'I don't like it at all': Langer opposed to schedule clash
Head coach fears for the second half of the Marsh Sheffield Shield season if two Australian sides are abroad at the same time
14 October 2020, 12:52 PM AEST
Head coach Justin Langer says he's opposed to the prospect of Australia playing separate Test and T20 series at the same time early next year and fears it will damage the second half of the Marsh Sheffield Shield season.
Australia are scheduled to play five T20s in New Zealand from February 22 to March 7, a series that looks set to clash with a proposed Test tour of South Africa as per the International Cricket Council's Future Tour Programme.
With cricketing nations around the globe suffering financially due the coronavirus pandemic, Langer says he understands how important international tours are, a point that was emphasised by the thanks he and his side received following their series in the UK earlier this year.
And he's conceded the international game is facing more complications than ever due to the health crisis.
But having informed Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings and interim CEO Nick Hockley of his opposition to having two Australian sides playing at the same time in different parts of the world, he says he doesn’t want it to happen again.
"The chairman knows this, the CEO knows this really clearly - my personal opinion is I don’t like it at all," Langer told SEN.
"I don't ever want to have two Australian teams in one place. That's my personal opinion. In this year, with what's happening with COVID, I understand there's complexities to it.
"We're one country, aren't we? We're not two countries. And we're one sport."
Should the men's teams' matches in NZ and South Africa coincide, it would not be the first time an international schedule log-jam has forced Australia to field teams in overlapping series.
In 2017, Australia's three-match T20 campaign against Sri Lanka – which Langer stepped in as coach for – coincided with the arrival of the men's Test team in India, which meant selectors named two separate squads.
A year later, Australia's T20 team was in New Zealand for the final matches of their tri-series against the Black Caps and England while the Test team was playing a warm-up match in South Africa.
And at the start of the 2014-15 summer, Australia played a home T20 against South Africa two days after their Test series against Pakistan wrapped up in the UAE.
England also fielded separate Test and white-ball sides during their home season this year, with their three-match ODI series against Ireland in Southampton finishing the night before a Test against Pakistan in Manchester.
While the tour of South Africa has yet to be confirmed, Hockley believes it's important that the Australian side does its bit to help keep the game moving around the world.
"Sport around the globe has been heavily impacted by the COVID19 pandemic and it is incumbent upon all of us to play our part in helping international cricket back to a healthy position," Hockley said in a statement late last month.
"Hosting this series is of vital importance to NZC and we stand ready to assist them, as we did the ECB with the recent white ball series in England.
"Every board will have to make compromises and sacrifices to help the international game recover from the impacts of COVID19 and we are happy to do our bit.
"This is a unique set of circumstances brought on by the pandemic and is not something we envisage replicating regularly in future."
Chief among Langer's concerns is the impact the two concurrent tours will have on domestic cricket, with more than 30 of the country's best cricketers likely to be unavailable for a large part of the second half of the Shield season.
The Shield competition, which began this week without 14 state-contracted players who are playing in the Indian Premier League, is yet to have a final schedule determined for matches following this season's KFC BBL.
"If you have two Australian cricket teams in this current COVID period … let's say we’ve got to take 18 players to New Zealand, we've got to take 18 players to South Africa, that's 36 players out of the backend of the Sheffield Shield competition," he said. "And that's before any injuries that will inevitably happen every year.
"So you're taking all your best players out of the back half of the Shield competition, which we've always said is the best domestic competition in the world. They're the sort of things that worry me with this.
"But this is a really strange season; we're seeing it with AFL, we're seeing it with NRL, but I certainly would never like to see it be a permanent fixture."