Usman Khawaja has said that Justin Langer‘s emotional swings are his “great weakness” but he will feel like the players are “stabbing him in the back” after a dramatic week where the coach’s position came under even greater scrutiny.
Tensions between Langer and his players came to a head with Cricket Australia holding emergency talks between senior executives and players to try and map a way forward ahead of the T20 World Cup and Ashes.
It appeared agreement had been reached for everyone to work together, at least until Langer’s contract expires next year, but events have shed light on the fraught atmosphere within the squad.
“How do you think JL feels? He probably feels like the guys in the team are stabbing him in the back and that’s what it looks like and that’s why it’s so disappointing,” Khawaja said on his YouTube channel. “It’s actually a really bad look. This is something the group needs to sort out ASAP.
“It’s not always the coaches. The guys aren’t performing, the players need to take ownership at some stage. It’s not one person so there needs to be some sort of perspective put around this.
“He [Langer] is a very passionate person. Loves Australian cricket, wants the best for everyone, wants to only succeed. He’s driven by winning, driven by winning the right way and all the things he brought after sandpapergate were focused on those things.
“One thing that keeps coming up is his emotions. Yes, the man wears his heart on his sleeve. He can be very emotional. It’s probably his one downside, his greatest weakness is his emotion. He rides the highs and rides the lows but it’s only because he is passionate. Unfortunately, it’s probably the one thing that’s letting him down the most but it comes from a very good place. He knows it, he knows he needs to improve, he’s said it in the media, I’ve chatted to him.”
The relationship between Khawaja and Langer was one of the centerpieces of The Test documentary on Amazon which followed the men’s team in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in 2018 and 2019. Early on in Langer’s tenure, Khawaja spoke out about how the squad was intimidated by him and “walking on eggshells.”
Khawaja was dropped from the side midway through the 2019 Ashes but said that he was able to build a stronger relationship with Langer after speaking his mind.
“People have seen the Amazon Test series, Uzzie is out of the team because of Justin Langer – let me stop it right there, my relationship with Justin Langer is really good,” he said. “I still talk to him, still text him till this day because we have a lot of respect for each other.
“People thought I got dropped because I stood up to him, it’s actually the opposite, I actually got closer – he gained my respect and I gained his because we had some really honest and open conversations.”
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.