Perth Scorchers’ Twenty20 success underpinned by coach Justin Langer’s ‘no asshole rule’
Justin Langer’s office is full of books.
Among the subjects: legendary Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson, Apple founder Steve Jobs, meditation and philosophy.
The Scorchers’ coach cannot put a finger on how many he reads each year, but there is one book that stands out.
It is strategically placed front and centre on his desk so you cannot miss it as you walk in. It is called The No Asshole Rule, and it defines the philosophy underpinning the Scorchers’ success.
“It is a reminder that we don’t want knobs in our organisation,” Langer explained.
“I think when you get good people, with good character, they usually come good and perform under pressure for you.
“We talk about character over cover drives. That usually means traits like loyalty and discipline, integrity and physical and mental toughness.
“All culture is is good behaviour, and if you have got good people you have got good behaviour, haven’t you.”
The turning point that changed a team
Before Langer took over as Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) coach in 2012, cricket in the state was at a low point.
It was clear strong leadership was required and Langer, revered in his home state after scoring 7,696 runs in 105 Tests for Australia, was anointed the man to drag the state out of the cricketing doldrums.
The turning point came just a handful of matches into Langer’s tenure.
In a Sheffield Shield game against South Australia at Adelaide Oval, Ashton Agar and Michael Hogan put on 68 runs for the final wicket to help the Warriors claim a remarkable last-gasp victory.
It meant a WA team which was at the bottom of the ladder earlier in the season could make the Shield final if it defeated Queensland a few days later.
That night the players and coaches went out for a team dinner in Adelaide.
The squad was scheduled to fly home to Perth early the next day to begin preparing for the crucial clash with the Bulls.
But instead of heading to bed at the hotel after dinner as Langer did, a group of players — including Mike Hussey and Adam Voges — decided to head out to continue the celebrations.
“They had a massive night,” Langer said.
“I remember sitting at the front of the bus [to the airport]and it didn’t feel right. I thought we had all gone home about 10:30 or 11:00pm.”
“Vogesy and Michael Hussey and some of these guys are some of my good mates, but I knew they had made the wrong choice by having a massive night out.
“Instead of just letting it go, I asked them to get their running shoes, shorts and t-shirts on and run up and down a grass hill in Adelaide for about 40 minutes.
“They were worried they were going to miss the flight but I didn’t give a rat’s because we had to draw a line in the sand.”
The ‘best side in the world’
That line in the sand was the start of something special.
A lot of those players are part of the Scorchers squad today that some say is the best domestic Twenty20 side in the world.
Perth has won three of the last four Big Bash titles and is well on track for another tilt this season.
It has all been built off the back of setting standards, clear communication, and making the most of success.
“We have only got three team rules now — one of them is common sense, the other is keep things simple, and the other one is respect alcohol.”