Star Aussie Test batsman Marnus Labuschagne has dispelled any notion of bad blood with coach Justin Langer, after finding himself at the centre of a bizarre recent story.
Langer has been forced to defend himself over reports that his no-nonsense and at times confronting leadership style has rubbed players up the wrong way within the Australian camp.
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The Sydney Morning Herald reported that some senior cricketers were annoyed with Langer's micro-management and interactions with the bowlers, and found assistant coach Andrew McDonald more approachable.
Langer himself hit back at the criticism, saying “leadership isn’t a popularity contest” and disputed suggestions his relationships with players was on the rocks.
He did admit that he had to reprimand a player for trying to bring a toasted sandwich onto the ground, during the Test series against India.
The Aussie coach later revealed that Labuschagne was the player in question, with the story gaining notoriety in the media.
However, Labuschagne says he harbours no hard feelings or resentment towards the coach, and insists Langer's style is beneficial for the Australian team.
"I love JL. I love what he brings to the team," Labuschange said.
"There's always more pressure when you're not winning games.
"We have to make sure we're really focused when we come back as a Test squad ... stay really close to each other as a group and a coaching staff.
"That we keep supporting each other ... that will help unite us and front up as the best possible Test team."
With Cricket Australia (CA) this week calling the tour of South Africa off because of Covid-19 concerns, Labuschagne is hoping that an Indian Premier League call-up will help him fill a long gap between Tests.
The postponement of the South Africa tour means Australia's next Test might not come until the start of the next home summer, when they host England.
Langer's team will miss this year's world Test championship final, unless results go their way during the India-England series.
"Very disappointing to not be playing Test cricket for so long," Labuschagne said.
"I hope (there is potential to play sooner). If not, you need to make sure you get yourself ready for the Ashes. There's no bigger series to get up for."
Aussie batsman eyeing off IPL auction
Labuschagne, whose Big Bash League stint ended when Perth Scorchers defeated Brisbane Heat on Thursday night, revealed he will enter the upcoming IPL auction.
The gifted right-hander - ranked third on the International Cricket Council's Test batting charts - also has a contract with English side Glamorgan that runs until the end of the 2022 season.
"The IPL is a great competition and personally I'd love to be part of it," Labuschagne said.
"Throw your name in the hat and see what happens.
"I've still got my Glamorgan deal. Have to work through that now there is no South Africa tour - see what the possibilities are, what the safety concerns with England are."
Labuschagne, who has spent much of the past six months in biosecurity bubbles of varying severity, plans on having a week off before linking up with Queensland's squad.
"But it (usually) gets to three days and I want a hit," he said.
The latest version of the rejigged Sheffield Shield schedule has Queensland's season resuming in Tasmania on February 17.
Labuschagne is not expected to be catapulted into state captaincy, ahead of Usman Khawaja, despite a push from Cricket Australia as it searches for Test captain Tim Paine's likely successor.
"I just try to be the best leader I can be," he said.
"If I can do that and it does develop into a formal leadership role, then so be it.
"But for me it's just about making sure I can help the team out as much as I can and be a leader."
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