Justin Langer’s Messy Firing As Coach Continues To Haunt Australian Cricket

Much like the specter of bitter politicians aggrieved at being knifed in the back by colleagues, the messy Justin Langer saga continues to cast a shadow over Australian cricket while threatening to destabilize the national men’s team amid a transition into a new era.

Langer, who was a key part of Australia’s heyday as a hard-nosed batter who overcame adversity to become a legendary opener, resigned in February ending a tumultuous six-month period which paralyzed the national cricket governing body, while creating a gulf between the current and golden generation of Australian cricketers.

As the calendar flips into the Test summer, when the Australian public switches into cricket mode, Langer has lit a fuse after an extraordinary candid interview where he attacked anonymous “cowards” that leaked against him and criticized captains Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch for a lack of transparency.

“I spoke to Pat Cummins. He said to me about five times, ‘This might be brutally honest.’ I said, ‘Pat, there’s nothing brutal about your feedback. What is brutal is I’m hearing it behind my back through the media or through sources.’ No one’s telling me. Tell me,” Langer told the BackChat Podcast.

“Everyone was being nice to my face but I was reading about this stuff and half of it…I could not believe what was making the papers.

“A lot of journalists use the word ‘source’. I would say, change that word to ‘coward’. A coward says, not a source. Because what do you mean a source says? They’ve either got an ax to grind with someone and they won’t come and say it to your face, or they’re just leaking stuff for their own agenda.

“I hate that.”

Since his departure, Langer has kept busy mostly through the lucrative corporate speaking circuit, being on the board of an Australian football team and private coaching where he continues to mentor several cricketers. But he’s kept public appearances to a minimum until now ahead of joining the commentary team of the television broadcast for the upcoming slate of matches starting with the opening Test between Australia and West Indies held in, coincidentally, Perth, where Langer hails from and is something of a favorite son.

It’s becoming increasingly popular to state that Australia’s national men’s team is on the nose with the public underlined by disappointing crowds to start the season albeit before its peak period of December and January.

Anecdotally, there does appear to be some merit for a myriad of reasons although it’s hard to know how much Langer, who holds considerable gravitas as a straight-shooter and disciplinarian, being hung out to dry has to do with perhaps an erosion of public trust .

Undoubtedly, however, this scandal dominating the conversation a week before the peak season is undesirable for Cricket Australia and looms as a major distraction for Australia coming off a disastrous T20 World Cup title defense on home soil.

The crowds at Perth Stadium could be instructive with public sentiment in the west coast of Australia still firmly on Langer’s side.

“When I finished with the Australian cricket team I would have got messages that make you cry from 90 percent of the players,” Langer said. “I’m very self aware. My greatest weakness, without a doubt, is that I hate losing. I did as a player, I did as a coach.

“When we lose I go quiet, because I’m actually a thinker. I’m curious, I wonder how we can get better, so I go very quiet.

“I don’t rant and rave or get angry, I go very quiet. Then people when I go quiet, because I’m meant to be the tough guy, right … they go ‘he’s not approachable’. That’s just after the game. Give me 24 hours to absorb it all and approach it and work out how we can get better.”

Langer claimed he only presented to the Cricket Australia board three times during his four-year tenure, which he deemed as “craziness”. “When you know people haven’t got your back there is no lonelier place in the world,” he said. “When you do know people have got your back, there’s no more powerful place in the world.”

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley hit back and claimed Langer’s version of events were filled with inaccuracies. “Regular formal and informal opportunities to provide and receive feedback took place throughout his tenure, which is consistent with a high performance environment,” he said.

“Following a comprehensive process, Justin was offered a short-term contract extension, which he rejected. I am disappointed by Justin’s comments unfairly criticizing some of our players. The playing group are aware they have my full support.”

But whether the Australian public is firmly behind their national team remains to be seen as this ugly generational war continues to rage.


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