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Cricket news - Langer looks at 'silver lining' in having time off from cricket

In these trying times, Langer is finding solace in "the fact we're home with our families, we sleep in our own bed, we eat home cooked dinners"

In these trying times, Langer is finding solace in "the fact we're home with our families, we sleep in our own bed, we eat home cooked dinners"

Justin Langer has asked his players to find some "silver lining" amidst the debilitating mayhem that's been caused around the world by the coronavirus. In what he described as "more than a rainy day" scenario, the Australian men's head coach also asked them to make the most of the "opportunity to recharge" and do "things you wouldn't normally do".

Speaking to the media via video conference from his father's home in Perth (owing to a poor internet connection at his own place), Langer also looked at the one bright side of being in a lockdown with no live sport: "the nirvana in the fact we're home with our families, we sleep in our own bed, we eat home cooked dinners and we can still work in one degree or another from home". Here's more from the interaction, which ranged across various topics.

On how he and the team was coping with the Covid-19 outbreak:

Like everyone, we're scrambling at the moment. From a personal point of view, I'm trying to encourage our players to find some silver lining out of it. What I mean by that is we're at the back end of our season. If we can use it as effectively as possible to give ourselves a physical and mental break it's very important.

We identified in South Africa a number of our players were physically and mentally exhausted. We had all winter with the World Cup and the Ashes then into our summer, the boys were playing before that. Some of them came straight from the IPL to the World Cup, the point is it gives them a really good opportunity to recharge. We're looking at scenarios to make sure we'll be ready for whatever comes up.

On whether his players will need a training regime while being isolated:

One of our values is elite professionalism. I'll be very, very surprised if all our guys aren't working very hard. They'll have a mental break. Most of them, part of their lifestyle now as professional athletes, is they will keep themselves nice and fit. We don't have the same formalised opportunities to do that. I also look at that really positively, guys have to take responsibility for staying healthy, staying fit, and working out how they will get the balance right between using the time for that and being healthy with it.

On whether his players were capable of handling the real-life perspective from the current scenario and his role in that:

We've got incredible resources in Cricket Australia now. We've got full time professional development managers in all the states, we've got full time psychologists at most of the states. The very fact we're sitting here now, the truth is for me personally and for all the players, this is like nirvana in the fact we're home with our families, we sleep in our own bed, we eat home cooked dinners and we can still work in one degree or another from home.

I've had 15 teleconferences in the last week or so and found it really working well. We're all staying connected. There's so many other ways you can learn. There's books, online learning, the internet is incredible. Staying connected for one thing but also using this as an opportunity to do things we wouldn't normally do

On getting a chance to grow his beard and walk around barefoot around home:

Believe it or not, with the crisis around the world, that affects all sectors. The health sector, the financial sector, the credit sector and every single person, no one is immune to this. What it does do for me and a lot of the guys who are on the road for 10 months of the year it gives us the chance to be with our families, grow a beard, wear no shoes, get in my garden and be able to work from my office at home. There's upside. We're in the very fortunate situation where we've come to the end of our season. A lot of our guys were going to take some sort of break anyway. We know we can't sit on our hands. We don't know how long this will last for. We keep talking within the Australian cricket team to all the players - stay ready, stay ready, stay ready. It's no different for us in coaching or administration.

On Glenn Maxwell's recent revelation about his mental struggles during the World Cup:

I think that Maxi's struggles have been very public. He showed great courage the way he publicly talked about that and he stepped away from the game. It's a great challenge for all of us. I think one of the things we have to do, I've reflected on, we all have to work, the players, the agents, Cricket Australia, the States, we all have to work together. It was a really tough time for him, you don't want to see any of your players go through that. But at the same time, we have a responsibility to make sure the players don't get burnt out and playing cricket 12 months of the year certainly can have an impact. And again, this is where this opportunity for everyone to slow down a little bit and reflect and see how we can get that balance right. This provides us with an opportunity - throughout all of world cricket actually - just to take a breath, have a look and see how we can maybe get a bit more balance to the whole system.

On keeping his players motivated:

I've got four daughters at home and three of them have lost their jobs. So, getting a bit stir crazy. The cricketers are no different to everyone else out there. There's so much uncertainty at the moment and we stay connected from an employee point of view. The way Kevin Roberts has stayed connected with all the staff has been outstanding, and we're trying to do the same with our players, stay connected, stay in touch with them. And they know, who knows, it's always difficult to stay motivated when you haven't got a concrete goal there in front of you.

