Justin Langer has launched a strong defence against the narrative that he hated players or that they hated him during his time as Australian cricket coach.
Justin Langer has declared he is unlikely to ever coach again.
The man who has lived and breathed international cricket for 30 years doesn’t believe he will ever return to the coalface after the scarring impact his demise as Australian coach has left on him and his family.
It is a striking admission from a great of the game who until recently viewed himself as a career coach.
Langer was at his emotional and engaging best when he appeared in front of a live audience to record the Cricket Etc. Podcast with esteemed The Australian cricket writers Peter Lalor and Gideon Haigh on the eve of the Sydney Test.
For the sake of his family, a broken hearted Langer doesn’t believe he will ever return to coaching in any capacity, despite being just 52 years of age.
“I don’t think I’ll coach again. No, I don’t think I’ll coach again,” Langer told Cricket Etc.
“The craziness is – and it’s really strange in cricket – if you think about a lot of the other codes, the best coaches are a lot older. It doesn’t make sense in cricket.
“I say I’m not going to coach again, but I reckon I’m 10 years off being the best coach I could be. I honestly reckon – because things don’t shock you, things don’t surprise you (the more experienced you get).”
Within weeks of getting ousted as Australian coach, Langer had a call from England Cricket Board chief Andrew Strauss to probe his interest in coaching England.
Langer could have taken a post coaching the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League this summer if he wanted it, but he was not mentally ready.
There was always a feeling that Langer would eventually recalibrate and return to the career that runs through his veins and that he’s dedicated himself to since his retirement as a player.
Langer excelled as a domestic coach at Western Australia and the Perth Scorchers and even if his life as an international coach was done after his exit from the Australian team – lower levels of the game will be poorer for a man of his passion and dedication not being involved.
Unlike previous podcast interviews he has given, there was no sense of bitterness or being unable to let go in Langer’s chat with Lalor and Haigh.
But the scale of Langer’s own personal trauma, and the toll it took on his family, was laid bare.
“The hardest thing about my last 12 months, and I say it hand on heart, was there was this narrative that I hated the players or the players hated me back. That literally broke my heart,” Langer said.
“Everything I’ve done for literally the whole time – when I was in Western Australia coaching the Scorchers, when I was with Phil Hughes when I first started and with Steve Smith, I came up with them as kids (when I was) an assistant coach (was because I loved the players)
“Some of the players may not have liked my style. I am serious, I can be intense. But they know how much I loved them and they loved me back.
“I kept reading this narrative and it literally broke my heart.
“That’s why when you ask if I’ll be a better coach next time, for my family I am not sure I can go through that again.”
Langer refutes claims he has fallen out with the current Australian playing group.
“I’ve got some very, very special relationships,” Langer said.
“If you had listened to the media over the last 12 months I had no relationships with the players, but it literally could not be further from the truth. I’ve got a lot of very tight bonds with the players and I cherish them for the rest of my life.
“ … Most of my players I’ve coached in the last 12 years, they feel like my sons.
“I don’t have the same relationships with all of them.”
Langer is a warts and all, heart on the sleeve coach who gave every part of himself to Australian cricket.
It’s clear he doesn’t believe he is ready to be that vulnerable again after the fallout of the past 12 months.
“Every time I read it now they don’t talk about my results as coach, they just talk about the coach who fell out with his players and that kills me,” Langer said.
“I’m sure a lot of people in this room are parents. I am absolutely certain my four daughters … a lot of the times they thought they didn’t agree with my decisions, (but) I’m keeping them accountable, I’m making sure I’m keeping them safe, I’m looking after them and I have their best interests at heart.
“My kids love me unconditionally. As a coach sometimes you have to do that. You’ve got to pull them into line. You have to have the bigger picture in mind.
“Some people aren’t going to like that and because they’re not your kids they’re going to say ‘well he’s disposable’.
“That’s fine. That’s life. But that’s the killer.”
Originally published as Justin Langer defends himself against ‘narrative that I hated players’ in new podcast
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