Australian cricket great Michael Hussey has warned Justin Langer’s explosive remarks could distract some of the playing group ahead of the Test summer, acknowledging the disgruntled ex-coach is still hurting because he considered himself a “father figure”.
Langer stepped down as national coach in February after Cricket Australia offered him a six-month contract extension following reports of player unrest within the changeroom.
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In a revealing and insightful interview with the BackChat PodcastsLanger attacked anonymous “cowards” that leaked information to the media, taking aim at the CA board for his unceremonious sacking.
The 52-year-old claimed Australian captains Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch failed to provide direct feedback about the playing group’s grievances with his intense coaching style.
Langer’s remarks sparked a war of wordswith CA boss Nick Hockley bluntly rejecting the former coach’s claims and throwing his support behind the playing group.
The furore comes one week out from Australia’s first Test match against the West Indies, which gets underway at Perth Stadium on Wednesday.
Former Test batter and Fox Cricket commentator Hussey, who played alongside Langer at international and domestic level, believes athletes handle off-field drama differently, expecting some players to cope with the outside noise better than others.
“Some guys it will upset,” Hussey told news.com.au.
“Some guys read all the press and take it all in, and other guys just completely block it out altogether.
“I was someone that took no notice of any media when I was playing. It’s hard to filter everything out, but I tried to see as little headlines as possible.
“I didn’t read any newspapers, but there’s other guys who are the opposite, that like to know what’s going on. Some people like to use it for motivation.
“I know Michael Clarke used to read all the papers and often use criticism as motivation.
“Everyone will sort of handle it in their own way. I don’t know if they’ll talk about it as a team, but I’d say for the coaching staff, the general message would be, ‘Ok, let’s just concentrate on our preparation and concentrate on our cricket’.
“They’ll try and block it out as best as they possibly can.”
Langer briefly served as Hussey’s coach following his retirement from Test cricket in 2013, mentoring the Perth Scorchers and Western Australia while the left-hander plied his trade at domestic level.
“He’s passionate, there’s no question about that,” Hussey said of Langer.
“He cares so much about the team. He almost sees his players as sons, he loves them that much, and sometimes, you need to speak sternly to your sons. That’s the way it goes as a dad, if you see yourself as that father figure.
“He’s very passionate about his job as well. He loved the Australian cricket team.
“It’s obviously still hurting him a fair bit with the way it all sort of played out, and he’s upset about it.”
Hussey acknowledged that Langer deserved praise for helping revive the Australian team’s public image after replacing Darren Lehman as national coach following the infamous ball-tampering saga in 2018
Australia won 15 of its 27 Tests under Langer’s guidance, lifting the T20 World Cup trophy in 2021 and securing a 4-0 Ashes triumph last summer.
“The team they’re trying to move on, they’re trying to look forward from that Justin Langer was,” Hussey said.
“He still needs to be given a lot of credit for the job that he did in helping the Aussie team gain a lot of that respect back.”
Meanwhile, the West Indies are currently taking part in a four-day contest against the Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra ahead of the two-Test series against Australia.
On Wednesday, Matthew Renshaw and Marcus Harris combined for a 134-run opening partnership before the Prime Minister’s XI lost 7/107 in the evening.
The Australian side was 9/297 at stumps on day one, with Antiguan paceman Alzarri Joseph claiming 3/52 in 18.3 overs.
The day-night fixture has given the tourists an opportunity to become familiar with the pink Kookaburra ahead of the Adelaide Test, which will be played under lights.
Although the West Indies boast a formidable pace attack, their unproven batters could struggle against the experienced Australian bowling quartet.
The West Indies have not won a Test match in Australia since 1997, before Australian all-rounder Cameron Green was born.
Hussey joins a star-studded commentary team at Fox Cricket, the only place to watch every ball of the upcoming Test series ad-break free, available on Foxtel and Kayo Sports.