Justin Langer says he has spoken frequently with the likes of Pat Cummins and Steve Smith since turning down the short-term contract offer put to him earlier this year. The former Australian cricket coach's headline-grabbing interview earlier this week has sparked many discussions about what Langer thinks of the current state of Australian cricket.
The 52-year-old expanded on the saga that saw him walk away from the head coaching job amid rumours of his relationship with the players being tense. Langer slammed those rumours in an interview with the Back Chat podcast, labelling those who he believed had spoken behind his back 'cowards'.
In a subsequent interview published on Friday, Langer sought to clarify that he was not directing that description towards Cummins or any other players, insisting that any talk of bad blood between the two was 'utter rubbish'.
Langer said he was enjoying life after leaving the coaching job behind, and was able to enjoy the success he achieved with the team - principally the T20 World Cup win, an Ashes series win as well as Australia's return to the top of the Test rankings.
Former teammate Michael Hussey is concerned Langer might have erred in airing some of his grievances, despite the former coach maintaining he had no hard feelings. He has warned players not be to distracted by the renewed saga ahead of the three-Test series against the West Indies.
Hussey also speculated players simply wanted to move on from the saga, particularly in light of their underwhelming performance at the T20 World Cup recently.
“(Langer’s) obviously still upset about how it all went down, and maybe it could’ve been handled a better from a Cricket Australia perspective," Hussey said. “My sense is the players have been pretty quiet on it all. They’ve sorted moved on, they just want to move on.
“There’s no point making it a distraction for them. They can’t afford to make that a distraction for them. They’re going to get asked about it but they’re just going to have to focus on their preparation for the Test.”
Nevertheless, he admitted that his choice to knock back the six-month extension offered by Cricket Australia had not been the way he'd envisaged his time in the job ending. Langer insisted though, that he would always be proud of what the team had achieved, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” he said.
“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!”
Justin Langer insists relationship with players remains strong
Langer was particularly frustrated that his comments about anonymous sources discussing him in the media had been interpreted as a shot at players.
He had stated that he was frustrated that some feedback wasn't as forthcoming as he might have liked, but was steadfast in saying he was praising the likes of Cummins and former ODI captain Aaron Finch for their honesty.
“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,” Langer said.
“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?
“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.”
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.
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