Paine backs Langer after 'robust discussions'

Sydney (AFP) –


Test skipper Tim Paine Friday backed embattled Australian coach Justin Langer after "robust discussions" among senior players amid dressing-room leaks and reports of discontent over his management style.

Langer has come under a barrage of scrutiny in the wake of consecutive white-ball series losses to the West Indies and Bangladesh, with friction over his intense leadership and mood swings again resurfacing.

It culminated with Malcolm Conn, former media manager for the team, writing a scathing article in The Sydney Morning Herald this week criticising his "erratic" behaviour.

Paine told national sports radio network SEN he held an emergency meeting with vice-captain Pat Cummins, limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch and Langer.

"We've had some really robust conversations amongst our leaders in the last few days and we're really looking forward to the next six months with JL," he said.

"It was important that myself, Aaron Finch, Pat Cummins and the leaders of Australian cricket got around him, discussed things that needed to be discussed, and then got around him and supported him and looked to move forward.

"There's no doubt the week has been difficult for him," he added.

Langer took over in the aftermath of the notorious "Sandpaper-gate" ball-tampering tour of South Africa in 2018 and has been widely praised for rebuilding the culture of Australian cricket.

But dressing-room unrest has never been far away and he was forced to address negative feedback after their home Test series loss to India this year, admitting he had been "grumpy and intense" most of his life.

The spotlight again fell on him after reports of a heated argument with a Cricket Australia journalist in Bangladesh last week in front of players and staff.

Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley issued a statement Wednesday defending Langer, and Paine said it was a shame that the team's failings were being pinned entirely on the coach.

"That's certainly not the case," he said.

"We haven't lived up to our own standards on the field, we haven't won enough games of cricket and that's pretty much put us all under pressure."

In his article, Conn said he respected Langer but quickly learned to stay out of his way, adding that he never knew whether a question would be met "with an answer or an explosion".

He also detailed Langer's "sudden obsession with things that... didn't seem to matter".