Pat Cummins admitted players were ‘walking on eggshells’ during Justin Langer’s tenure, while Usman Khawaja claimed some of his teammates were ‘afraid’ of the former Australian coach.
The bombshell allegations are revealed in the second season of The Test, Amazon’s behind-the-scenes documentary on the Aussie cricket team, which premieres on January 13.
Usman Khawaja has revealed some Australian players were afraid of Justin Langer
Langer featured prominently during the first season but resigned in acrimonious circumstances halfway through the filming of the four-part sequel.
The former Australian opener left his role in February, just months after coaching Australia to T20 World Cup and Ashes glory.
Langer parted ways with Cricket Australia after he was offered a contract to remain in charge only until the end of the 2022 T20 World Cup, rather than the long-term deal he wanted.
His position had been subject of debate since the summer of 2021, when Australia lost a Test series at home against India and reports of discontent with his methods began to surface.
In the documentary, Cummins lifts the lid on the toll Langer’s demanding nature had taken on the team.
The new series of The Test, Amazon’s behind-the-scenes documentary on the Aussie cricket team, is released on January 13
‘Players and staff really crave consistency,’ he says in The Test.
‘Over the last couple of years, there were times when the environment just wasn’t that. Some people felt like they were walking on eggshells.
‘The players wanted to create their own environment and it’s us taking responsibility for the team.’
While crediting Langer for ‘bringing humility back into the Australian cricket team’ following the Sandpapergate scandal that spelt the end of Steve Smith as captain, Khawaja is even more blunt in his assessment of the former coach.
Pat Cummins (left) admitted some of the players ‘were walking on eggshells’ around Langer
‘There was plenty of guys who don’t speak up, who don’t talk, and were afraid of JL [Justin Langer],’ the opener says in the documentary.
‘That’s the truth.’
Nathan Lyon, meanwhile, conceded Langer’s coaching style resembled an emotional rollercoaster that had taken a lot out of some of the players.
‘I’ve always said you can never criticise someone who is extremely passionate in what they do, and that’s exactly what JL is,’ the off-spinner said.
Langer led Australia to T20 World Cup glory and to retain the Ashes last year
The former Australian opener resigned from his role as Australia’s head coach in February
‘Did I struggle with some of the ups and downs? Yeah. Probably the biggest feedback from myself was just emotional levels [from] JL.’
Two months ago, Langer reignited his war of words with Cricket Australia as he slammed the ‘cowards’ with ‘an axe to grind’ within the organisation, who allegedly advocated for his dismissal in spite of his success and reputation with the players.
Langer’s claims were strongly refuted by Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley, who bluntly spoke of his ‘disappointment’ at the comments.
The former coach’s acrimonious exit sparked rumours of a rift between the coach and several players, including Test and ODI captain Pat Cummins.
Nathan Lyon (left) compared Langer’s coaching style to an ’emotional rollercoaster’
Langer, however, insisted he didn’t have any issues with the fast bowler, a feeling reciprocated by Cummins.
‘There’s no cowards in an Australian cricket team, not ever,’ he said ahead of the series against the West Indies in November.
‘I think it’s disappointing sometimes the focus gets drawn to off-field issues but it hasn’t really affected our team. I think there’s no ill will to what he [Langer] was trying to do and he clarified [his comments] afterwards.’
Aussie players have been vocal in praising the more relaxed style of Langer’s successor Andrew McDonald, relishing the opportunity to express themselves with more freedom.
Mitchell Starc (right) has credited Cummins (left) and new coach Andrew McDonald for allowing the Australian team to adopt a more relaxed approach
‘I felt like certainly since Andrew McDonald came in it’s been probably a little bit more like that compared to prior,’ Marnus Labuschagne told News Corp.
Mitchell Starc struck a similar tone and noted Cummins’ deserved praise for the shift in approach.
‘It’s been a great environment for a long time now over the last couple of years and I think that’s continued now with Andrew [McDonald] and Pat [Cummins] in charge,’ the Aussie quick said.
‘Just the freedom to express yourselves as players and people off the field. It’s shown on the field as a group. To see the smiles on faces and the enjoyment of the group and each other’s success.
‘The performance we’ve put on over a number of series now speaks to that.’