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‘Just as you have always stuck up for your mates, I’m sticking up for mine’ – Pat Cummins responds to backlash after Justin Langer’s departure

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Australia Test captain Pat Cummins has issued a statement following Justin Langer’s resignation, thanking the former head coach while explaining that his team “need a new style of coaching and skill set”.

Cummins has come under scrutiny from several ex-Australia players who have hit out at him and Cricket Australia for Langer’s departure. After months of speculation over his future and reports highlighting tensions between the coach and players, Langer quit the role he’d occupied for four years last week after he was offered a six-month contract extension.

In a lengthy statement released on Wednesday, Cummins spoke publicly for the first time on the departure of Langer.

“There has been much public comment since Justin Langer’s resignation as the coach of the Australian cricket team,” he said. “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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