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Bailey and Khawaja call for an end to speculation on Langer

Both men believe criticism of the players is wide of the mark

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
08-Feb-2022
Australia's chairman of selectors George Bailey doesn't subscribe to the theory that a small group of players and staff were key to Justin Langer's departure as head coach while Usman Khawaja believes Test captain Pat Cummins or limited-overs captain Aaron Finch needs to answer some questions to end the speculation.
The current Australian players and staff have been conspicuous in their collective silence in the days following Langer's resignation on Saturday morning.
Alex Carey and Khawaja were the first players to do any media appearances, with both men speaking in the lead-up to the restart of the Sheffield Shield season on Friday, while Bailey spoke following the announcement of Australia's 18-man Test squad to tour Pakistan.
Bailey said he was consulted by Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley and head of national teams Ben Oliver about Langer's position but he did not believe the accusations that a "faceless few" individuals had been key to the coach not getting a long-term contract were accurate.
"I was consulted," Bailey said. "I'm led to believe that it was a very, very broad consultation. It went wide. Again, I've been consulted back since the middle of last year," Bailey said.
"I don't subscribe to the fact that there was individuals that were key to making the decision."
Bailey also thought Langer's apology in his letter of resignation was unnecessary.
"In JL's letter that he apologised for being too intense, I mean, I don't think that's something he had to apologise for," Bailey said. "One if he felt that way, but two, I don't think he was too intense."
A number of ex-Australia players, many of them Langer's former teammates, have rebuked the current playing group in the media following the coach's resignation. Bailey encouraged many of them to reach out if they had any concerns about the inner workings of the Australian team.
"It's hard as a past player to keep your finger completely on the pulse of what's going on within the team," Bailey said. "A lot of their opinions can be based on hearsay and second and third-hand information. So I would always encourage those players to reach out and get a good understanding of what's happening."
Khawaja said he wasn't consulted on the coach's contract and noted he had not been around the team during the India Test series last summer and the West Indies and Bangladesh limited-overs tours last winter where issues between Langer and the players had bubbled to the surface. But he urged Cummins and Finch to address the issue.
"I think at some stage one of the captains, probably Finchy or Patty will probably have to stand up and answer some questions just to get rid of all the speculation that's going around and to just put an end to it all," Khawaja said.
Both Khawaja and Bailey said they had contacted Langer since his resignation. Both praised the departed coach for bringing humility back to Australia's men's cricket team.
"One thing that I do love JL for, what I feel he bought back into Australia was humility," Khawaja said. "I felt like he brought humility back in the Australian cricket team. You talk about legacy, for me, that's one thing that he's left behind. Because I know what we were playing like before he was coach, and I know what we were playing like after he became coach. So I haven't said that to him yet. So I'm saying it to you guys."
Bailey added a similar sentiment recalling Langer's first day on the job.
"Funnily enough through a bit of a quirk of fate, and I can't remember why it was, but I was actually present in Brisbane the day that JL first spoke to the Australian group when he took on the role," Bailey said.
"I sort of feel like I was there for day one of the journey despite coming on in this role halfway through. But I vividly remember his two points that day. He wanted the team to earn respect with Australians and he wanted to develop great cricketers and great people. And I think he has absolutely done that. I think the team have done that. JL has done that. The staff around the team have done that."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo