But a little later, when unrest within the Australian cricket team over Langer erupted into public view, it was Langer, with a far less checkered personal history than Goodwin, who left. The Ashes and the T20 World Cup were in the trophy cabinet, but that end did not authenticate the means. The players were sentenced, but like in Melbourne, the board made the appeal.
You didn’t have to read far between the lines of captains Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch to find out why. The Australian team personally had nothing against Langer and were grateful for his cultural rehabilitation, they said, but they wanted a more “collaborative” approach. In other words, they wanted a cricket coach, not a footy-style overlord.
Andrew McDonald is the heir apparent, but there is also a push for Trevor Bayliss. When he was England manager, Bayliss said his job was not to watch, but to create a relaxed environment, prompting writer George Dobell to say he could be replaced by ” scented candles, a yucca plant and ambient whale sounds”. You may laugh, but Bayliss led England to a World Cup.
Both Langer’s and Goodwin’s work are highly publicized and very stressful. They took tolls on both. It also emerged this week that Goodwin allegedly blew up at a doctor for his careful management of a concussion. Obviously, this was not held against the coach. There was consensus that this was to be expected in such a volatile environment.
It is doubtful. Between coach and player, there must be rough exchanges, perhaps. Between coach and health professional, sorry? Anyway, the doctor went.
In August, while on tour with Australia in Bangladesh, Langer berated a member of staff at Cricket Australia’s website over a minor matter. This shocked some players, brought tensions to the surface and was the catalyst for a review process, prompting Langer to change his ways, but can ultimately be seen as the beginning of his end. The captains – Cummins, Finch and Tim Paine, don’t forget – had their say. The coach left.
Football has coaches for more than a century. In cricket, Australia had none until Bob Simpson in 1986. It suited then wading captain Allan Border to have a supervisor, but his successors tended to be lieutenants, the exact balance of power depending on personalities. The seniority is clear. In football, it is the coach who speaks before and after the matches. In cricket, it’s the captain.
Remember that after the Cape Town 2018 disaster, the captain and vice-captain were sacked, but not the coach, Darren Lehmann. He resigned later. This tells you all about the hierarchy of responsibilities.
The twist, of course, is that when Langer was installed in Lehmann’s place, a huge theoretical responsibility was devolved to him, more than any previous manager, more than any football manager. He was to not only train the national cricket team, but to reform it and bring the country with him, and he did. In a sense, he was coaching all of Australia. Goodwin coached a club.
Both ended up in wars. Both have reached inflection points. Both have changed. Both have won the biggest prizes in their sport. Thereafter, Goodwin lost only part of his premiership glory. Langer, choosing to quit rather than fight, lost his job.
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