Justin Langer’s immediate priority is the mental health of his players as Cricket Australia finalises a contract list and plots an uncertain path to the Twenty20 World Cup in October.
The COVID-19 pandemic means nobody is sure when cricketers will take the field again; the next domino to fall will be the Indian Premier League as organisers hastily attempt to reschedule.
Australia’s Test tour of Bangladesh in June is in immense doubt and it is entirely possible Langer’s team will have little or no match practice leading up to this year’s home T20 World Cup.
Langer is more concerned about the bigger picture.
Three of his four daughters have lost jobs and the West Coast board member has seen the AFL crumble in similar fashion, noting he has “great empathy for so many people going through this tough time”.
One of his first notable tasks in self isolation will be delivering bad and good news in the form of CA’s list of centrally-contracted players for 2020-21.
“I think we’re sticking to the plan of the 2nd of April. Out of respect we’ll talk to the players who have been contracted this year and who missed out on a contract,” Langer told reporters on a video call.
Glenn Maxwell’s recent candid admission he wanted his arm broken during the 2019 World Cup underlines the mental-health battles that many players wrestle with while living out of a suitcase for the majority of the year.
In that regard, the unprecedented health crisis has achieved a level of schedule respite that cricket administrators never could.
Langer admits the prospect of extended time at home with family will “feel like nirvana” for him and some players.
“I’m trying to encourage our players to find some silver lining,” he said.
“We identified in South Africa a number of our players were physically and mentally exhausted.
“We had all winter (in England) with the World Cup and the Ashes then into our summer … 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 like Maxwell, suggesting the current break was an ideal chance to “see how we can maybe get a bit more balance to the whole system”.
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.”