Fuelling the speculation that Justin Langer, the current Australian coach, had wanted David Saker out of the support staff long before the latter resigned, Australia have made some bizarre appointments while being at the doorstep of the World Cup.
There was perhaps a catch to Cricket Australia announcing former captain, Ricky Ponting, as an assistant coach to Justin Langer for Australia’s campaign heading into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England as defending champions and five time winners. Ponting is after all the Australian captain who took Australia thrice to the final and to a trophy on two occasions. It stands to merit that Australia made this decision in the interests of the team and in a timely fashion at that, going into the World Cup’s final preparations with tours against India and Pakistan.
However, there seemed to be a deliberate timing to the events because not shortly before the announcement of Ponting joining Langer as part of Australia’s support staff in time for the ICC Cricket World Cup, David Saker turned in a quiet, unceremonious resignation that ironically spoke rather loud.
That Nathan Lyon, considered Australia’s best spinner at the moment, claimed to have no knowledge about the now former bowling coach and assistant coach resigning with immediate effect, it says a lot about the manner in which Australian cricket is operating at the moment. Those with an inkling seemed to suggest that Langer was simply biding his time before giving Saker the boot. To that end, it seemed convenient that Langer spoke about being in discussion with Saker about the decision for more than six months. Was the feud with the bowlers and difference of opinion the straw that was used to break the camel’s back as it were. Is there more than what meets the eye or is this merely a case of putting two and two together and making five?
There is another corollary to Saker’s exit following what he himself admitted to being a heated debate and discussion with the bowlers as India faced Australia on the field during the Test series. Whether it was the players’ fallout or the current coach’s wishes to appoint someone else for the job and the differences coming at a rather convenient time to roll out the changes, h w does Australia explain the fact that while Ponting has been announced as assistant coach for the ICC Cricket World Cup, Saker’s replacement, Troy Cooley, has only been appointed for the limited overs tours of India and Pakistan?
Does this mean Cooley is on trial and if things go south, Australia will pick another bowling coach appointment on the brink of the World Cup or is Cooley going to be the stop gap replacement as many suggest until Langer decides the time is right for him to ring in the changes of his choice?
In the meantime, Ricky Ponting may have to first contend with a potential conflict of interest scenario given that his proximity with one of the franchises of the Indian Premier League for 2019, the newly named Delhi team, could put him at odds given that there are likely to be worries that Ponting’s position gives me an inside track on some of India’s promising players in line to make the squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup. That is something neither Delhi nor the IPL officials would have perhaps contemplated unless Ponting accepted the role with Cricket Australia after due intimation and blessing.