England v Australia, 4th Test, Headingley, 3rd day August 9, 2009

Langer 'shattered' by leaked dossier


Justin Langer bitterly regrets the fact that a dossier he compiled on the England team has been leaked to the press. The document, originally emailed to Australia's coach Tim Nielsen and distributed among the team, was published in the Sunday Telegraph and contained a number of critical insights into England's players and the county system.

"I'm shattered and really upset," Langer told Cricinfo. "That was an email meant only for Tim Nielsen. It was private correspondence and has now found its way into the public domain. It's a joke. Everyone who knows me knows it's not my go to bag anyone. But behind closed doors everyone is going to have an opinion and this was a message that was meant for behind closed doors. It's disappointing."

In the document, Langer wrote that James Anderson was "a bit of a pussy" when placed under pressure, and described the captaincy of Andrew Strauss as "conservative". He also claimed England's players "rarely believe in themselves,'' variously describing them as "flat", "shallow" and "lazy". Michael Vaughan, also writing in the Sunday Telegraph, concurred with many of Langer's conclusions.

"If I had have known that this would end up in the public domain I would have put things differently," Langer said. "I definitely wouldn't have used a word like pussy, but it was only to describe James Anderson's body language. If you read it all the way through, you would see that a lot of what I said about guys like Anderson, Strauss and Bopara was complimentary. They're excellent players, and I was just trying to offer up a few ideas as to how Australia might get under their skins."

Although Langer did state that Anderson was "hugely improved" as a cricketer, and that Strauss was "a very solid character and good bloke", he also said that he expected a negative reaction from some quarters after the publication of his comments, particularly seeing as he currently lives in England while acting as Somerset's captain. "I guess it will [make life harder in England]," he said. "I just spoke to Tim and he was disappointed that it came out like this. But I'm the one who has got to live here. What backlash there is, I guess time will tell."

Both Strauss and Ricky Ponting downplayed the significance of the dossier. "We're not in the habit of reading the press as a general rule, so I don't think we're going to change that right now," Strauss said. "As a team you're always looking for outside people to give you a view on the players you're playing against. The Aussies have obviously got him to do that. It's not of great interest to do that. When you cross that white line anything that's written on paper is pretty irrelevant.

"If you look at the cricket we've played over the last nine months or so I would [dispute Langer's dossier] and it's certainly not something we want to see from an England team. If that's something that's happened in the past it's something we intend to iron out. I think there's a lot of strength or character in the side and we're going to need it next week. It's as simple as that."

Ponting confirmed his squad had read Langer's email, but denied it had been a central element to their plan-making ahead of the Ashes series. "I've played as much against these guys as Justin has so I pretty much knew a lot of the personalities and the way a lot of the guys play," Ponting said.

"I'll admit I got given a copy of it and I had a brief read through it all, but I knew most of it anyway. It was probably more for the younger guys in the group to get a bit of a feel for some of their players. I'm sure they all read every single word of the document, but that was it. We haven't sat down in meetings after that and talked about it."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Him on August 11, 2009, 15:08 GMT

    Pity for Langer, but I doubt there'll be any untoward repercussions for him outside the boundary ropes. And he may actually have done the English supporters a favour for the final test - there's a pretty good chance every English player will come out scrapping like bulldogs, for national pride and personal honour. Especially big-hearted performers like Flintoff, Collingwood, Strauss and Sidebottom (who really should get a go if Flintoff can't make it). Punter's team will quite likely retain the Ashes, but I expect a massive fight from Strauss & co.

  • Tony on August 11, 2009, 10:30 GMT

    the leaked dossier will provide a rallying point for the english players. A bit like in the T20 match against, pakistan i think, in which the players were booed onto the field. Reading or hearing about ones inadequacies as a sportsman will always be an aggravation and will only really fire up England. Add that to the humimliation of the last test, the return of flintoff and a winner takes all ashes stake, i hope this will be the strongest and most determined england performance this series. On the other hand Australia carry the momentum with mitch seeming to have rediscovered himself, and Clarke in some great form. hopefully this match will be remembered for all the right reasons

  • django on August 11, 2009, 5:18 GMT

    As an Australian I dont really like what has happened here. The fault lies with Tim Nielsen the coach who has leaked this document on purpose without JL's approval. The contents of the dossier was pretty lightweight IMO. If we lose this next test I would like to think that Tim should look for a career change. The last thing we need is the Poms with something to get them more motivated. We are in serious danger of over hyping our performance in the last test. Teams always bounce back after defeats like that and the Oval will be no different. Kapsy, wake up mate all cricketers are bullies and sledgers these days but only because we showed them how to do it properly.

  • Jairam on August 11, 2009, 0:57 GMT

    Former Aussie cricketers are getting it spot on. Justin Langer's comments on the languorous English cricketers are just in time. Warnie correctly pointed out that Bopara and Bell would be weak links. Aussies are not nice guys but then "nice guys finish last'. I do hope though that the good people of Somerset will show some good old-fashioned West Country gumption and sock it to Mr. Langer, in private of-course.

  • Gaurav on August 10, 2009, 21:34 GMT

    I hope Anderson takes this as inspiration to show the Aussies what he's made of. The way he bowled in the 2nd test was amazing. A bit more of that and Langer's comments will take on a whole new meaning, albeit in an entirely different context.

    Similarly, Strauss needs to stop following the textbook circa 1899. Maybe this will make him think along those lines.

    Others- notably Bopara and Collingwood, need to show their mettle or find other careers. I am thoroughly disappointed by them.

    And I agree with the sentiment that this was a premeditated leak to hammer the poms into diffidence.

  • Arron on August 10, 2009, 18:26 GMT

    Slighlty less embarrassing than having our bowling plans leaked during the mauling in Melbourne at Christmas 2006.

    Remember what Nasser Hussain said:

    "What about the Australian bowling plans then?"

    To which the reply was:

    "Yeah, Troy Cooley, mate!"

    Michael Vaughan's response was spot on. Least said soonest mended.

  • Alex on August 10, 2009, 16:09 GMT

    So, now that the Leeds match has ended with a mauling at the hands of the Aussies in less than HALF the allotted time for the whole game, exactly what part of JL's assessment is factually incorrect?

  • Rob on August 10, 2009, 14:46 GMT

    Don't think it's anything most of England's supporters couldn't imagine anyway - which makes it a total non-story.

    Curiously, it reflects somewhat poorly on the fact that an ex-Aussie player, of considerable regard, felt the urge to supply curiously amateur psycholgical character profiles to the Australian Test coach.

    Next week England need to burst out of the traps at The Oval like eleven starving snarling dogs, show 100% British sporting aggression and play like it's the final five days of their lives.

    Pussy-cats...We'll see who the lions are next week...then they'll have put this sorry story properly to bed.

  • William on August 10, 2009, 13:59 GMT

    Langer is a good bloke and I think he is embarrassed by this. His 'dossier' was not an attack on the England players as people but more a comment on their cricketing weaknesses. However, the problem comes with the way his comments are sensationalised by the Australian media in particular. It all helps to stereotype the English as weak peope generally. I hope the English team use Langer's words as inspiration to win the final test.

  • Martin on August 10, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    Langer has the absolute right - and probably patriotic duty - to share his views with the tourists. The disappointment is that there's nothing in there that Aussies don't take as read anyway, and many of us Poms believe. Had he published these views we might have regarded it as fraightfully poor form, especially as he's coining in English money for Somerset. But he didn't.

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