Langer to lead 'leaner and sharper' coaching staff
Head coach praises the contribution of Graeme Hick as he flags reductions of touring parties as part of cost-cutting measures at Cricket Australia
18 June 2020, 03:03 PM AEST
The absence of travelling selectors and the use of remote coaching for players has been flagged as part of cost-saving measures for the Australian men's cricket team, with head coach Justin Langer ready to lead a smaller group of support staff on future overseas tours.
But the days of high-profile mentor roles for the likes of Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh may not be over yet, with Langer seeking "creative" ways to keep legends of the game involved for major series.
On Wednesday, Langer said goodbye to long-time batting coach Graeme Hick from his coaching staff, one of 40 redundancies across Cricket Australia as part of the organisation's cost-cutting response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Langer praised the work of Hick as well as recently departed CEO Kevin Roberts, labelling Wednesday "a really tough day".
He added that cuts to second XI and Australia A matches in the short-term provides an opportunity for Premier (club) cricket and state competitions to play more of a leading role in developing the next generation of players.
The national men's team has traditionally had a selector on duty for overseas tours, but Langer indicated that might not happen for all campaigns in the short term as the organisation looks to reduce expenditure.
"If you'd have asked me 12 weeks or 10 weeks ago, I'd have thought it's nice to have a selector around (on tour)," said Langer, who is part of a three-man national selection panel along with Trevor Hohns and George Bailey.
"For the players, it's nice to see some other selectors around at times.
"But look at the way that these technology platforms (have helped) ... I’m sure there's going to be scope for using a lot more of this technology to make these decisions, to talk to the captain, to talk to the senior players and that’ll be a part of it.
"I think there'll be more in-depth conversations to work through actually how this is going to work. So, we're aware of it now and now it's (time) to do our job, to get creative and work out how it's best going to work for the organisation and for the team."
Langer has explained previously how the wide-ranging responsibilities of a head coach has meant coaching his players only took up around 30 per cent of his time, leaving him to put faith in his support staff to fill the void.
But with cost-cutting set to lead to a smaller group of assistants by his side, the former Test opener is ready to get back on the tools, adding he's confident his players will be able to adapt to the staff changes.
"No one could ever criticise me for not wanting to roll my sleeves up and do some work," he said.
"We will certainly have less staff on the road with us, but the guys will still get great support. Whether it's remotely; as we’ve seen over this COVID period, there's a lot of support that can be given and serviced remotely.
"We'll all survive. We'll be a bit leaner and sharper, that's for sure, but we'll survive, we'll adapt, and the players will still get the service required."
A feature of Langer's time as coach has been his recruitment of former teammates, some of the greats of the modern game, as mentors for high-profile tours.
Former Test skippers Ponting and Waugh joined Langer's staff for the World Cup and Ashes campaigns respectively last year, while Mike Hussey has also worked with the T20 side.
Langer remains passionate about surrounding current players with past greats and hopes to continue to do so, despite the cost cutting.
"How we make that happen in the future, we'll do our best to make it happen because it's very, very important," he said.
"The more good people that we can have around the team, the better. We're just going to have to be more creative and we're going to have to work through solutions for how we can make that happen."
Hick was the most high-profile CA employee to lose his job on Wednesday, the Zimbabwe-born coach having been with the organisation since 2013.
Langer said telling Hick of his redundancy on Wednesday "was like facing Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh without a helmet and a box on", such is his admiration for the former England batsman.
"He's a ripping human being, there's no doubt about that," Langer said.
"You won't meet a person of greater integrity than Graeme Hick. His worth ethic is unbelievable, his knowledge of the game is unbelievable, so it was a really tough call.
"It's nothing that he's done, it's more of an impact of the cost cutting that we're doing because of the COVID situation.
"So it was really hard, as it was to see Kevin Roberts go the other day. You build relationships with these guys and the human side of it kicked in yesterday. Not just with Hicky and Kev but the other cuts that happened.
"It was a really tough day."