Justin Langer has tried to put an end to talk of a feud with Australian skipper Pat Cummins by labelling claims they were at war as “complete and utter rubbish”.
Langer got on the front foot to hose down reports that he was furious with Cummins following the captain’s reluctance to give him feedback about his coaching style and that media leaks had undermined his position heading into the final few months of his contract last summer when it was up for renewal.
The firestorm ignited earlier in the week when Langer’s comments on the BackChat podcast received national media attention, his first in-depth interview about his messy, drawn-out exit from the national coach’s role nine months ago when he quit after being offered a short-term extension.
“Seriously I’ve been blown away by the last few days,” Langer said on Thursday in an interview with Channel Seven.
“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 then some of this rubbish is complete and utter rubbish.
“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 that 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. It was magic. I was actually complimenting them, not criticising them as it’s come out. It turns into a bushfire, what do you do?”
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In the podcast, when asked about Cummins’ feedback, Langer recalled: “He said to me about five times, ‘This might be brutally honest.’ I said, ‘Pat, there is nothing brutal about your feedback. What is brutal is I’m hearing it behind my back through the media or through sources’. No one’s telling me. Tell me,” he said. “People say that I’m very intense, but they’re mistaking intensity with honesty.”
Langer said he had exchanged texts with Cummins on Wednesday night to clear the air and that he was looking forward to reuniting with team members when they fly into Perth for next Wednesday’s Test against the West Indies.
“We texted last night. He’d been at a Christmas party with his family,” Langer told Seven.
“Steve Smith rang me at lunchtime yesterday, we had a great talk, the vice-captain. Again ironically, two days before I got half a dozen birthday messages from all the boys. Nathan Lyon sent me a birthday message, Mitch Marsh, the rest.
“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 have not seen the boys since I finished in February.”
As for suggestions he needs to move on, Langer denied he was holding onto the past.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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. But 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.”
Langer will be part of Channel Seven’s commentary team this summer for the two Tests against the Windies and three more against South Africa.