In March 2018, the Australian cricket team was in serious trouble after some players were caught cheating on the field.
The captain, vice-captain and the player who was the executor of the cheating that had been planned all lost their places and were ejected from cricket. Captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned for two years and Cameron Bancroft for nine months.
Coach Darren Lehmann retained his job but resigned soon thereafter.
The new coach, appointed recently, is Justin Langer. Through this appointment, Cricket Australia hopes to avoid any incidents that bring more disrepute on the team.
It would have been better if they had appointed former Test fast bowler Jason Gillespie. Langer, it may be recalled, tried to cheat during a Test match against Sri Lanka in 2004.
To quote from a published report: “In a bizarre incident, Langer brushed and dislodged a bail midway through the 80th over of Sri Lanka’s innings, an action he later described as unintentional. After left-handed batsman Hashan Tillakaratne completed a single to fine-leg, Australia’s fieldsmen crossed the pitch in preparation for the right-handed Thilan Samaraweera. Langer walked between the wicket and Samaraweera and broke the stumps with his hand.
“Later, Australian captain Ricky Ponting asked umpires Steve Bucknor and Dave Orchard about the fallen bail, but neither had seen Langer as he crossed the pitch. Accordingly, Bucknor and Orchard stopped play for three minutes while the matter was taken to third umpire Peter Manuel.
“Manuel ruled Tillakaratne not out. A reportedly upset Langer consulted team manager Steve Bernard during the lunch break, claiming to have been unaware that he was responsible for dislodging the bail.
“Bernard immediately relayed Langer’s sentiments to ICC match referee Chris Broad who, after receiving a report from the umpires at tea, charged the West Australian with a code of conduct breach. Broad later decided Langer had made an innocent mistake. However, he reminded the batsman to take more care in similar situations in the future.”
Langer is also the same man who denied he made contact with the ball when he nicked Wasim Akram to the keeper during a Test match in Hobart in 2009. Australia won that Test by six wickets, chasing down 350-plus.
In 2016, Langer admitted that he had cheated in that case too.
And the men who run cricket in Australia think he is the right man to coach the team, just after it was involved in a case of ball-tampering. Welcome to the new coach, a good likeness of the old one.
Here are some highlights of Lehmann’s cricketing career:
Jan 2003: Banned for five one-day internationals for racial outburst against Sri Lankans, calling them black cunts.
March 2006: Reprimanded for comments against Cricket Australia sponsors ING. “a 9.30am start, I don’t know how many times you have to say it. Thank God we might be changing sponsors. That might allow us to play at different times.”
July 2006: Censured by Yorkshire for making an obscene gesture to the crowd.
December 2012: Fined US$3000 and suspended for two years after questioning the bowling action of West Indian Marlon Samuels.
“He couldn’t bowl in the IPL last year. Yet he can bowl in the BBL. We’ve got to seriously look at what we’re doing. Are we here to play cricket properly or what?”
August 2013: Accused Stuart Broad of “Blatant cheating” during 2013 Ashes series. On Broad’s decision not to walk after edging to slip: “I just hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go and I hope he cries and goes home.”
August 2013: Fined 20%of his match fee for accusation against Broad.
April 2014: Admits that the 2003 racial outburst against Sri Lanka was the “biggest mistake of my life”.
March 2017: Lehmann defended Steve Smith after the then captain was caught on camera looking up to the pavilion for guidance before making a DRS call in Bangalore.
March 2018: Lehmann defended David Warner after the incident where the opener nearly came to blows with Quentin de Kock in the pavilion in Durban. On this he said: “There are things that cross the line and evoke emotion and you’ve got to deal with that. Both sides are going to push the boundaries. That’s part and parcel of Test match cricket.”
March 2018: Lehmann called Newlands’ crowd abuse “disgraceful” after Warner’s exchange with a fan.
March 2018: Resigns after ball tampering controversy.
The only thing left for Cricket Australia to do now is to appoint drug cheat Shane Warne to be the team’s adviser. That would be the clincher.