Cricket

Cricket Australia responded to Justin Langer’s claims as fallout from manager’s departure erupts

A war of words has broken out between Cricket Australia and Justin Langer after CEO Nick Hockley rejected the former manager’s criticism and moved to defend the senior players.

Langer drew front- and back-page headlines on Wednesday when he lashed out at referees for his February dismissal, while accusing the players of not coming clean with him early enough.

The former coach also claimed that most players supported him, while calling sources who leaked concerns about his intense nature to the media “cowards” with agendas.

Talking with him reciprocal conversation podcast, Langer praised former test captain Tim Paine’s comments, but stated that others, including Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch, should have been in front sooner.

“I talked to Pat Cummins. He told me about five times, ‘This could be brutally honest,'” Langer recalled. “I told him, ‘Pat, there’s nothing brutal about your comments. What’s brutal is that I’m hearing it behind my back through the media or from sources.’

“No one tells me. Tell me. People say I’m very intense, but they confuse intensity with honesty.”

The drama coincides with concerns of a rift between current and former players over Langer’s departure, centering on whether the players should have supported the coach.

Langer insisted that he was not an angry coach and that the players had misinterpreted his silence and reflection after the losses.

He also stated that there was no riot against him beyond some loud voices, and was adamant that he deserved an extension of more than six months after the successes of the T20 World Cup and Ashes.

“The hardest thing for me of all was getting the feedback [and] I did something about it,” Langer said. “We won the T20 World Cup, we won the Ashes. We were number 1 in the world… and I’ve still been fired. You can’t give feedback to someone, [they] do something about it, and then [for] let it happen.”

Having largely maintained an eight-month silence on Langer’s departure, Hockley broke it on Wednesday when he said he wanted to “correct inaccuracies” in the former coach’s comments.

“Regular formal and informal opportunities to give and receive feedback took place during his tenure, which is consistent with a high performance environment,” Hockley said. “After a comprehensive process, Justin was offered a short-term contract extension, which he declined.

“I am disappointed by Justin’s comments unfairly criticizing some of our players. The player group knows he has my full support.”

The drama comes a week after Australia’s first Test against the West Indies in Perth, where there is significant local support for Langer.

The former manager will also enter the commentary box for the first time with Sevens, meaning the ghosts of his tenure are likely to linger through the summer.

Langer’s comments are unlikely to go down well with current players, who could be interviewed by their former coach during in-season broadcasts.

Some people close to the team have claimed that last summer’s success came after Langer took a backseat after midyear comments, with assistants taking over.

There were signs of feedback as early as the 2018 Boxing Day test, after which Usman Khawaja can be seen in The proof documentary saying Langer’s players were “bullied” and “walking on eggshells”.

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