Ponting rues 'sad day' for Australian cricket and blasts 'embarrassing' Langer departure

By Sports Desk February 05, 2022

Ricky Ponting described Justin Langer's departure as head coach as a "sad day" and said Cricket Australia's (CA) handling of the situation was "embarrassing".

The news of Langer's exit as Australia coach was confirmed by his management team DSEG and followed a lengthy meeting with CA late on Friday.

Ponting is a former a team-mate and long-time friend of Langer, and the Australia great criticised the way both he and former captain Tim Paine – who resigned just three weeks out from the Ashes amid the emergence of an investigation four years ago over explicit messages sent to a female co-worker -– have been treated by CA.

Speaking to ABC Radio, Ponting said: ""It is a really sad day as far as Australian cricket is concerned and if you look back it has been a really poor six months on the whole in the way that Cricket Australia has handled some of the better people in the Australian cricket - Justin Langer and Tim Paine - and I think it's been almost embarrassing the way they have handled those two cases.

"He mustn't have had the full backing of the board. Me knowing Justin the way that I do, he was very keen to continue in the role, as he should have been after what's been the best coaching period of his international career having just won the T20 World Cup and then the 4-0 result in the Ashes.

"It seems like a very strange time for a coach to be departing. Reading the tea leaves it sounds like a few - and as he [Langer] says to me a small group in the playing group and a couple of other staff around the team - haven't entirely loved the way he has gone about it.

"That's been enough to force a man who has put his life and heart and soul into Australian cricket and done a sensational job at turning around the culture and the way the Australian team has been looked at in the last few years to push him out of the job." 

Only John Buchanan has a better winning record among Australia coaches than Langer since 1985 when they began employing full-time head coaches.

Langer oversaw an Ashes drubbing of England in his final Test series, which followed immediately from T20 World Cup glory in the United Arab Emirates.

However, the latter triumph is said to have stemmed from a player-driven environment with Langer having agreed to take a more hands-off approach after receiving criticism following a home defeat to India in the 2020-21 Test series and subsequent white-ball losses to West Indies and Bangladesh.

Langer's intensity away from the pitch has been an apparent point of contention among some of the playing squad.

Ponting was asked whether Test skipper Pat Cummins was part of the dissenters and if he found that disappointing, to which he replied: "Justin is a great mate of mine and I know how passionate he is about the Australian coaching job.

"He wanted to continue on and be the best coach and have the best cricket team in the world.

"I think Pat also has been put in a difficult situation as captain, if it's not just him and it is other players coming to him and letting him know that maybe they think Justin is not the right man then that puts Pat in a difficult position as well.

"If he had got on the front foot and endorsed Justin they would not have been in a position to move him on.

"I am close to Justin, we are like brothers but I have not got too heavily involved in this, as much as giving him a pat on the back and put an arm around him here and there, there was no way I could change the way this was heading.

"What's happened today I've felt was coming for quite a while, even looking back before the T20 World Cup there was a lot of speculation there."

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