• Langer confronts concern over ‘headmaster-like’ leadership

    Australia coach Justin Langer has taken on board negative feedback of his leadership style, confronting the issues head-on at a team meeting ahead of their West Indies tour, skipper Aaron Finch said on Thursday.

    Langer came under the microscope after Australia’s 2-1 Test series defeat by India in January, when reports surfaced about discontent over his ‘headmaster-like’ style of leadership and shifting moods.

    Finch said Langer, who is taking charge in the West Indies for the first time since then, raised the issue at a recent pre-departure meeting.

    “The ability of JL [Langer] to address some issues that came up … that was brilliant for him to tackle them head-on and I suppose put his side of the story, put his spin on it,” Finch said via Zoom from St Lucia.

    “It showed the quality of the man he is, the things that he’s working on.

    “We’re all behind him 100%,” he added. “The way he’s coached Australia in the last couple of years has been fantastic, we’ve had some really good success as well.

    “No doubt it was quite confronting for him at the time [when the discontent surfaced], but it was very positive from our point of view.”

    Langer in February admitted he had been “grumpy and intense since I was 16 years old”, but that hearing criticism of him through the media was hard to take.

    “That’s the killer. I’ve talked for years about honest conversations and the worst part about it all for me was it came out two weeks after the Test match,” he said.

    Finch suggested the high-pressure situation last summer and the taxing nature of the bio-secure bubbles contributed to Langer’s tension.

    “There was a combination of a few things,” he said. “On the back of a lot of bubbles as well, he could have used his assistants a little bit better and delegated a bit more.

    “But there was nothing groundbreaking – there’s stuff that every player and every coach would reflect on themself. He’s no different.

    “He’s done a fantastic job. The way he confronted that and the way it was received by the players was outstanding.”

    Australia arrived in the West Indies this week for five T20Is in St Lucia from 10 July, followed by three one-dayers in Barbados.

    They are missing some of their top names, including David Warner, Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell, who all opted out with fatigue after spending considerable time in bio-secure bubbles over the past few months.

    Steve Smith is also absent as he struggles with an elbow injury.

    © Agence France-Presse

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    Craig Lewis