SYDNEY: Justin Langer will coach Australia for three Twenty20s against Sri Lanka in February, officials said Friday, further cementing his status as Darren Lehmann’s eventual successor.

The former Test opener previously filled in for his ex-teammate on Australia’s one-day tour of the West Indies this year, and has got the nod again to replace Lehmann who will be in India preparing for a four-Test series.

Cricket Australia team performance manager Pat Howard said he was an easy pick.

“He did a terrific job in the Caribbean in June when he stepped in for Darren Lehmann during the successful tri-series and so is already familiar with the working environment around the Australia team,” he said.

“He brings a wealth of experience as both a player and a coach and his record in helping the Perth Scorchers to a sustained level of success in the Big Bash League means he fits the bill in all ways.”

Local reports said Langer beat a strong list of contenders to the role, including fellow Test greats Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, who were all believed to be interested.

While Lehmann has no plans to step away from the job in the foreseeable future, he has already anointed Langer as his potential replacement.

Langer is currently coaching Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield and the Perth Scorchers in the Twenty20 Big Bash League

“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with the national side in the Caribbean earlier this year and so I am excited and very grateful to get this opportunity to do it again,” he said.

“Twenty20 International cricket is the one format in which Australia is yet to win a global tournament so every chance we get to play it and develop our skills is very significant.

“That means these three matches will be hugely important.”

Prior to his Western Australia appointment, Langer, who played 105 Tests and scored more than 7,500 runs, worked as a specialist batting coach with the Australian team.

He had talks about the England coaching role last year, but decided against it with the job eventually going to fellow Australian Trevor Bayliss.

Australia take on Sri Lanka in Melbourne, Geelong and Adelaide on February 17, 19 and 22. – AFP