Pat Cummins has broken his silence following Justin Langer’s resignation, revealing why he believed it was the right time for him to go.
Australian Test captain Pat Cummins has broken his silence following Justin Langer’s highly-publicised resignation, revealing why he believed it was the right time for a changing of the guard.
Last week, Cricket Australia offered the 51-year-old West Australian just a six-month contract extension, prompting him to resign with immediate effect. Assistant coach Andrew McDonald was appointed interim head coach ahead of next month’s Pakistan tour.
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Cummins copped some criticism for not making his position clear leading up to Langer’s resignation, with several former players condemning the pace bowler for refusing to show support for his embattled coach. Ex-teammate Mitchell Johnson was the most scathing, calling the newly-appointed Test skipper “gutless”.
But the New South Welshman has released a statement ahead of Australia’s five-match T20 series against Sri Lanka, explaining the team needed a “new style of coaching and skill set”.
Cummins defended his decision not to speak earlier, suggesting it would have put his teammates and CA in an “impossible situation”.
He conceded that Langer’s coaching style was “intense”, but denied that players and support took issue with it, stressing that Langer had nothing to apologise for.
The 28-year-old also took a swipe at former players who have blamed the playing group for Langer’s departure, saying he will continue to stick up for his teammates throughout the transition process.
Pat Cummins’ full statement
“There has been much public comment since Justin Langer’s resignation as the Coach of the Australian Cricket team,” Cummins 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.
“I’m looking forward to speaking with the media today before training.”
Reaction to Cummins’ statement
The final few lines of Cummins’ statement resonated strongly with the Australian cricket community, with many believing the players have copped an unnecessary amount of criticism since Langer stepped down.
Cricket writer Melinda Farrell tweeted: “That’s one heck of a payoff line.”
The Age’s Daniel Brettig posted: “That final line is very much to the point.”
Code Sports’ Lachlan McKirdy tweeted: “I think it’s a pretty respectful statement considering all that’s gone on and good detail into the thoughts behind the decision. And it’s pretty clear he’s acting in the best interests of his team going forward. The sticking up for his mates line is very strong.”
Former Australian hockey player Georgie Parker posted: “We teach kids that winning isn’t everything … remember that when having a crack at Pat. Don’t get me wrong, Cricket Australia botched this whole thing, but the anger shown towards players who, quite frankly, are the only ones this affects, is remarkable.”
ABC sports broadcaster Brett McKay tweeted: “Cummins with one last ripping delivery for the summer.”
Former Australian batter Michael Bevan posted: “Good on Cummins for coming out and addressing the elephant in the room. For me it was never about sticking up for mates but having respect for a coach that was forced to resign when the team was ranked No 1 in Tests, No 3 in ODI and current T20 World champions.
“No player, coach or person would accept this treatment or believe it was fair and reasonable if they were placed in a similar circumstance with similar results. I am still unclear and confused as to how if one coach helps gets you to the above results they cannot continue.
“To do so. My major gripe being the next coach coming in knows he needs to toe the player line otherwise he is gone – this doesn’t seem beneficial to me. In any case my rants have finished. Aus has some good coaches to take over and very talented team — good luck to all.”
Speaking to media from Sydney Olympic Park on Wednesday afternoon, Cummins emphasised that Langer had done a superb job in revamping the culture of the national men’s cricket team.
“I think he tweaked his coaching style in the last few months and did a really good job, but we think now it’s time for a different direction,” he said.
“I think the players would benefit from a more collaborative approach … being calm, more composed.
“This change is right and it’s needed.”
Cummins also said that he disagreed with Johnson’s strongly-worded remarks in the media, but respected his opinion.
“He’s just standing up for his mate,” he said.
“My responsibility is to the team, it’s environment and Australian Cricket.
“I think I’m doing what’s best for Australian cricket when I’m making these decisions and giving that feedback.
“I’m sure people will have a difference of opinion, but that’s my opinion.”
Langer was appointed national men’s coach in the frenzied turmoil of Australian cricket’s darkest hour following the infamous ball-tampering saga of March 2018. He was tasked with restoring pride in the national team and despite producing mixed results, he left with Australia as the No. 1 ranked Test team, reigning T20 World Cup champions and a 4-0 Ashes triumph.
Test wicketkeeper Alex Carey and veteran batter Usman Khawaja spoke to media about Langer’s resignation this week, but Nathan Lyon and Marnus Labuschagne had their media opportunities cancelled.
CA chief executive Nick Hockley said in a statement: “Justin has been an outstanding coach of the Australian men’s team over the past four years.
“He has restored the trust in the team and his legacy is assured.
“We are extremely proud of his achievements since he took over in 2018, including the recent T20 World Cup victory and Ashes success.
“We are naturally disappointed Justin has decided against continuing as coach but respect his decision and wish him all the best in the future.
“I would like to sincerely thank Justin and also his family for all that they have given to Australian cricket over the past four years, for which we remain eternally grateful.”