Australia captain Pat Cummins insists there are “no cowards” in the Test team and that his players have not been distracted by former head coach Justin Langer’s inflammatory comments.
Langer reopened old wounds over his Cricket Australia resignation in an interview with BackChat Podcast, released last week, lashing out at unnamed “cowards” in the team who complained in the media about his intense coaching style last year.
Australian media reported that the interview had ignited a feud with the team, although Langer labelled the reports as “rubbish” and denied rumours of a rift with Cummins and the team.
“There’s no cowards in an Australian cricket team, not ever,” Cummins told reporters ahead of their two-Test series against West Indies, which begins in Perth on Wednesday.
“I think it’s disappointing sometimes the focus gets drawn to off-field issues but it hasn’t really affected our team. I think there’s no ill will to what he was trying to do and he clarified (his comments) afterwards.
“I think he had a think about it and clarified it, so thank him for that. But we’re really proud of the last 12 months, how we’ve fronted up, the way we’ve played, the way we’ve conducted ourselves. Players can certainly hold their heads high.”
What else did Langer say?
Langer reiterated in the podcast he had felt hard done by when he wasn’t offered a long-term contract extension after the team’s first Twenty20 World Cup title last year and a thumping victory in the Ashes, with the 52-year-old also responding to media reports of discontent in the dressing room during his time as coach.
“Everyone was being nice to my face, but I was reading about this stuff and half of it, I swear to God and on my kids’ lives, I could not believe that is what was making the papers,” Langer said in the podcast.
“A lot of journalists use the word ‘source’. I would say, change that word to ‘coward’. 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. I hate that.”
Langer said he had lost the support of some players, staff and the Cricket Australia board, although the governing body CEO Nick Hockley spoke out to “correct inaccuracies” in Langer’s comments.
“Regular formal and informal opportunities to provide and receive feedback took place throughout his tenure, which is consistent with a high-performance environment,” Hockley said.
“Following a comprehensive process, Justin was offered a short-term contract extension, which he rejected. I am disappointed by Justin’s comments unfairly criticising some of our players. The playing group are aware they have my full support.”