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Justin Langer addressed 'confronting' team review with squad ahead of tour

Aaron Finch praised the coach for tackling the issues "head on"

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Justin Langer addressed the "confronting" team reviews that led to talk of unrest in the Australia dressing room before the limited-overs squad departed for West Indies with a greater use of an expanded team of assistant coaches one of the key recommendations.
Reports emerged in Nine newspapers after the Test series defeat against India that there were tensions behind closed doors, which was followed up by end-of-season reviews conducted with leadership consultant Tim Ford who had been involved with the return of David Warner and Steven Smith after their bans in 2019. But given the challenges created by Covid-19 last weekend's camp on the Gold Coast was the first time Langer had the chance to address a full squad.
Those heading to the West Indies were joined by others from outside the white-ball group, including Test captain Tim Paine, while New South Wales-based players were involved remotely due to the lockdown in Sydney.
"Over the couple of days on the Gold Coast we had a great camp…the ability for JL to address a few issues that came up in the review with Tim Ford, that was brilliant from him to tackle them head on, suppose put his side of the story, that shows the quality of the man he is and things he's working on," limited-overs captain Aaron Finch said from St Lucia.
"We are all behind him 100%, the way he's coached Australia in the last couple of years has been fantastic, think we've had some really good success. No doubt it was quite confronting for him at the time but he took it head on and it was great. Very positive from our point of view."
The intense nature of how Langer goes about his work was understood to be one of key issues raised in the reviews although there was an understanding of the trying circumstances created by bubble life.
Graeme Hick departed as batting coach amid the cost-cutting created by the pandemic last year, but Michael Di Venuto and Jeff Vaughan were announced as new assistant coaches on Thursday joining Andrew McDonald, who took charge of the T20 tour of New Zealand earlier this year when Langer had been due to head to South Africa, as Langer's support.
Di Venuto, who was previously the team's batting coach, is currently with the squad in West Indies and will join full-time for the home season alongside Vaughan after he stepped down as Tasmania coach.
"Think there was a combination of a few things," Finch said on changes to approach. "On the back of a lot of bubbles as well think he could have used his assistants a little better and delegated in that regard but there was nothing groundbreaking. It was stuff every player and every coach would reflect on themselves. The way he confronted that and the way it was received by the players was outstanding."
Finch and Langer do not have a full-strength squad available to them for the series against West Indies and Bangladesh (the latter yet to have the biosecure plans confirmed) following the withdrawal players due to bubble fatigue.
While Finch has admitted that it isn't an ideal situation leading into the T20 World Cup in four months he knows Australia are not alone with such a challenge and it is likely to remain that way for some time.
"We are going to have to manage players a little differently over the coming 12-24 months, however long the way cricket is," he said. "So while it's not the perfect preparation we are not alone in that and it will give an opportunity to continue to develop our depth and find some more solutions."
A further challenge for Australia is that there is the mandatory two weeks quarantine whenever they return to the country. To highlight the logistical jigsaw puzzle, there are only 13 days between the T20 World Cup final on November 14 and the scheduled opening day of the one-off Test against Afghanistan in Hobart on November 27.
It may require Cricket Australia to gain further exemptions from the government for players from both sides to take part inside their mandatory quarantine period. However, Finch made it very clear that no first-choice T20 players would be left out of Australia's squad.
"The T20 World Cup is an international event, the one piece of [limited-overs] silverware that was eluded us. They'll be no management for Test cricket, I can tell you that much."
The story was updated with news of the coaching appointments

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo