Steve Smith speaks out amid Justin Langer coaching storm
Steve Smith has thrown his support behind Justin Langer after the Australia coach came under fire from within the inner sanctum about his approach to the job.
A damning report last week revealed some within the Australian dressing room have become fed up with Langer’s intensity and headmaster-like approach to leading the team, putting the 50-year-old under pressure to change or lose the trust of his players.
Marnus Labuschagne publicly praised Langer during the week — even after being outed as the player told not to take a toasted sandwich out onto the field during a Test match — and now Smith has weighed in.
The star batsman won the Allan Border Medal as Australia’s best male cricketer over the past 12 months — the third time he’s received the honour — and said he expects Langer to still be the boss when next summer’s Ashes roll around.
Smith was absent for the first year of Langer’s tenure because of his 12-month suspension for ball tampering, but believes the former Test opener still has plenty to offer after three years in the hot seat.
“Absolutely. I think he has done a terrific job over the last few years. Obviously, I wasn’t there the first year but, since I have been, I think he has done a great job,” Smith said.
“Like I said, he always wants to get better. That’s all you can ask of anyone in the set-up, whether it be a player or a coach. As long as you are striving to improve every day, then that’s all you can ask.
“One thing that hasn’t been spoken about (is) how tough a job it is to coach an international team, particularly in the circumstances we have been. We have been in bubbles for long periods of time but Justin is always working hard, trying to improve and get better.
“We have had conversations over the last two weeks since we have finished and he is always trying to get better.”
Smith has full faith in Langer.Source:Getty Images
The dressing room leak about concerns over his management style didn’t sit well with Langer, who sent a text in the team WhatsApp group urging players to stay united and confront him directly with any concerns, rather than go to the press.
That message was subsequently leaked, flying in the face of his calls to keep things in-house.
“The only disappointing thing from the weekend’s reports was there was discussion things were coming from within the camp,” Langer told the Cricket Et Cetera podcast during the week.
“You know me, I’m a pretty simple bloke and let’s get this on the record: Yeah I am intense, yeah I am serious, I am.
“Do I get grumpy sometimes? Yeah I get grumpy sometimes. I’m not perfect that’s for sure, but I’m pretty good at some of the things I do and you just don’t like it when you feel people — through managers or players, whatever — I would rather they came straight to me.
“That’s the Australian way as I know it, let’s talk through it, let’s go through it and work things out.”
Langer admitted this was a “wake-up call” to consider how he can adapt to the ever-changing demands of international cricket coaching, where multiple formats, touring life, the chopping and changing of players and now, whittling away the hours in bio-secure bubbles, make the job even more of a juggling act than it’s ever been before.
“I’m not going to ignore this, of course, and absolutely it is a wake-up call,” Langer told ESPN Cricinfo. “Whenever I finish this coaching career I hope I’m still calling myself a novice coach … I’ll see this criticism as a great gift in a few weeks or months.
“My greatest mentors in life are the people who told me the truth and were toughest on me, and I’ve always needed that honest feedback. I might not enjoy it at the time, but it is so, so valuable.”
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