Former captain says “it seems like a very strange time for a coach to be departing”
Ponting, who describes his relationship with Langer as “like brothers”, is also managed by DSEG, as is former Australia captain Tim Paine. He spoke at length on ABC radio shortly after the resignation was announced and criticised CA for their handling of the saga.
“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,” Ponting said.
“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.”
Ponting, who was a coaching consultant under Langer within the Australian team for the 2019 World Cup, has longstanding relationships with a number of current players having also played with some of them and coached some of them in the IPL.
“Justin is a great mate of mine and I know how passionate he is about the Australian coaching job and that he wanted to continue on and be the best coach and have the best cricket team in the world,” Ponting said.
“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 I think 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.”
Langer’s resignation has opened the possibility for Australia to split the head coaching roles, something that Langer had warned was fine in theory but impractical. Ponting held the same view believing that one head coach was the ideal solution.
“If you can find the right person that’s willing to give up 10 or 11 months of their year to be the full-time Australian cricket coach then, in an ideal world, that’s the person you would go for,” Ponting said.
“[As a player] I’d want the same coach. I’d want to be hearing similar messages day in and day out. The most important thing is the relationship between the player and the coach and, if you start putting two or three people in those roles, I think there can be a lot more confusion there than there needs to be.”
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo