Former Australian men’s coach Justin Langer had a “long talk” with national captain Pat Cummins on Monday and called a suggestion he was at war with his former players “utter rubbish”.
Langer’s relationship with the players whom he led to retaining the Ashes in England in 2019 and T20 World Cup glory was back in the spotlight after an explosive interview the sacked coach did more than a month ago that was released via CODE Sports this week.
In the interview, Langer was scathing of those inside the Australian team who he believed were leaking against him and called them “cowards” for not giving him face-to-face feedback.
He also spoke specifically about conversations with Cummins and the feedback he was receiving, complaining that it was coming from the media rather than internally at times.
It comes as Langer gets set to enter the commentary box for the upcoming Test series with the West Indies and he told Channel 7’s Perth news on Thursday night that there was no rift between himself, Cummins or the playing group.
“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 some of this rubbish is complete and utter rubbish,” Langer said.
“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 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. I was actually complimenting them, not criticising them as it’s come out. It turns into a bushfire, what do you do?”
Langer also said he’d spoken to Steve Smith and other players since the interview was released and he couldn’t wait to see them in Perth for next week’s first Test.
“We (Cummins and I) texted last night,” Langer said on Thursday.
“Steve Smith rang me at lunchtime yesterday, we had a great talk, the vice-captain. Ironically, two days before I got half a dozen birthday messages from all the boys. Nathan Lyon sent me a birthday message, Mitch Marsh, all 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 haven’t seen the boys since I finished in February.”
Langer was adamant he wasn’t “bitter and twisted” about being forced out of his job, having rejected the offer of a short extension before Andrew McDonald took control.
“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. 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,” he said.
“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. 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!”