The independent voice of cricket

2021 in Review

Justin Langer named as Wisden Cricket Monthly’s coach of the year

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Wisden Cricket Monthly has named Justin Langer as Coach of the Year for 2021, the first time the award has been handed out.

The Australia coach had a tough start to the year which began with a home Test series loss to India. The team then lost three T20I series away from home to New Zealand, West Indies and Bangladesh before the T20 World Cup, with Australia not among the favouirtes for that event, a rough patch acknowledged by WCM editor-in-chief Phil Walker in his explanation of the decision to award Langer the gong.

“In January, India’s stiffs had beaten them at home, cleaning up at The Gabba, a second successive defeat at home in the biggest tie in Test cricket,” wrote Walker. “By July, Bangladesh were turning them over in a series for the first time. By August, Langer was forced to face up to a procession of insider leaks portraying him as surly, prone to mood swings and overly intense around the dressing room. Further stories said he’d been frantically trying to repair broken ties with senior players. He conceded that the reports were ‘a wake- up call’, while everyone else pointed to that Amazon doco and shrugged.”

Australia turned their struggles around in style, winning the T20 World Cup for the first time in their history, with Walker pointing to the decision to bat Mitchell Marsh at No.3 as a particularly significant move. Marsh was Player of the Final, hitting an unbeaten 77 to guide Australia’s chase of 173 to win.

“It’s debatable whether ‘bat Mitch Marsh at three’ ranks along with the great strategic masterstrokes of our time,” wrote Walker. “But the move was enough to galvanise Australia from the depths of a thrashing by England in the group stage to a walkover in the final against their bunnies, New Zealand, commemorated in time-honoured fashion by Marcus Stoinis drinking beer from a shoe.”

Australia’s year ended with victory over England in the Ashes confirmed, with Walker noting the rotation of Australia’s quicks and the management of the Tim Paine saga as two other positives against Langer’s name.

“Langer was noticeably reserved through what followed, as events did his talking for him,” he wrote. “Still, this was sweet vindication. Decisions to which he’d have been central worked like a dream. The quicks were shuffled perfectly. Debutants stole the show. The new captain slipped into the blazer with ease. Even the mess around Tim Paine’s sudden departure was quietly settled and swiftly forgotten. Asked after acing the first three matches of the Ashes if he’d like to carry on in the role, Langer simply said ‘Yes’.”

Whether Langer continues as Australia head coach is a matter of some debate, with Walker writing that he has earned the right “to go out on his own terms”.

“He has bought himself time in the job, and afforded himself the space to go out on his own terms, just as he did as a player, throwing roses to the crowd after the Pomwash of 06/07,” he wrote. “The old scrapper still loves the gig and feeds off the madness. He will not go quietly, and nor should he have to.”

In the latest issue of WCM, the magazine also announced its men’s Test team of the year and it’s cross-format Women’s team of the year for 2021.

Get three issues of Wisden Cricket Monthly for just £4.99. Link here.


Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99