Australian news May 12, 2011

Assistant coach Langer wants Ponting at No. 3


Australia's new assistant coach, Justin Langer, believes Ricky Ponting should stay at No. 3 in the batting order when Michael Clarke leads his first tour as Test captain later this year. Langer has spent the past 18 months around Australia's squad as a Test batting consultant, but his new role for the next year is as the full-time assistant to head coach Tim Nielsen.

However, Langer will still work closely with the batsmen, and one of the major questions surrounding Australia's batting order over the next year is how to handle Ponting. At 36, Ponting is in his twilight years as an international player, but he showed with his century in Australia's World Cup quarter-final loss that he still has something to offer, and Langer believes he can remain a top-order force.

"In my opinion, now that he has relinquished the captaincy, I still think he should bat No. 3," Langer told ESPNcricinfo. "He could bat anywhere in the order, so I guess they'll be looking at what the best balance is, but in my opinion he is still suited to that No. 3 spot. He was a little lean during the summer but he's outstanding, and we saw that in his last innings at the World Cup."

Another of the challenges for Langer and the rest of the coaching staff will be to turn around the Test form of the new captain Clarke, who in the past year has made 367 Test runs at a dismal average of 21.58. The initial signs for Clarke's leadership, during the one-day tour of Bangladesh, were positive, but he cannot afford to struggle with the bat during his first two Test tours as leader.

Those trips will most likely be to Sri Lanka in August, where his ability against spin will be critical, and in November to South Africa, where he will need to counter a high-class pace attack in unfriendly conditions. Langer is confident that Clarke can thrive as a batsman with the new responsibility of being the side's official leader, in the same way as his predecessors did.

"If you look at Steve Waugh and Punter, Andrew Strauss in England - the added responsibility might be good for him. In a lot of ways, Clarkey has been like the bridesmaid for a while, he's almost been waiting for the opportunity to be captain and now he has become captain, I expect him to really grasp it and show great leadership on and off the field.

"Ultimately, great leadership on the field is about scoring runs. That's why I admired Ricky and Steve Waugh so much, because in their tenure as captains they've also been absolutely outstanding batsmen. Their statistics as captain are fantastic."

Langer's appointment came on the same day that Craig McDermott was named bowling coach, and between them the two new mentors have represented Australia in 176 Tests. The pair should bring a serious Test-match mentality to the group, and Langer is looking forward to instilling some of his wisdom into all the players, not just the Test batsmen.

"I want to really develop my coaching and not just be pigeon-holed as a batting coach, but develop all aspects of my coaching. That's what really interests me. To me, it's a brand new appointment, really, as assistant coach. With Troy [Cooley] going to the academy and Mike Young going, I'm looking forward to being Tim Nielsen's right-hand man and really helping him in this resurgence of Australian cricket."

Cricket Australia's general manager of cricket, Michael Brown, said Langer had been a valuable presence around the squad since he joined the staff in November 2009. "Justin's record as a player and then over the last 18 months, as coach, leader and mentor within the Australia team coaching group, speaks for itself," Brown said, "and we are all delighted he has agreed to continue his outstanding work with the Australia team."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Brenton on May 13, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    New head coach, new chairman of selectors is needed. Mcdermott is the choice for bowling coach. He will toughen them up. Langer needs to toughen up the batsmen though. Phil Hughes needs to find form then Watson can go down to 4. Watson could seriously be the next Kallis but not as opener. Clarke at 5. Khawaja needs to come in at 6 for now. Our best spinner needs to be given a go, Beer or Hauritz. Ponting at 3.

  • Warrick on May 13, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    OMG- "Justin's record over the last 18 months, as coach, leader and mentor within the Australia team coaching group, speaks for itself," (Michael Brown...who-are-ya?) What success has Justin Langer to claim in the past 18 months?? I'm not saying JL is a bad coach & he can't be made responsible for Oz performances over the last 18 months....but what successes can he claim? I am now convinced the whole of CA is in denial, they have lost touch with reality people! No.3 is Pontings position to lose. If it was the captaincy that was 'cluttering' his mind and affecting his batting, it has gone now and given the servant he has been to Australian cricket, he deserves more chances. He should stay at 3 and give Kwaja a go at 6 to learn the ropes batting between Hussey & Haddin. It will also add much needed depth to the ozi batting. With Watto opening, it gives you the opportunity to play with four specialist bowlers. But if punter doesn't take his chance, roll on the future!

  • Basil on May 13, 2011, 10:19 GMT

    Yeh sure, Ponting should stay at 3. While we're at it let's bring back Hayden to open, Warne to bowl spin, and McGrath to take the new ball. Let's get our mates into cushy coaching roles and surround ourselves with YES men. We should also keep the same dud coach and selectors. Why don't we just live in the past and continue to refuse to look to the future?

  • Terry on May 12, 2011, 15:48 GMT

    Ponting was ' a little lean during the summer' , Justin? He and Clarke averaged under 20 in the Ashes and this demolition of Aust's Captain & Vice captain was one of the many shots from England that meant the series was an utter debacle for Australia. I like Langer and his work ethic and enthusiasm but i hope he has enough distance to kick some heads when required and not be one of the boys with his old mates or a cheerleader. And i know he is being polite and professional but if he is working under Neilsen again then we have even further to fall. The lack of up and coming batsmen means that Ponting, Hussey and even Katich may have to continue but in an ideal world it would be either Ponting or Hussey adding experience around 5 or 6 in a Steve Waugh role and no.3 being grabbed by part of the future like Khawaja. As for the new coach , i have no idea but if it has to be an experienced foreigner then so be it. Neilsen's English after all! Oh, and S Waugh or M Taylor replacing Hilditch.

  • Dummy4 on May 12, 2011, 12:52 GMT

    NOOOOOO!!!!!!! Khwaja, please? PLEEEASE?!?!?!? 1. Watson 2. Hughes 3. Khwaja 4. Ponting 5. Clarke 6. Hussey 7. Haddin 8. O'Keeffe 9. Johnson 10. Siddle 11. Bollinger :)

  • Big on May 12, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    Its interesting to read that Justin say "he's outstanding, and we saw that in his last innings at the World Cup." How can you judge a book by its cover. Langer is over optimistic that Punter's one century in over a year is the turning point for him. I think Cricket Australia in whole should stop fussing about Pointing and move on. As cricket West Indies said "No one is bigger then team".

  • django on May 12, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    I dont mind justin being there.........but if Tim Neilsen gets his contract extended I really am going start supporting Ireland. He has to go, he is the Kevin Rudd of Australian cricket. Pure waffling garbage!

  • Dummy4 on May 12, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    glad to see that u feel shaun marsh is ahead of phil hughes, when marsh avg's 37 in 4 day cricket where as hughes avg's 50, huge difference there, in one day and t20 cricket yes marsh is ahead, but not 4-5 day format. It is also suprising that hughes has scored these runs as he can't play the short ball.

  • Bryn on May 12, 2011, 10:40 GMT

    well as long as the selectors are the same and nielson is there im still not happy. why is shaun marsh not one of first picked and why is steve smith playing test cricket i mean im not going to hate him like everyone else seems to because he is talented no question and will be a start in the future but he has no use in the test team, none at all. if you play someone like smith you should be playing mitch marsh over him.

  • Lou on May 12, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    His record "over the last 18 months, as coach, leader and mentor within the Australia team coaching group, speaks for itself and we are all delighted he has agreed to continue his outstanding work with the Australia team."

    Nielsen will probably keep his job as well with similar PR nonsense spoken.

    If only our spin bowlers could spin as well as CA.

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