New coach Langer out to heal relationships

Michael Ramsey and Scott Bailey
Justin Langer has been part of Cricket Australia's coaching set-up for the best part of a decade

Justin Langer has declared there is still a place for sledging as he sets his sights on healing fractured relationships, earning back respect and reforming Australia's cricket culture as national coach.

Langer will oversee all three formats of the game after being appointed to replace Darren Lehmann, who stood down after the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.

The former Test opener has been signed on a four-year deal which will see Australia through to the World Cup and next home Ashes series.

Langer had long been viewed as Lehmann's successor, and Cricket Australia has backed the 47-year-old to replicate the success he had as coach of Western Australia.

The WACA was in disarray when Langer took over in 2012 but his ability to produce cultural change and nurture talent was reflected by the strong on-field success that followed, including two one-day titles and three Twenty20 crowns.

The Warriors now have six players on central contracts in the Australian set-up, more than any other state.

"When I took over ... it was like a dysfunctional family," Langer said on Thursday.

"The ex-players hated the WACA, the WACA hated them back, club cricket hated them ... and it was angry. Everyone was angry.

"We've got to bring a bit of love back. That's how I see the role."

His biggest challenge 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.

Langer was no stranger to sledging as a player, with the national team under Steve Waugh notorious for its aggression towards opponents and "mental disintegration" tactics.

Quizzed about sledging on Thursday, Langer 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 players had gone too far.

McGrath infamously threatened to tear out Sarwan's throat in response to a jibe about his cancer-stricken 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 ... 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, 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 was a national assistant coach for several years and served as interim coach in a T20 series against Sri Lanka in 2017.

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.