Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Langer regroups after 'relentless' coaching run
West Australian happy to be home and recharging the batteries as he prepares for another gruelling home summer in the top job
15 October 2019, 11:50 AM AEST
It is the little things Justin Langer appreciates when he has been away for four months. They're the things he knows he sometimes takes for granted but they're also what is presently helping him find the reserves of energy to recharge and do it all again.
After an initial 18 months in the national head coaching job that has encompassed, among other things, the fall-out from the ball-tampering scandal, a home Test series against India, a World Cup and an away Ashes campaign, Langer is enjoying a brief respite back in Perth, where he is taking the time to breathe again. And he is realising that the tide is turning when it comes to sentiment towards the Australian cricket team.
"For me to be home in WA and be in my own bed, walk the dog every morning, be in my garden every morning, have a game of golf with my dad, have home-cooked dinner every night – these things are so simple but they give me so much energy," Langer told ABC Grandstand.
"The whole Ashes, as with the World Cup, was just pressure the whole time. That's the hardest part of the job actually – the relentless nature. Whether you win a game or you lose a game, you've still got to wake up the next day as one of the leaders and you've got to keep making decisions – selection decisions, what are we going to do for training, how do we prepare the boys to lift them or keep them level, what am I going to say to the media, what am I going to say to the players – the relentless periods are very tiring, and that's why these short periods of time to rejuvenate are so important.
"The other thing that gives me energy is that I come home to Australia and, I know we lost the last Test match, but there's a really strong sentiment that people are proud of what the Australian cricket team is doing again.
"People saying 'Congratulations on retaining the Ashes', and 'We knew the World Cup was a great campaign'. People seem to be really proud of the team again. There seems to be a positive sentiment, and that also gives me energy, that all the work we're doing – the players, staff, everyone at Cricket Australia – is turning back the positive feelings about the Australian cricket team."
Langer has in the past made no secret of his surprise at both the overwhelmingly taxing nature of the job as well as the media scrutiny and subsequent pressure that comes with it.
He believes a division of his role (a different head coach for each format, for example) could in fact create more problems than it solves, and so he seeks other means of retaining his sanity through those relentless periods he describes; speaking with family twice a day on FaceTime is one such survival tool he relies on.
He also knows it is not getting any easier. Australia will be expected to win home Test series against Pakistan and New Zealand this summer but selectors have also made it clear that there will be a heavy focus on the T20 format across the next 12 months in the build-up to the ICC T20 World Cup, which will be held in Australia next October.
It is a tournament Australia has never won, and given it will be played in their backyard, it will be the most prominent the format has ever been internationally within this country. Langer knows that will inevitably carry with it expectation.
"One of my lifelong ambitions was to meet Sir Alex Ferguson, the great Manchester United coach," Langer added. "I had lunch with him in England and it was brilliant, I loved it. One of the things he said was you've always got to have a short-term view, but you've always got to have a long-term view.
"I know having spoken to a number of people in the England camp, they took a four-year view to winning the World Cup. They built up to being the best team for four years and then it's amazing how everything went their way – they deserved to win it, as it turned out.
"I think we have to do that. We've got to take not only short-term views of selection but also a little bit longer term. We've got two Twenty20 World Cups coming up in the next two years – one here in Australia, one in India. They're different environments to play in but I think the more we can get a white-ball core of players, and back them in and get them to work together and understand each other, and build a team and a squad around that … we started doing it at Christmas time but it was probably just a bit short (before the World Cup)."
In the meantime, Langer is savouring his last weeks of downtime before he packs up and goes again.
"Being with family and knowing I've got their support rejuvenates me," he added. "At the moment, it's working OK."