficult man who, after gaining control, was unwilling to give it back.

When Mark Taylor took over from Border in 1994, he made it clear from the start who was in charge, to Simpson’s regret.

Likewise with Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting or Clarke or Steve Smith it was their team.

That all changed when Langer took over under difficult circumstances during 2018 following the Sandpapergate meltdown in South Africa.

One of Australian cricket’s best players and statesmen, Langer was accused of helping rebuild confidence in Australian cricket and did a good job. Publicly, he became the game’s soothing father figure.

But Ferguson inadvertently highlighted Langer’s biggest problem. He tried to be the football coach of the national cricket team.

Australia has never had such a strong coach before. He is a board member of the West Coast Eagles and a confidant of their coach, Adam Simpson.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.Credit:AP

His circle of significant football friends includes former Adelaide Crows coach Don Pyke, who was the losing coach in the 2017 AFL Finals.

Langer used Pike’s failure in this year’s biggest AFL game to get players to relive their Headingley horror show in 2019, after a miraculous performance from Ben Stokes stole the third Test and ultimately a league win from Australia.


“I will never forget talking to Don Pyke after the Crows lost the grand finale to Richmond. He said one of the mistakes they made was that they did not address it right away, they let it go. get stuck and well into the pre-season, ”Langer said later on Adelaide radio.

“The next morning we all got up, we saw the entrances together and it was not for criticism, just so we could learn. Then we went down to Derbyshire together and we played really good cricket in a three-day match and then we won the fourth test… ”

That was not the perception of the players. Flattened by Stokes, who snatched the match with a brilliant century as everything seemed to be lost to England, it did not seem like the perfect antidote to be flattened again by the coach.

For two years, Langer justified the disguise by saying they won the next test, but when Australia regained the ashes after the Boxing Day test, he could not bring himself to say so.

Asked if he would do it again, Langer was strangely hesitant and turned around without being sure before offering a meek “probably”.

This was the new Langer after the mutiny, which managed the majority of the team leaders in August last year, as they and their teammates and support staff had been worn out by his intense micro-management and lack of support from Cricket Australia.

Soccer players go home after training or matches and get away from it all. Cricketers and their support staff travel together for weeks and months, living in each other’s pockets.

It’s an unnatural existence that requires more hugs than hammer blows, something Langer learned too late in his four-year tenure.

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