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Former Australia batsman Justin Langer has been appointed the interim coach of Australia for the T20 series against Sri Lanka next year in February. The retired batsman, who was in charge of the team that won the tri-series in West Indies earlier this year, will oversee three T20I matches while full-time coach, Darren Lehmann along with the Test team will prepare for the first Test in India that starts just a day after the final T20I.
The likes of Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin and Shane Warne were in the fray for the post but Cricket Australia (CA) appointed the man who has a brilliant track record as a coach in the shortest format of the game. The 46-year old has guided Perth Scorchers to two titles in Big Bash League.
Expressing his delight over the appointment, an elated Langer said:“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with the national side in the Caribbean earlier this year, so I am excited and very grateful to get this opportunity to do it again, this time with the Twenty20 International squad against Sri Lanka.
“Twenty20 International cricket is the one format in which Australia is yet to win a global tournament so every chance we get to play it and develop our skills is very significant. That means these three matches will be hugely important.
“The advantage myself and the players will have is that the series will come just over two weeks after the Big Bash League wraps up so we should all still be in Twenty20 mode,” he added.
He said that since the senior players will be in India preparing for the Test series, it will be a good opportunity for the youngsters to impress.
He said:“And with several senior players set to be in India ahead of the Test series, it really will give players an added incentive to perform in the upcoming BBL to put their names forward for selection in the Sri Lanka series.”
Pat Howard, Cricket Austraila’s general manager of team performance, welcomed Langer’s appointment.
“He did a terrific job in the Caribbean in June when he stepped in for Darren Lehmann during the successful tri-series and so is already familiar with the working environment around the Australia team,” Howard said.
“He brings a wealth of experience as both a player and a coach and his record in helping the Perth Scorchers to a sustained level of success in the Big Bash League means he fits the bill in all ways,” he added.
Meanwhile, it will also be a good opportunity for Langer to consolidate his claim for the post of Australia’s head coach. The Test great has been tipped by many as the successor of Lehmann and a good performance against Sri Lanka might pave his way to take the top coaching job in the country.