Justin Langer has set the record straight about his feelings towards Australia's Test cricket stars after labelling reports that he is at war with national skipper Pat Cummins "utter rubbish". The former Aussie coach has been in the headlines this week after an explosive interview in which he slammed the anonymous "cowards" behind his eventual demise as Australia coach.
In his appearance on the Back Chat podcast, Langer insisted he was not an angry coach, and that players had misinterpreted his silence and reflection after losses. The 52-year-old praised former Test captain Tim Paine's feedback but claimed others, including Cummins and Aaron Finch, should have been up front earlier.
"I spoke to Pat Cummins. He said to me about five times, 'This might be brutally honest'," Langer recalled. "I said, 'Pat, there is 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.
“Everyone was being nice to my face but I was reading about this stuff, and half of it ... I could not believe that is 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 axe 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.”
Langer's comments came after it was revealed Cummins was hoping to mend relationships between the team and several former players - including Langer's ex-teammates - after substantial criticism was directed at players in the wake of the coach's departure.
However, Langer insists he has got no beef with Cummins or many of Australia's other Test stars after revealing that he's been in contact with many of them recently.
The former Aussie coach told 7 News Perth: “Ironically, I spoke to Patty on Monday, we had a long talk about how the team was going, how he’s going, how his family’s going. And some of this rubbish is complete and utter rubbish.
“I’ve got so much respect for Patty Cummins, I think he’s a brilliant player, I think he’s an outstanding human being. So any thought there’s war between Patty and I could not be further from the truth.
“There was sort of talk about relating the word coward with Pat Cummins. If you listen to the podcast, I was actually praising Pat, I was praising Finchy, I was praising Tim Paine for giving me the feedback. I was actually complimenting them, not criticising them as it’s come out. It turns into a bushfire, what do you do?”
Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley hit back at some of Langer's comments on Wednesday, refuting the suggestion that Langer had only limited opportunities to give and receive feedback from the governing body. Hockley also backed the current playing group against the criticism they had copped over the past year, believing much of it was unwarranted.
Aussie cricket icon Simon O'Donnell this week suggested that Langer risked burning one too many bridges if he keeps up his crusade against Cricket Australia. He warned that the fallout from Langer's recent comments about his resignation as coach could end up having long-term ramifications for his career and suggested he let go of the saga.
Justin Langer has 'never been happier'
However, Langer said his recent comments had given the false impression that he was still bitter about his exit from Cricket Australia. The 52-year-old insists that is not the case and that he still keeps in contact with several of Australia's Test stars, who he can't wait to watch in the upcoming West Indies series.
“Steve Smith rang me at lunchtime yesterday, we had a great talk, the vice-captain. Ironically two days before I got half a dozen birthday messages from all the boys. Nathan Lyon sent me a birthday message, Mitch Marsh, all the rest.
“I’ve been in touch with these guys ever since I stopped being in the team and I can’t wait for the Test match to start next week, and the reason I can’t wait is I haven’t seen them. I haven’t seen the boys since I finished in February.”
He continued: “I keep reading about, Langer’s got to let it go, he’s bitter and twisted - oh man. I’ve never been happier in my whole life. I feel really happy, the only thing I’m not happy about is what’s happened in the last few days - it just doesn’t make sense.
“I loved my four years of coaching Australia, it was brilliant. Didn’t end as I would’ve liked - that’s life, that’s the business, it’s a tough business. I’ve got fond memories.
“Those guys we’re talking about, I ate with them, I drank with them, I celebrated with them, we got through Covid together, we got through sandpaper together, we won the World Cup together, we won the Ashes together. They’re like my little brothers!”
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