'I didn't like it at all' - Justin Langer unhappy with dual Australian teams for NZ, South Africa tours in 2021

Also raised concerns over how it could reduce the quality of players on display in the back end of the Sheffield Shield

Daniel Brettig
Daniel Brettig
Justin Langer will keep a close eye on how the players are coping

Justin Langer will keep a close eye on how the players are coping  •  Getty Images

Australia men's head coach coach Justin Langer has spoken frankly about his dislike of the concept of two different national teams playing at the same time, as will most likely be the case when the T20 side tours New Zealand at the same time as a Test squad is due to be touring South Africa in February and March next year.
Quarantining at home in Perth after already spending two weeks quarantined in the Adelaide Oval's new hotel following his return from the white-ball tour of the UK, Langer said that he did not like the concept of the national team being diluted by taking the field in different parts of the world at the same time.
He also raised concerns over how such a move, with squads of around 18 players required for each assignment, would drastically reduce the quality of the players on display in the back end of the ongoing Sheffield Shield competition, which just saw its first two games conclude in Adelaide on Tuesday. Langer said that Cricket Australia's chairman Earl Eddings and interim chief executive Nick Hockley were well aware of his views, which he leavened with an acknowledgement of the unique challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Not just from a coach's point of view but also from someone who's passionate about Australian cricket's point of view, my personal opinion, and the chairman knows this, the CEO knows this really clearly, is I didn't like it at all," Langer told SEN Radio. "I don't ever want to have two Australian teams in one place, that's my personal opinion. In this year with what's happening with Covid, I understand there's complexities to it.
"We're one country, aren't we? We're not two countries, and the one sport. The other thing is if you have two Australian cricket teams, that means if we take 18 players to New Zealand and 18 players to South Africa, that's 36 players out of the back end of the Sheffield Shield competition, and that's before any injuries that inevitably happen. So you take all your best players out of the back half of the Shield competition, which we've always said is the best domestic competition in the world.
"So they're the sort of things that worry me with this, but this is a really strange season. We've seen it in AFL, we've seen it in NRL, but I certainly would never like to see it being a permanent fixture."
We've been talking more privately than publicly at the moment about our need in all forms to find some allrounders.
Justin Langer
The strength of the Shield had been on display in Adelaide in a pair of willing contests decided in the final hour on day four, in conditions that allowed for the greater use of spin bowlers on a pair of surfaces that deteriorated and turned. Langer was enthused by that, the all-round feats of Michael Neser and Ashton Agar, each scoring a century and taking a five-wicket haul in the same match, and also the top-order runs scored by South Australia's Jake Weatherald.
"We've been talking more privately than publicly at the moment about our need in all forms to find some allrounders. In England when we beat England recently [in the ODI series] we changed the structure of our one-day side," Langer said. "Our one-day side hasn't been great over probably the last four or five years, since we won the World Cup [in 2015], and what we did was we talked about playing more allrounders so that we had more bowling options.
"We had Mitch Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell in there, and it worked really well and looked good and felt good on match day. One of the areas we've talked about needing to get better at. There's three areas, and it was nice to see it come off in domestic cricket. One is keep developing some allrounders. Michael Neser, a hundred and a five-for, he's a fine cricketer, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets an opportunity with the Australian cricket team soon. He's been in lots of tours but, geez, he keeps knocking hard. It was great to see Ashton Agar [get] a five-for and a hundred, so that's one area.
"We talked about opening or top-three batters. It was great to see Jake Weatherald for example scoring a hundred up the top, putting his name up. [Cameron] Bancroft and [Sam] Whiteman put on [106] opening the batting, which was good, and the other most-important area is our spin-bowling stocks. Geez, it was great to watch legspin bowling, great to watch. Mitch Swepson bowling 40-odd overs in the second innings, [Lloyd] Pope got five-for in the first innings bowling legspin, Marnus Labuschagne bowled legspin yesterday; legspin bowling is exciting for us in Australian cricket."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig