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The Aussies are coming - but who will coach them?

April 18, 2018

The arrival of the Australian cricket team this summer may be less of a high-profile event than next year when the Ashes takes place, but there are some exciting matches to look forward to nonetheless. 

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the opening one-day international at the Kia Oval on June 13th will get their first look at what may be a much-changed Australia side, who are coming to play England in five 50-over games, as well as one Twenty20 match at Edgbaston

The recent sandpaper affair in South Africa has meant lengthy bans for captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft. While the latter was not an automatic selection, Australia will have some big shoes to fill in the absence of two of their star men.

In addition, while absolved of any part in the affair, head coach Darren Lehmann stepped down at the end of the tour amid concerns about the culture of the side that had, it was widely agreed, reached its nadir with events in Cape Town. 

The question is, who will be the new coach and what might he bring to the side? 

Justin Langer, the former Test opener who played with Lehmann for Australia and now coaches Western Australia and Perth Scorchers, has been hotly tipped for the job. Indeed, the Perth-based West Australian newspaper has reported that his appointment will be rubber-stamped by the end of this week. 

However, Cricket Australia (CA) has responded quickly by denying that any deal has been done with Langer - or indeed anyone else. It claimed the process of seeking the new coach has not even started yet.

A spokesman for the board said: "The process to be undertaken for the appointment of a new Australian men's head coach will be discussed and agreed at the CA board meeting this Friday.

"We expect to have a clearer understanding of the approach and appointment timelines following this meeting."

None of this means Langer will not get the job, however, and if he does the approach may be subtly different from that taken by Lehmann. It will still have plenty of the hard-headed Aussie about it, of course. While diminutive in stature - for which he was frequently teased by the Barmy Army - Langer is a tough cookie and a zen do kai (a type of kick-boxing) black belt. 

However, the discipline involved in the sport may lead Langer to pick his battles wisely. In an interview with The Age in 2005, he discussed the influence of his sensei (teacher) Jon Andrew.

"He taught me about respecting my elders, about respecting martial arts and respecting myself and my opponents. All those things have been very important in my life and helped me with my cricket career," Langer said. 

Clearly, therefore, there would be something rather different about the approach Langer would bring if he does become coach. 

He is not the only viable candidate, of course. Jason Gillespie, a member of the same golden generation of Aussie cricketers as Langer, has enjoyed County Championship-winning success with Yorkshire before moving to Sussex ahead of this season.  

It would certainly bring much disappointment on the south coast if their new appointee was to leave having barely got his feet under his desk in Hove, but Gillespie's record in England might be a compelling reason for Cricket Australia to pursue his services, as would his mild-mannered nature. 

Image: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images from Keith Prowse subscription

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