In January, Justin Langer, the Australia men’s cricket team coach, said the timing of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 was to be blamed for the growing injury list during India’s tour Down Under. However, with another IPL season looming, Langer has stressed that he is “comfortable” with Australians playing the tournament this time and trusts them to ensure their long-term fitness keeping in mind the Twenty20 World Cup and the 2021-2022 Ashes.
Q. How’s the road ahead of the World T20 looking for Australia? Do you feel the core of the squad is more or less in place?
A. We are well placed in what will be a really strong tournament. With so many younger players putting up their hands for selection, such as Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson and Daniel Sams, along with our established group, we have plenty of options. The competition for places in the final squad is healthy and the hallmark of all great teams.
Will IPL performance have a bearing on World Cup selection?
The IPL is a fantastic tournament. Any strong performances against some of the best players in the world will always be a factor, especially as the next T20 World Cup is in India.
There’s also the Ashes this year. So, keeping that in mind, has there been discussion about players’ workload management during the IPL?
That is and will be critical. It’s important we listen to the players and look out for them. Life in hubs or bubbles has made that even more important than ever. We are comfortable with those who are playing the IPL this year and their ability to manage their loads.
As a coach, how difficult is it to keep an eye on a player representing his country, province and clubs?
Fortunately, there are many ways we can keep a close eye on all our players. Selectors, coaches and managers watch a lot of cricket either in person, on broadcast or online. Our analysts also have access to vision and data from just about any game played anywhere in the world.
Tim Paine will remain Australia’s captain for the foreseeable future, says Langer. – GETTY IMAGES
As a player, you were exposed to all types of coaches. Is there one particular method you prefer?
When I became the head coach, I was given some great advice. In my journal, I wrote the strengths of all the coaches and mentors I have had throughout my career. From there, I took a little bit of them all to become the coach I am today. I also spend a lot of time talking to coaches from different sports. For me, it’s always about learning and getting better rather than being a specific style of coach or person. The best coaches always evolve.
Following the Test series against India, there have been conversations around Australia’s Test captaincy. Has there been any talk regarding Tim Paine’s successor in the team and the right time to blood his replacement?
Tim Paine is an exceptional leader and an exceptional person. He is and will be our captain for the foreseeable future, certainly past the Ashes at a minimum. What we do have in our side is a group of leaders, all of whom have some or a lot of captaincy experience.
Lastly, your thoughts on the World Test Championship and if it’s something that should be persisted with going forward?
From our perspective, it was great to have that goal to work towards. While we didn’t get there for several reasons, it definitely was one of our motivations. It’s difficult to judge given that the pandemic has affected so many series, but I definitely support the concept. Anything we can do to keep Test cricket healthy and in the spotlight is incredibly important to me.