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Justin Langer finds ‘silver lining’ for Australia’s cricketers during coronavirus outbreak

Courier Mail 2020-03-26 14:31:00

National coach Justin Langer believes the coronavirus outbreak has been a blessing in disguise for Australia’s “physically and mentally exhausted” cricketers.

The men’s national cricket team has endured a cataclysmic 18-month period, during which they toured the United Arab Emirates and India twice, competed in a Cricket World Cup, retained the Ashes urn in England, visited South Africa and hosted two jam-packed home summers of cricket.

In total, they have played 18 Tests, 33 one-day internationals and 19 T20 internationals since September 2018, not including multiple fixtures for the Big Bash League, Sheffield Shield, Indian Premier League, County Championship, along with other tournaments.

Star spearhead Pat Cummins – who had an unfortunate injury record early in his career – has bowled 5085 deliveries in international matches since September 2018. If we estimate his run-up to be 25 metres, Cummins has therefore run the equivalent of six marathons while bowling for his country during that period. And that does not include time spent in the field, countless net sessions and domestic fixtures for New South Wales.

media_cameraPat Cummins has played 122 matches for Australia

Australia was scheduled for a further two ODI matches against the Black Caps, followed by a three-match T20 tour to New Zealand, but those fixtures were postponed after the coronavirus outbreak grew in severity earlier this month.

A two-Test tour of Bangladesh is next on the agenda for Tim Paine’s men, but there’s lingering uncertainty about whether that series can go ahead. The unprecedented health crisis has therefore achieved a level of schedule respite cricket administrators never could.

Langer admitted the prospect of extended time at home with the family will “feel like nirvana” for him and some players.

“I’m trying to encourage our players to find some silver lining,” Langer said.

“We identified in South Africa a number of our players were physically and mentally exhausted … It gives them a really good opportunity to recharge. We’re looking at scenarios to make sure we’ll be ready for whatever comes.”

Langer added it was up to the entire industry to work together and make sure players don’t get burnt out, suggesting the current break was an ideal chance to “see how we can maybe get a bit more balance to the whole system”.

media_cameraAustralian coach Justin Langer in January

The mental-health challenges created by isolation and such great uncertainty are also at the forefront of the mind of the former Test opener, who has been a long-term proponent of meditation.

“We talked about it in a conference call yesterday,” Langer said.

“Particularly for any of our staff or players who are home alone basically, we have to keep an eye on those guys and girls to make sure they’re OK.

“Caring about people is a really important part of leadership.”

Langer also revealed three of his four daughters had lost their jobs this month due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s certainly been a great eye-opener,” Langer admitted.

“If worse comes to worst and we lose a cricket season, obviously we’ll learn lessons from the other codes living through it now.”

With AAP

Originally published as Langer’s coronavirus ‘silver lining’

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