Justin Langer has revealed why he opted against being interviewed for the second series of The Test as current players weighed in on the former coach’s dramatic exit.
Langer’s departure will be a central element of the behind-the-scenes documentary, to be released on Prime Video on Friday, offering an insight into how players reacted to the news.
David Warner, for example, branded Cricket Australia’s decision to only offer Langer a six-month contract a “kick in the face” and he was obviously not the only one who felt that way.
Former Test captain Tim Paine was also highly critical of the short contract in his autobiography, describing it as “embarrassing”, “unprofessional” and “a disgrace”.
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While Langer was afforded the opportunity to respond to it all in the documentary series, he instead decided against being interviewed.
Now Langer has explained that decision to The Sydney Morning Herald, while also revealing whether he will still sit down to watch the series when it is released.
“I was never interviewed for it and that was a choice,” Langer said.
“We discussed it and realised this documentary was a lot more specifically going to be about the players. I thought it was fair. It was a strong feeling this one was going to be more about the players’ perspective.
“I’m very interested to see how it’s presented. I’m hopeful there is respect shown for everyone, not just for me. You go into these docos with a lot of faith in people. I might watch it a bit, just the first episode or so, just to make sure it’s portrayed respectfully and decently.”
Langer told The Herald that he had no last say over the final cut so that the product was “presented respectfully and fairly”.
“You’re going to see a few of the quotes come out,” he added.
“I haven’t seen the documentary. I haven’t seen one second of it. If there are negative connotations, people tend to go to that. If people think it’s all negative, that’s crazy.”
Langer’s exit at the end of last summer came after concerns were raised surrounding his intense coaching style, something which is also addressed in the series.
Pat Cummins said that Langer was “brilliant when we needed him in those initial years” but also conceded in the first episode that some players were “walking on eggshells” at times.
Usman Khawaja, meanwhile, was quoted in the series saying: “There was plenty of guys who don’t speak up, who don’t talk, and were afraid of JL”.
“That’s the truth,” he added.
Nathan Lyon admitted he struggled at the times with he “ups and downs” that came with playing under a coach like Langer.
But for all the critical feedback there was plenty of positives too, with Steve Smith crediting Langer for leaving the team in a “better place” than when he started.
“I genuinely believe that JL brought humility back into the Australian cricket team,” added Khawaja.
Even still, Langer told The Herald that Warner was right in declaring in the series that the former coach “lost a fair few players” and crucially, “probably the wrong players”.
“That’s usually how it works,” Langer said.
“Davey is right. You lose a few players or people don’t like the way you go about your business, and it makes it hard. That’s also part of being a head coach. One thing I’ve learnt in life is if you try and please everyone, you please no one.
“Of course, there’s not a head coach in the history of the world who every player loves.”
But in saying that, Langer hit back at suggestions he has a fractured relationship with the playing group to this day, declaring it “not true”.
“The truth is, on my kids’ lives, 90 per cent of the players I’m still in touch with,” he said.
“I have been for 10 months. Every time we see each other, we give each other a hug. It’s like I was still the coach.
“When I saw the players (while commentating), it was no stress. I knew it wouldn’t be. There was this big narrative that we hated each other. It’s just not true.”
Originally published as ‘Lost a fair few players’: Justin Langer admits to ‘hard’ truth, explains documentary absence