Justin Langer reflected on his team's slow over-rate during the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India, calling his side 'really slack' for the same. The head coach also made a sensational revelation, explaining how the absence of their team manager led to their over-rate struggles.
Australia were docked four World Test Championship points for being two overs behind in the Boxing Day Test against India. The points penalty allowed New Zealand to overtake Australia in the points table, with the Aussies finishing 0.3 percentage points behind New Zealand.
If Australia had kept their over-rate in check, they would have been preparing for the World Test Championship Final against India by virtue of finishing second. Justin Langer spoke to SEN, discussing how Gavin Dovey’s unavailability for the Boxing Day Test meant there was one person less to keep an eye on the over-rate. He said in this regard:
“This might be the silliest thing I've ever said. But our manager Gavin Dovey, he'd been away, he'd gone home for Christmas to be with his family. It wasn't until after the game that we realised our over-rate was down. Now, that's really slack on our behalf.”
Australia argued after the game that they were unaware of their slow over-rate. ICC’s Playing Conditions state that the third umpire should advise the bowling team on their over-rate 'every 30 minutes as a minimum', with the over-rate also displayed on the big screen during the game.
Sharing what went down in Australia’s dressing room after they found out about the penalty, Justin Langer admitted he was wary about how that could impact their World Test Championship campaign.
"I remember we were in the team room afterwards, and I spoke to Painey (skipper Tim Paine) and Dene Hills, our analyst, about it. I was a bit grumpy about it, and I thought 'imagine if this cost us the World Test Championship.' And I mentioned to the players afterwards that two overs down could cost us the World Test Championship," said Langer.
Australia head coach rues attitudinal problem
The slow over-rate meant Australia missed out on a place in the World Test Championship Final.
That came about after Australia were in pole position to qualify in the top two places for the majority of their WTC campaign. They had spent considerable time ranked as the no. 1 Test team in the world.
Langer lamented Australia’s error but vowed to learn from it and come back stronger in the next WTC cycle, saying in this regard:
"How often do you get docked points in Test cricket these days? Rarely. We had that in our control, that's an attitudinal thing. It's very disappointing, but the lesson is the things that we can control, we have to control. And we can't relax for a second in Test cricket."