The vaccine didn’t arrive early enough to save the doomed test tour of South Africa, but Australia’s biggest cricket stars will kick off the coast of India.
Cricket Australia is expected to give players permission to fly to the Indian Premier League in April, where they could be among the first Australian athletes to be vaccinated – albeit in a foreign country.
There are 42 Australian stars who signed up for the IPL auction on February 18th, as well as several franchise players like Pat Cummins and David Warner who have already been retained by their IPL teams.
The entire tournament is believed to be held in Mumbai and there are strong indications that the Indian cricket board is pushing for access to a COVID-19 vaccine for players and officials involved in the multi-billion dollar Tournament involved.
The canceled three-test tour of South Africa, which all but destroyed Australia’s hopes for the first World Test Final in June, could have got the green light if the vaccine had been available.
South Africa also turned down two offers to play the series in Perth and now Cricket Australia is being asked to hastily organize a replacement test series this year.
But sources say this is an impossibility, which means the Australian testing site will do without an overseas test tour for a second straight year.
Tim Paine’s team will no longer be on the field before the ashes next summer. This is an absolute must-win streak that could change the future of many in setup.
The emptiness of the games removes any immediate debate about the Australian captain – Paine will be the Ashes skipper – but nothing is being done to fill the batting order gaps revealed by the Indian B-team.
The canning of the South Africa tour also took away coach Justin Langer’s chance to immediately stand in front of his players and lance the boil in the face of growing dissatisfaction with his coaching methods.
A forced break after a full summer in a bubble might not be bad for everyone involved, but if you miss the chance to get back to the winners circle in South Africa, Langer’s relationship with the dressing room will now last as a focus leading to the ashes.
It goes without saying that the core of what the players want to change is the desire for Langer to adapt his coaching style to the age and stage of the team.
When Langer started out in 2018, he had to be the die-hard disciplinarian when the squad got mixed up in the aftermath of the ball rigging scandal and in the three years since he introduced strong standards of conduct in the locker room.
But now that those standards are in place, players want him to relax his intensity, especially at game time, move closer to them and take their contributions on board more often.
According to sources, for the past fourteen days since the Indian streak ended, Langer has had one-on-one conversations with players – regardless of reports published – and has given honest feedback on how coaches and players can improve.
Langer has already admitted that radiating dissatisfaction from the dressing room served as a « wake up call » but said that when players are having problems, « I would prefer them to come straight to me ».
As the players attempt to pierce the bubble of tension they believe has engulfed them, it is an interesting time as former NRL boss Todd Greenberg begins his post as cricket players association manager.
One of the issues raised privately by players is the close relationship Langer shares with team performance leader Ben Oliver from his time in Western Australia combined with the fact that CA does not yet have a full-time CEO.
There is some concern about whether their complaints will be heard, which leads to the discussion about whether Greenberg could be a suitable mediator.
However, the Australian Cricketers’ Association – to which Langer also belongs as a former player – made it clear that it has not been approached by any Australian player and does not intend to interfere in the drama.
High-level sources close to the team also hope that the man-to-man issues between players and coaches can be resolved.
Marnus Labuschagne joined captain Paine as the second player to publicly express his support for Langer. The hit star urged the teammates to unite.
« (We have to make sure) that we continue to support each other … that will help us unite and rise to the best possible test team. »
Former fast-paced bowling star Mitchell Johnson, who was state-trained by Langer, said it was a « cop out » of the players, while the great captain Allan Border said it was « weak » behind Langer’s back and laundry in to go to the air changing room.
« I think they don’t seem to like hard love, that’s my understanding. Justin is a no-nonsense character, he doesn’t like people who take short cuts. He wants 100 percent effort to be made, » Border told Border Fox Sports News.
« I think it’s pretty weak of people to hide behind, I don’t get on well with the coach » and « it’s hard to talk to him ».
« You could very easily talk to Justin Langer, as long as you’re willing to do a bit of a Swisho, if you’re not doing the right thing.
« I guess man a little guys and just do it. Because he’s a good operator, Justin, and he’s just the guy we need.
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