Justin Langer deserves the chance to lead Australia at the Twenty20 World Cup and Ashes at the end of the year, according to one of his recent charges.
- Usman Khawaja said he was concerned that players’ issues were not kept in-house
- An under-strength Australian men’s side lost nine of 13 limited-overs games against West Indies and Bangladesh in July and August
- Cricket Australia has backed Langer through the summer
Langer’s position as coach of the men’s national side is under scrutiny after just four wins from 13 games on limited-overs tours of the Caribbean and Bangladesh, reports of player unrest and public blow-ups with Cricket Australia staff.
Usman Khawaja played 11 Tests and 22 one-day internationals for Australia under Langer’s tutelage, but has not played for his country since being dropped during the 2019 Ashes series.
The 34-year-old weighed into the debate over Langer’s position on his YouTube channel, saying there should be no change before the Twenty20 World Cup in October and November or this summer’s Ashes series.
“He deserves the opportunity to coach Australia in the T20 World Cup, he deserves the opportunity to coach Australia in The Ashes,” Khawaja said.
“If after all that, things are still not going well … that is when you look at things and think ‘OK, maybe do we need to change something’.
Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley on Wednesday said the organisation was backing Langer as coach through the World Cup and Ashes, hailing him for “raising the culture, values and behaviour” of the team since taking over after Sandpaper-gate in 2018.
Khawaja acknowledged Langer was “very passionate” and “can be very emotional” as he rides the highs and lows that come with international cricket, which can rub people the wrong way.
This was on display during the documentary series The Test, when Khawaja’s honesty and status as one of few senior players in the national set-up saw him regularly in frank conversations with the coach.
But the Sheffield Shield-winning Queensland captain said the relationship between the pair was “really good” and there is mutual respect.
With all the talk around about players being put offside by Langer’s sometimes abrasive personality, Khawaja said it was concerning that those issues were being aired in the media, rather than kept in-house.
“That’s why it’s so disappointing. It’s a really bad look and it’s something the group needs to sort out ASAP.”
“It’s not always 100 per cent the coach’s fault. The guys aren’t performing, the players have to take ownership at some stage,” he added.
After being without most of their biggest stars for the West Indies and Bangladesh matches, big names like Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell will return to the team for the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Their first match is against South Africa on October 23.