Cricket boss’ big admission on Langer drama

WA cricket chief Christina Matthews has lashed Cricket Australia’s handling of Justin Langer‘s exit, saying it played a part in a poor reception the Test team received in Perth last summer.

Last summer’s Test against the West Indies and Perth’s Optus Stadium was met with a terribly low attendance on the back of the controversial ending to Langer’s tenure as Australia’s coach.

Hopes are higher this time around, given both Australia’s success in the Ashes and at the World Cup and a stronger opponent in Pakistan, with the first Test in Perth dubbed ‘The West Test’ in a bid to ramp up excitement.

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Matthews, who is set to leave her post at the end of the summer, is well aware of why crowd numbers suffered as a result of Langer’s ousting.

“We knew that part of the issue was getting people to see that Justin’s over it and loves the Australian team, and wants them to do well and wants them to be in Western Australia,” Matthews told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Justin was different because Justin is so loved here, been so successful here, he was very successful as an Australian coach, dragging the reputation of the team out of a very low base, and I don’t think Justin or anybody has been angry at the Australian team for that, but they were angry about the way he was treated.

“Instead of just pulling off the Band-Aid and making a decision, it was dragged out and I think people here felt he wasn’t treated with the respect he deserves. I don’t have any problem with the fact they didn’t want him to coach, but I did have a problem with the way they managed it, and I think that didn’t sit well with the people of WA.”

Australian star Travis Head, who was the match-winner in the World Cup final last month, suggested the reception did not go unnoticed last summer by the players themselves.

”There’s no doubt when it comes on the calendar we hope for a slightly better reception than some of the players got last time,” he said.

“There’s different reasons behind that. I understand that. I come from South Australia where they are very passionate. I look forward to the support from the crowd and I think we’ll get that.

“I think Pat had a mixed reception here after Mitch’s comments. I think with what we’ve done in the World Cup and what we’ve been able to achieve over the year, I’m looking forward to the Test match.”

Australia’s summer of cricket will officially get underway in WA this week when Optus Stadium hosts the first Test between Pakistan and Australia starting Thursday afternoon.

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