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Sledging has a place in cricket, says new Australian coach


Justin Langer has declared sledging still has its place after being tasked with reforming Australia’s cricket culture as national coach.

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The former Test opener will oversee all three formats of the game, taking over from Darren Lehmann who resigned after the ball-tampering scandal.

Langer, who served as Western Australia coach for six years and has worked as a national assistant, has been signed on a four-year deal which will see Australia through to the World Cup and next home Ashes series.

His most pressing task will be rebuilding the reputation of an Australian side tarnished by the events in Cape Town which resulted in year-long suspensions for stars Steve Smith, David Warner and a nine-month ban for opener Cameron Bancroft.

The 47-year-old Langer was a key member of a Steve Waugh-led national team notorious for its aggression towards opposition players and “mental disintegration” tactics.

Langer today highlighted a 2003 on-field altercation between Glenn McGrath and West Indian batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan as one of only two instances during his career where he felt sledging had gone too far.

McGrath infamously threatened to tear out Sarwan’s throat in response to a jibe about his wife.

“That was a very sensitive time for Pigeon … it probably crossed the line and there were consequences for that,” Langer said.

“I think some of the best banter is among each other to get the opposition thinking about other things.

“Mental toughness is simply about being 100 per cent focused on the next ball.

“If you’re worrying about what you’ve just said to me, then there’s a distraction.

“But we all know what the acceptable behaviours are.

“There’s a difference between competitiveness and aggression and we’ve got to be careful with that.”

Langer will take the reins for next month’s one-day international tour of England and will be tasked with leading the Australian team through one of the most difficult years in recent times without Smith, Warner and Bancroft.

He expected Warner, who was found to have masterminded the Cape Town ball-tampering incident and will never again serve a national leadership role, to be welcomed back into the Australian set-up upon serving his suspension.

Langer will play a role in the cultural review stemming from the ill-fated South African tour, joining new captain Tim Paine and fast bowler Pat Cummins and other former players in assessing player and team behaviour.

A veteran of 105 Tests, Langer retired at the end of the 2006-07 Ashes series with 23 centuries and 7,696 runs to his name.

He has since turned around WA’s fortunes on and off the field, winning the Big Bash League three times as coach of the Perth Scorchers as well as claiming two one-day titles with the Warriors.

He was most recently Australian interim coach in a T20 series against Sri Lanka in 2017, after having been assistant between 2009 and 2012.

Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland described Langer as a “clear standout” among the candidates to replace Lehmann but confirmed CA did not look beyond Australian coaching ranks.

“Whilst Darren Lehmann was not due to complete his term until next year, we have had a succession plan in place for this role for some time,” Sutherland said.

“We firmly believe Justin is the right person to lead this team and have huge confidence in what he will bring to the role.”


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