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'Sticking up for my mates': Cummins explains why he wanted JL gone in brutally honest statement

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Expert
9th February, 2022
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Test captain Pat Cummins said he wanted Justin Langer removed as Australian coach because the team needed a change in coaching direction but also paid tribute to Langer for instilling a “better team culture and higher standards”.

Cummins, who issued a statement via Cricket Australia and then fronted the media on Wednesday afternoon, said he was appreciative of Langer’s efforts over the past four years and said the outgoing 51-year-old mentor had nothing to apologise for to the players about his famously intense style.

He also made a pointed comment in the direction of the numerous ex-players who rallied behind Langer, saying: “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.”

He openly admitted there were questions raised among the players about whether Langer, after delegating more and reducing his intensity in recent months, should be given another deal but when they concluded they didn’t think it was sustainable that they needed to make a change.

“The players will benefit from a more collaborative approach. A big theme for this summer has been being more calm, more composed. That’s been really clear in the feedback from players, support staff and Cricket Australia and I think that’s the direction we want to take the team. He was a perfect man for the times,” he said.

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“He tweaked his coaching style in the last six months and did a really, really good job but we think now is the right time for a different direction.

“It’s a matter of opinion but we think it’s the right one.”

Cummins added: “Justin has acknowledged that his style was intense. And it was. He has apologised to players and staff for his intensity. I think the apology was unnecessary.”

The skipper said although Langer’s intensity was not the issue for the players and the support staff, he reiterated his belief that a change was needed, which falls in line with CA’s decision to only offer the coach a six-month extension, triggering his resignation on the weekend.

“The question is: what is the best style of coaching for the future, given how the team has evolved?” Cummins said.

“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.”

He made it clear that he thought Langer should have seen the outcome on the horizon after extensive reviews over the past couple of years into all members of the dressing room.

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“JL at the end of it felt like he hadn’t been fairly treated. That’s not on and I hope we can learn from that,” Cummins said.

“I’d say I don’t think he should be surprised though. It’s been two years of evaluations. In our environment at Cricket Australia, I know it’s pretty boring but we get 360 reviews the whole time. We get our strengths and weaknesses poked, prodded. We’re always trying to learn from it so I think it’s become more public in the last week or two but I don’t think there’s any big surprise.

“We’ve had a few messages over the last few days, we’re all good.

“I’ve just got huge respect for the man. I love what he’s done, I owe him a lot. He’s been brilliant, not only for this team but me individually. He’s given me a lot of opportunities and backed me in a lot. That’s more or less what I passed on to him.”

Cummins takes his responsibility as captain seriously – “I live and breathe it” – and said he held no grudges towards the many former players who had been outspoken critics of his role in the saga.

However, he was far from impressed with former Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson labelling him “gutless” for not supporting Langer.

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“I can’t believe a fast bowler’s having a go at me,” he said with a smile in his media conference.

“Look, he’s just standing up for his mate, I absolutely disagree with what he said. He hasn’t reached out but that’s fine, he’s entitled to his opinion but I can hold my head high so I’m fine.”

He said he did not comment publicly on Langer’s contract situation before CA made its call because it would have put the team in an impossible decision.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

Head coach Justin Langer shakes hands with Pat Cummins of Australia after the match ended in a draw on day five of the Fourth Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 09, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

HERE IS HIS FULL STATEMENT

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“There has been much public comment since Justin Langer’s resignation as the Coach of the Australian Cricket team.

For good reason, I haven’t made public comment before today.

To speak about a decision, which was yet to be made and which is for Cricket Australia to make, would have put Cricket Australia and the team in an impossible position. I’d never do that.

I believe in respecting the sanctity of the change room and proper process.

Now that a decision has been made by Justin to resign and given his own public comments and others by Cricket Australia, I can provide some clarity.

Justin has acknowledged that his style was intense. And it was.

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.

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.

The question is: what is the best style of coaching for the future, given how the team has evolved?

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.

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.

Many former players have reached out to me and silently offered me their advice which is welcome.

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.”

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