On how the team has developed under him and performed in the last 12 months:

After retaining the Ashes and making the semi-final of a World Cup, it was certainly a golden summer in Australia. Unfortunately, we didn't get over the line against India but we started off so strongly. Losing that series 2-1. Our T20 performance, I think we were undefeated in Australia which is an unbelievable achievement. The boys are getting better and better. We're climbing up the rankings in Test cricket and T20 cricket. One day cricket though, we've still got a lot of work to do and that's exciting. That's exciting. We had a nice period there leading up to and including the World Cup and I see South Africa more as a blip than anything else. Without making any excuses, South Africa played excellent cricket. Like playing Germany in the soccer, so disciplined always.

On the impact of his players not having an IPL to prepare for the T20 WC:

I think one or two positions in our World Cup side up for grabs. It's a very, very settled team. The way our T20 side is playing has been brilliant. Would have been nice to play some more games for some of our younger players to be subjected to the pressure which is definitely going to come in the World Cups. But in terms of selection, I'm not too stressed about it. No one has any clarity on this at the moment, (if) we'll get in the match practice leading into the World Cup. In my opinion there's no better practice than match practice and I'm sure, that we will, when the time's right, whether it's through the IPL, whether England continues to go ahead, whether Afghanistan continues to go ahead, whether lead-up games against West Indies and India go ahead before the World Cup, the most important part will be for us to get match practice and we'll make sure we either manufacture it or we'll have plenty of that if this crisis slows down quicker than we think.

On if the team is preparing for the tour of Bangladesh in June, if it somehow goes through:

We've got an incredibly hard-working staff who have been planning and preparing the selection. We were very close to having a handle on who we thought would be best to be selected for the Bangladesh tour. We will put that on hold for a bit. But we've been planning for Bangladesh for some time and if it does go ahead then we'll be ready for it.

On if he'll be ok with his players going to the IPL if the borders do open:

Obviously through this - before all this crisis started to unravel, we were absolutely determined for our guys to play the IPL this year. Because the T20 WC coming up, there's no better grounding, no better practice, no better tournament for them to get ready for that. But obviously things have changed a lot. The health of not only our individual players, but also our country and India as a whole is paramount here.

So obviously if things start changing rapidly, from a pure cricket point of view of course we want our players playing in the IPL. But like with so many things in our communities at the moment, there's not great clarity in there.

On how CA needs to focus on the mental health of the players when they have to endure isolation of this kind:

We talked about it in a conference call yesterday. Particularly for any of our staff or players who are home alone basically. We have to keep an eye on those guys and girls to make sure they're ok. Hopefully, being around their families and having a rest from the pressure of the games at the moment will have an impact. We have awareness of people who will be more or less vulnerable to that. So we'll make sure we look after them and care for them. That's absolutely crucial.

On what he's learnt from being on the board of AFL Club, the West Coast Eagles, following the suspension of their season:

It's certainly been a great eye opener. Wow. In cricket none of us can sit on our hands and think 'we've got this time'. We're really fortunate but it could have decimated. If worse comes to worse and we lose a cricket season - obviously we'll learn lessons from the other codes living through it now. It's a great eye opener to me, how careful we have to be. We talk about being prepared for rainy days. This is certainly more than a rainy day, Because of my involvement and close links to the AFL, I have great empathy for so many people going through this tough time. We've seen it - whether it's a footy club or my daughters all lose their jobs, no sport on TV, the corporate world.

On whether the enforced break could be used in the future as a blueprint

I wish there was easy answers to it. Because if - I've reflected a lot on this recently -if we didn't have such a hectic schedule then my advice from a financial point of view, there's going to be some real challenges isn't there?

Thankfully there is money in the game to support people in these times. It's a real balancing act, I don't know what the answer is. While there is so much talk about the scheduling, we also have to respect the hectic nature of the business we're in employs a lot of people and keeps us - having some security in these tough times.

On the response to Test the documentary on the Australian cricket team, which features him as a central character:

I was so nervous about it. I've watched different episodes and found it incredibly confronting. But having said that it's all been eased - because the feedback from people who watched it has been overwhelmingly positive. I've been blown away.

I swore a little bit in the first few episodes, a number of people have commented on. A few people have - my grandfather if he was alive today wouldn't be that impressed with my potty mouth at times. But in coaching, a lot of it is acting and getting points across. For people watching, it's a great insight to what happens. I'm very proud of it. When we watched episode 7 at the premiere, I left that night knowing how much I love my job, how much I love my players and how fortunate we are to be in this industry.

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