Justin Langer’s appointment as Australia men’s head coach has left Western Australia and Perth Scorchers on the hunt for a replacement – or replacements – to carry on the former Test player’s rich success in the west.
Langer did a brilliant job turning around the fortunes of WA cricket in more than five years as Warriors and Scorchers head coach, a period in which he led the Scorchers to three KFC BBL titles and the Warriors to two JLT One-Day Cups alongside two Sheffield Shield final appearances.
His ascension to the top job came earlier than planned – originally the 47-year-old had been earmarked for the role when Darren Lehmann’s contract expired in 2019, before the events in Cape Town brought forward the timeline.
Speaking to media on Thursday, WACA chief executive Christina Matthews said they hoped to appoint a new coach within five weeks – but emphasised there would be no rush to replace Langer.
“We’re in no rush, our structure is well set up so when the players come in for pre-season, that will be taken by our assistant coaches and our strength and development people, so if it doesn’t come together easily we’ve got some time to play with,” Matthews said.
“For us it’s not about replacing Justin, we cannot replace Justin.
“It’s about looking at our coaching structure and high performance set up and going, ‘how can we make it better? What sort of people to we need to bring in, what person do we need to bring in to take it to another level?’”
Among the candidates are current WA and Scorchers assistant Kade Harvey, recently retired Scorchers skipper Adam Voges, Thunder director of cricket Mike Hussey, current IPL and CPL coach Simon Katich and WA development coach Geoff Marsh.
“We’ve got two or three strong candidates internally, but it’s about looking at our structures and how we want to move forward,” Matthews said.
“Adam Voges we started in our coaching pathway last year. He’s certainly one who wants to make a career of coaching and he’s someone we’ll be talking to on a couple of levels, with his experience within our program and also his coaching future.
“Hussey has so many different balls in the air in terms of his professional career, but as a WA great his name will be somewhere.
“Simon Katich would be a great addition but Simon’s had a lot of offers to coach Big Bash sides and he’s not been able to do that, he’s got heavy commitments at the moment with Kolkata and the Caribbean Premier League as well as commentary duties … so it comes down to whether he’s open to a conversation.”
Matthews also confirmed the state body isn’t ruling out splitting the WA and Scorchers roles. Langer’s departure leaves Andrew McDonald (Victoria, Renegades) as the only person currently coaching both a men’s state and Big Bash team.
“That’s up for discussion, that’s part of the review,” she said.
“The single coach model has worked very well for us, but also the schedule of those competitions means it’s very hard for one person to do it all and plan across three competitions.
“It gives us a chance to look at that and ask if it is still the best model for us.”.
Here is a list of potential candidates to fill the big shoes left by Langer in Western Australia:
Kade Harvey (WA and Scorchers assistant)
Harvey is seen as a front-runner for the role and has been a full-time member of the Scorchers and WA coaching staff since 2017. Prior to that, the former WA allrounder had worked as a part-time assistant with the Scorchers since BBL|02, while he also heads up the state’s male pace-bowling program and is head coach of WA’s male Under-17’s team. The two-time Olly Cooley Medal winner had a decorated playing career for WA, playing 27 first class matches and 86 List A matches before retiring in 2005, while he also served as a state selector from 2007-2010.
Adam Voges (Retired from BBL in February)
Voges retired from state cricket at the end of the 2016-17 summer and called time on his 20-over career at the end of BBL|07, but the veteran had already started making his transition into coaching with WA during his final season of cricket. With limited experience he may not yet be ready to take on the senior job, but he is a proven leader with vast captaincy experience and a history of success.
Simon Katich (Kolkata Knight Riders assistant, Trinbago head coach)
Katich already has coaching commitments with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and Trinbago in the Caribbean Premier League, but could be a contender for a stand-alone Scorchers role. He has no shortage of 20-over coaching experience, but it remains to be seen whether he will be willing to give up commentary work over the summer to take on a Big Bash role, as flagged by Matthews above.
Mike Hussey (Sydney Thunder director of cricket)
The former Australia and WA player has plenty of knowledge and experience and is the current recruiter and list manager at the Sydney Thunder, a role he moved into following his BBL retirement. But like Katich, he also has an already packed schedule that also includes commentary commitments.
Geoff Marsh (WA development coach)
Marsh has vast experience at both international and domestic level and has achieved great success, while he’s proved a key resource at WA as development coach. But it remains to be seen whether he is interested in the roles, while he also has a conflict of interest as the father of WA and Scorchers players Shaun and Mitch.