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UPDATED: Langer affair gets messy over pay dispute

John Townsend


UPDATE: Cricket Australia has agreed to pay departing coach Justin Langer the balance of his four-year contract.


“Justin will be paid in full,” a CA spokesman said after SportFM revealed the two parties were in dispute after Langer resigned three months before his deal expired.


Langer quit last week after rejecting a six-month extension.


He has just overseen Australian teams that won the Ashes 4-0 and secured the Twenty20 World Cup for the first time.


His departure prompted a major public backlash with numerous former Australian players criticising CA for the decision and the way it was handled.



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It is two weeks since Justin Langer was squeezed from the Australian coaching position and things are getting even uglier.


Langer is contracted until May 21 – the date four years from when he was brought in to clean up the mess exposed by the sandpaper affair in Cape Town – but his departure remains as messy as his removal.


You would think that Cricket Australia would want the Langer era to end in a dignified manner and one in keeping with the coach’s contribution over so many years.


Langer’s induction into the Hall of Fame only days before his departure as coach should have underlined his standing in the game.


Instead, CA appears to be attempting to short-change Langer.

In a response more bloody-minded and ham-fisted than anything they have done recently, and there is plenty of competition for that sad dishonour in CA’s hall of shame, this column understands that CA is reluctant to pay the last three months of Langer’s contract. CA’s rationale is that Langer’s decision to quit last week, rather than stay until May 21, meant he had reneged on the last portion of his term.


Lawyers could soon be involved and CA might have to defend their actions against a complainant who has restored the national team’s reputation, comprehensively won the two most significant events in the second half of his tenure and, through the PR debacle of the past fortnight,

become a genuine national martyr.


And Langer might even call board member Mike Baird, the former NSW premier, who was complimentary of the coach’s decision to leave.


“He decided to leave and of course you respect that,” Baird said on 2GB in what appears to be just the latest ambiguity in CA’s public stance.


If CA had any sense, Langer would have received a golden handshake and the best wishes of the game and its managers. Now, he may consider going to work for the main opposition while suing his recent employer for the final few percent of a job which even they claim he did well.


Ben Roberts-Smith might have kicked an own goal in his decision to sue a media organisation for its reporting of his war-time activities but CA’s recent capacity for ineptness is unmatched in this country.


Langer had been offered a six-month extension but that was obviously a vehicle designed to do what it inevitably did – provoke the coach to depart immediately rather than stay on a job which his employer clearly wanted him to leave. Now they want to punish him for doing what they hoped he would do.


There is no question that Langer did the honourable thing.


His exit has given his interim replacement Andrew McDonald clear air to prepare the team in the current Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka and upcoming tour of Pakistan.


McDonald might be the next permanent coach and he gets the chance to audition away from the shadow of his predecessor.


If there is anything to take out of this tawdry affair, it is that CEO Nick Hockley should be looking around for a new job after Baird’s decision to throw him under the bus last week. As a former premier, Baird is sure to know the impact of public statements and his claim that Hockley was the person responsible for Langer’s departure was disingenuous at the very least.


Baird knew fully that it was the board’s decision to end Langer’s career, by endorsing Hockley’s recommendation, rather than the call of the chief executive alone.


“The CEO ran a process . . . and he made a decision,” Baird said.


With friends like these, who needs enemies?


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John Townsend has been an award-winning sports writer for more than 30 years. He was chief cricket writer at The West Australian for 23 of them, covering a record 122 Tests including four Ashes tours, and four World Cup campaigns. He has also covered more than 500 WAFL and AFL matches. He will write a weekly column for SportFM this year.



IMAGE: Inside Sport