Any issues between Australia’s coach Justin Langer and his players need to be sorted out in-house as Cricket Australia reviews the performance of the Test team in the gap between now and next summer’s Ashes series against England, according to the acting chief executive Nick Hockley.
Hockley acknowledged reports of discord following the end of the India series and, while not questioning their veracity, insisted that questions around the uncompromising team environment overseen by Langer had to be addressed between the individuals concerned.
Langer, who has described the suggestions of discontent as a “wake-up call” after a draining series defeat to an Indian side led expertly by Ajinkya Rahane, remains upset by the manner in which they emerged, in a significant departure from his belief in face-to-face honesty. However, there is acknowledgement that change and a clearing of the air will be required, albeit now without the forum of an overseas Test tour to South Africa in which to do so. CA’s board meets on Friday for the first time since the series concluded.
“We’re in a high-performance business, a high-performance organisation, we’re continually reviewing. Some of the commentary I’ve seen around JL in the media, it’s a matter for within the team and the squad,” Hockley said. “All I’ll really say is JL’s leadership, his passion, he wears his heart on his sleeve but he’s a great leader. What he’s done for team culture, what he provides to the organisation more broadly, not just on the field but off the field, I think he’s been very, very clear what he stands for. That’s to make the Australians proud of the team.”
While CA is yet to make a determination over who is the next long-term chief executive, Hockley said that attention would turn quickly to how best to prepare the Test team for next summer’s Ashes series, with qualification for the World Test Championship final in mid-year now out of the their hands.
“The team dynamic is something for the team, the captain and coach to work through. We’ll be looking at performance in the round and we’ve got the Ashes coming up. It will come up very, very quickly. That’s going to be a massive focus for us. I spoke to JL last night. He’s extremely disappointed not to be going to South Africa. It’s about now using the time to plan for the next period and start to think and plan about our Ashes campaign, which is hugely, hugely important.
“Justin’s got our full support. We will monitor performance. The last series, as with every series, we’ll look to debrief and see how we can get better.”
One of the seemingly innocuous but now highly significant errors made by the Test team over the period was to be docked vital points due to maintaining a slow over rate during the second Test against India at the MCG. The points lost would have made all the difference in the narrow margin between Australia now in third on the table, and New Zealand in second and guaranteed to make the WTC final regardless of the result of the imminent Test series between India and England.
“I haven’t discussed it specifically. None of us could have foreseen how this was going to transpire,” Hockley said. “The fines and rules around the ICC around slow over rates are there for a reason. It could be a costly and a timely reminder. We all need to know the rules going in. We couldn’t have foreseen this change but the fact we’re not able to compete for a place in the final in South Africa and make it our own destiny adds to the disappointment of not being able to tour.”
It is not yet clear how many members of the squad for the postponed South Africa tour will now make themselves available for the Sheffield Shield rounds set to commence later this month following the end of the BBL, with numerous players likely to require some degree of rest or medical attention rather than hanging on until the end of the Tests meant to have been played on the other side of the Indian Ocean.