Australian Test skipper Pat Cummins has issued a statement clarifying his stand on former head coach Justin Langer, saying the 51-year-old ex-opener’s “intensity was not the issue for the players and the support staff”, but the cricketers wanted “a new style of coaching and skill set” going forward.
Langer stepped down as Australia head coach recently following Cricket Australia (CA) offering him only a six-month contract renewal after June 2022. According to reports, Langer’s position as coach had become shaky in August last year after players and support staff had made their dislike known of his “volatile micromanagement style”.
On Wednesday Cummins, who led Australia to a 4-0 Ashes win at home issued a statement saying, the players had learnt to deal with Langer’s “intense” and “unique” coaching methods, adding that the former head coach “drove a better team culture and higher team standards”.
“Justin has acknowledged that his style was intense. And it was,” Cummins’ statement read. “He has apologised to players and staff for his intensity. I think the apology was unnecessary. Because the players were ok with JL’s intensity.
“It came from a good place — his fierce love of Australia and the baggy green — something which has served Australian cricket well for three decades. It’s what makes him a legend of the sport. And Justin’s intensity drove a better team culture and higher team standards. These are significant Justin Langer legacies. And on behalf of the players, I thank Justin,” said Cummins.
“More than that, we owe him a lot and Justin will be a welcome face in the change room in the future. So, his intensity was not the issue for the players and the support staff.”
Cummins said it was a brave decision by Cricket Australia to transition to a new coach given the team had won the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and an Ashes series over the last six months.
“The question is: what is the best style of coaching for the future, given how the team has evolved?” the statement continued. “We have been very well schooled in how to play cricket in the right way — in the correct Australian way. We understand the importance of always playing to the highest ethical standards. And the players need no motivation as I’ve never played with more motivated cricketers.
“To be better players for Australia, from this solid foundation, we need a new style of coaching and skill set. This was the feedback the players gave to Cricket Australia. And it’s the feedback I understand support staff also gave. We welcome that Cricket Australia invited the players and staff to contribute to CA’s evaluation.
“I add that as professional sportspeople we would have accepted any decision CA were to make because that’s what professionals do. CA have made a brave call to transition, given the team has been winning,” added Cummins.
Cummins said that the players were the “custodians” of the game and they had a big responsibility when donning Australia colours.
“Finally, we are custodians of cricket, with one very big thing in common: our first duty is to Australian cricket, which is bigger than any one of us. I take this responsibility seriously. I live and breathe it. We also have a duty to our mates.”
Cummins also revealed that he had spoken to several former cricketers who had blamed the current Australian players for not standing up in support of their coach.
“Many former players have reached out to me and silently offered me their advice which is welcome,” Cummins added. “Some others have spoken in the media — which is also welcome and comes from a love of the game and their support of a mate. To all past players, I want to say this: Just as you have always stuck up for your mates, I’m sticking up for mine.”