Australia coach Justin Langer has admitted that Australia’s recent Test series against India was a “tough time” and that the unit felt like “punching bags” due to the criticism they were coping in the media. “I look back now at Sydney and Melbourne (and) without sounding like a sook, we felt like punching bags through a lot of criticism in the media,” Langer told radio station SEN on Tuesday.
“We got beaten in Melbourne on Boxing Day, we drew the last Test in Sydney and India were a really tough opponent, but I’m sure in 10 years I’m going to look back and say, ‘geez that was a tough time but I’m better for it’,” Langer said.
Australia came into the series with a degree of confidence after their performance in the preceding tour of the UAE against Pakistan. Although they lost the first Test in Adelaide, they won the second to level the four-match series 1-1. But they were blown away in the third and fourth Tests and conceded the series 2-1. They were asked to follow on in the fourth Test after being all out for 300 in reply to India’s first innings total of 622/7 and were 6/0 when the weather ensured that no more cricket would be played.
It was the first time ever that Australia were losing a Test series to any Asian side at home. They were suffering from a misfiring bowling lineup and inexperienced batsmen. India on the other hand, continued with their impressive bowling performances while the batsmen finally came good after a year in which they struggled to score runs in England and South Africa.
The team, particularly the bowlers, copped criticism from a number of quarters. Former player Ricky Ponting tore into the team after Nathan Lyon decided to not review an LBW decision that went against him in the fourth Test. “That dismissal actually says a lot to me about the mindset of this Australian team at the moment. There’s no desperation there whatsoever,” Ponting said on Channel Seven, one of the host broadcasters. “Why wouldn’t they have had a look at that? They’ve still got the two reviews up their sleeve. There had to be some sort of doubt in that.”
Spin legend Shane Warne pointed out that the experienced bowling attack comprising of Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins had managed just one LBW throughout the series ahead of the fourth Test.
Langer, who became coach in May 2018 after Darren Lehmann stepped down in the wake of the Newlands ball tampering scandal, said that Australia will bounce back from this. Their next Test assignment is a two-match series against Sri Lanka at home. “I’m stronger and wiser by the day. We keep rolling our sleeves up and it’s a tough gig, but we’re up for the challenge, that’s for sure,” said Langer.