Australia's cricket coach Justin Langer speaks to the media during a press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Thursday, January 10, 2019. Langer has strongly denied speculation selectors have an underlying issue with Glenn Maxwell's personality. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Australia's cricket coach Justin Langer speaks to the media during a press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Thursday, January 10, 2019. Langer has strongly denied speculation selectors have an underlying issue with Glenn Maxwell's personality. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Sorry Justin, but that wasn’t a blow-up

A worrying but largely unexplored sidebar to the inability of the Australia Test cricket team to play hardball against India is the recent performance of its coach Justin Langer.

Langer found it necessary to apologise to journalists after - as described in one headline - "firing up" and "attacking" a reporter at a media conference.

If what we saw in that exchange was Langer "firing up" then it's no wonder our Test side is so meek and mild.

As someone who has witnessed my fair share of sporting coaches spitting the dummy - and been on the receiving end myself more than once - I would have to say it was one of the most pathetic blow-ups in sporting history.

It all happened when the aptly named journalist Tom Decent politely questioned Langer about conflicting reports that Glenn Maxwell had passed up a county cricket contract after being promised a spot in the Test side.

"Are you certain that's what happened?" Langer answered.

"Are you certain that's what happened?"

When Decent repeated the question, Langer replied, "Did it happen? You're telling me it did happen - did it happen? I'm asking, did it happen?"

Decent put the question a third time.

"I've got zero knowledge of that," Langer said, adding "Careless whispers, eh?"

Decent said, "Thank you".

Langer, with a broad smile, answered, "No worries", but it soon became obvious that he was indeed very worried.

Asked an unrelated question by another reporter he was distracted, interrupting to go back to Decent.

"Sorry for getting grumpy," he said.

"I don't like getting grumpy but there's just so many stories that go around about so much stuff, you know. Oh mate."

Addressing the room as a whole he then said, "Sorry everyone. I didn't mean to get grumpy."

Then: "We can talk about it after, but the truth is a beautiful thing …"

Now I know we're trying to ditch the old "win at all costs" mantra and paint ourselves as the nice guys of world cricket but if that was Langer in full battle mode no wonder the Aussie team surrendered to India with barely a whimper.

If Langer wants to set a good example to his players he should study some of the great coaching blow-ups of history.

Sir Alex Ferguson once told a reporter "I don't like you. I've never liked you" and was known to simply walk out of media conferences if asked a question that didn't please him.

Former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, now working in Belgium, was another partial to the walkout, but not before unleashing on journalists, such as the time he called one "an ostrich" and asked, "Are you flexible enough to get your head in the sand? My suspicion is no.

"To ask that question you're either silly or absolutely stupid. Sorry son, you're daft. Don't go that crap with me."

NFL coach Matt Patricia, a man noted for his paunch, unkempt beard, cap worn backwards and sloppy fashion sense once refused to answer a question until the journalist sat up straight.

Closer to home we had the legendary farewell media conference from Gus Gould after his final game as Origin coach in 2004.

"I don't deserve the s**t youse f***ing give me," he told reporters.

"Not one word of it."

And then there is the great grand-daddy of them all, US baseball manager Hal McRae of the Kansas City Royals who completely lost it in 1993, screaming at journalists as he swept their tape-recorders off the table and on to the floor, "I'm sick and tired of you asking stupid ass questions every ****ing night."

Which is probably what Justin Langer wanted to say, but he was just too … er, decent.

 

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