Justin Langer: Australia coach sees value in behind-closed-doors games

Australia coach Justin Langer supports the idea of playing cricket behind closed doors when safe to do so, as it will have “great value” to the public.

Langer’s side beat New Zealand at an empty Sydney Cricket Ground on 13 March before the coronavirus pandemic halted the series and cricket worldwide.

And he would be happy to play in an empty stadium again.

“When you started off playing underage cricket, there’s no crowds there,” Langer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Maybe your mum and dad came and watched, or your brother and sister were bored and playing on the swings somewhere else.

“You played it because you loved playing the game, you loved playing with your mates and you loved playing the game.

“The Australian cricket team are so fortunate to play in front of big crowds every time we play.

“But for the love of the game, and for still being able to entertain people through TV sets or radio, then there’s value in that.

  • Listen to more from Langer on BBC Radio 5 Live’s The Guest List
  • Cricket behind closed doors could help – Morgan

“Yes it’s different, but we’ll never, ever, ever take for granted how lucky we are, ever again. We are so lucky in what we do.”

The series against New Zealand was called off after the first one-day international in Sydney, and Langer acknowledged that it has been a new experience getting used to having time off with his family.

“I say this with absolute respect and compassion for everyone who’s suffering at the moment, but it’s bit like nirvana for me,” he said.

“I’m at home with the family. I get home-cooked dinners, I sleep in my own bed, I can go into my own garden, I see my kids every single day, and usually in my life, I’m away 10 months of the year.

“Frankly, I hope it makes a change to our whole society. We’ve got so busy, haven’t we? We’ve got so many incidents of mental health problems in Australia now. We’ve got drug misuse, we’ve got domestic violence, we’ve got all sorts of things that go on.

“Hopefully this is a time for everyone to stop and take a breath and find some balance – not just in the life of a sportsperson, but in every sector in the world.

“So hopefully we’ll all find a bit of balance, and there’ll be some silver linings that come out of this terrible crisis that’s affecting everyone in the world at the moment.”

While all sport schedules are subject to change because of the pandemic, Australia’s next scheduled assignments are a two-Test series in Bangladesh in mid-June, followed by limited-overs internationals in Scotland and England between late June and mid-July.

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