The Ashes 2006-07 July 24, 2006

Langer defends Ashes friendships


Merv Hughes says the tough attitude of Allan Border has been lost © Getty Images

Justin Langer has rejected claims from the national selector Merv Hughes that the team is too friendly with its English rivals heading into the Ashes. Hughes believes Australia's close relationships with some players may have contributed to their shock 2-1 defeat last year.

Hughes was surprised the Hampshire team-mates Shane Warne and Kevin Pietersen exchanged jokes and shared beers after play in the last series while the Australians also enjoyed the company of Andrew Flintoff. And he insisted Australia must again be indoctrinated with the ruthless, hard-nosed attitude towards England that was pioneered by Allan Border in 1989.

"It was all too matey for me," Hughes said in the Daily Telegraph of last year's Ashes loss. "Imagine if Shane Warne and Kevin Pietersen didn't have that friendship. Who knows what would have happened? We lost the attitude towards the English that we once had, the attitude that was introduced by Allan Border."

But Langer, who is currently playing county cricket for Somerset, said Hughes was wide of the mark. "Imagine an Ashes contest being played like a village game, that's the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard," he told Sky Sports. "We played good, hard cricket on the field and had a beer off it. That's how it should be." The first Test starts on November 23 in Brisbane.