'Stabbing him in the back': Ugly new twist in Justin Langer saga

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Pictured here, Australia coach Justin Langer and former Test opener Usman Khawaja at a training session.
Australia coach Justin Langer and former Test opener Usman Khawaja haven't always seen eye to eye. Pic: Getty

Former Australia Test batsman Usman Khawaja has weighed in on the messy Justin Langer coaching saga, after making explosive allegations that players have stabbed him in the back.

The former Test opener's intense management style has been a constant talking point of late, and was brought up by players in an external review earlier this year.

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That was addressed by Langer with players in June, while Cricket Australia officials are also reported to have met with senior players in recent days to talk through the situation.

White-ball captain Aaron Finch admitted the poor form of Australia's limited overs sides that amplified the situation, while Test captain Tim Paine reiterated his support of the embattled coach.

Langer's former Aussie batting partner Matthew Hayden took an angry swipe at Langer's detractors last week and said the recent reports he's read about the Australia coach were downright "disrespectful".

Khawaja - whose own relationship with Langer has been under the spotlight in the past - says it appears to him as if disgruntled players are "stabbing" the coach in the back by leaking grievances about his intense management style to the media.

“I think the more important and disappointing thing is the players haven’t stood up and chatted to JL about this a long time ago. Things are still coming out in the media,” he said on his official YouTube channel.

“How do you think JL feels? He probably feels like the guys in the team are stabbing him in the back. And that’s what it looks like.

“That’s why it’s so disappointing. It’s a really bad look and it’s something the group needs to sort out ASAP.”

“It’s not always 100 per cent the coach’s fault. The guys aren’t performing, the players have to take ownership at some stage,” he added.

Khawaja - who was dropped after the 2019 Ashes series but still hopes to represent Australia at Test level again - says he still believes Langer is the best man for the Australian coaching job.

The at-times prickly relationship between the pair was a focus of the Amazon documentary series, The Test, and despite many believing his hopes of representing Australia are doomed while Langer is at the helm, the classy Queensland batsman says he gets on well with the Aussie coach.

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“My relationship with Justin Langer is really good,” he said.

“I still talk to him. I still text him here and there until this day. And that’s because we have a lot of respect for each other. 

"Now people think I got dropped because I stood up to him and all these other things. It’s actually quite the opposite. I feel like I actually became closer with him and he actually gained my respect and I gained his respect because we had some really honest and open conversations together.

“One thing that keeps coming up with him is his emotions. The man wears his heart on his sleeve. He can be emotional. It’s probably his only downside. His greatest weakness is emotions because he rides the highs and rides the lows. But that’s only because he’s passionate.

“Unfortunately that’s the thing that is letting him down the most. But it comes from a very good place. And he knows it. He’s said he needs to improve.”

Matthew Hayden calls for player accountability

Australia has lost five straight T20 series and lost a home Test series to an understrength India last summer during the biosecurity bubble era.

However, Hayden said it was time for some of the players to be held accountable.

Seen here, former Aussie Test openers Matthew Hayden Justin Langer.
Matthew Hayden (pictured right) has defended Aussie coach Justin Langer (pictured left) after his future has been questioned this week. (Getty Images)

The 103-Test legend said he felt the 'team-first' mantra, instilled during the Alan Border era, was evaporating in an era where players hold multiple contracts.

He also took aim at CA for allowing IPL players skip the recent tours of West Indies and Bangladesh, asking how the coach could be judged when "seven assets" are missing.

"Right now, I think JL needs to get less zen-like and more dragging people to accountability," Hayden claimed.

"Not dissimilar to the opposition government in many ways.

"Because I think he has a fight on his hands with Jolimont St (Cricket Australia) and how it is they are controlling their assets.

"Because you as a coach, if you can't get your best team on the park, how are you going to judge Justin Langer?"

with agencies

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