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Pat Cummins responds to Mitchell Johnson ‘gutless’ claim over Justin Langer resignation

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Pat Cummins has responded to Mitchell Johnson after his former teammate called him “gutless” for his treatment of ex-coach Justin Langer.

Pat Cummins says he “absolutely disagrees” with Mitchell Johnson calling him “gutless” over the way the Australian Test captain handled the lead-up to Justin Langer’s resignation as coach.

Johnson, a former teammate of Cummins, slammed his fellow fast bowler in a scathing newspaper column on the weekend for failing to publicly endorse Langer or ask outright to change coaches as speculation mounted about the Aussie legend’s future.

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“Pat Cummins has been lauded as some type of cricketing saint since his elevation to the top job this summer. Cummins might have delivered with the ball during the Ashes series, but he has failed his first big test as captain pretty miserably,” Johnson wrote in a column for The West Australian.

“Cummins holds a lot of power and must have been central to what’s happened. He’s clearly had an agenda to get in a coach he wants. His recent interviews have been gutless by not respecting his coach when he could have been upfront from the start.”

Cummins released a statement on Wednesday making it clear how much the team respects Langer, but also explaining why he felt it was time for a change at the top.

The New South Welshman then fronted the media later in the afternoon to further clarify his position. He was asked by reporters about Johnson’s attack on his character and revealed the left-armer had not reached out to him to clear the air.

“I can’t believe a fast bowler’s having a go at me,” Cummins laughed. “He’s just standing up for his mates.

“I absolutely disagree with what he said.

“He hasn’t reached out, but that’s fine. He’s entitled to his opinion, he’s standing up for his mate.

“But I can hold my head high so I’m fine.”

Cummins emphasised that Langer had done a superb job in revamping the culture of the national men’s cricket team but a change was needed as he leads his side into the future.

“I think he tweaked his coaching style in the last few months and did a really good job, but we think now it’s time for a different direction,” Cummins said.

“I think the players would benefit from a more collaborative approach … being calm, more composed.

“This change is right and it’s needed.”

Langer resigned on the weekend after Cricket Australia only offered him a six-month extension to his contract, which was due to expire in the middle of this year.

Leaks from the dressing room over the past 12 months revealed players were unhappy with Langer’s intense management style and mood swings. Crisis meetings between CA and senior players Cummins, Aaron Finch and Tim Paine were needed last year to address concerns about Langer’s coaching.

Former teammates of the West Australian champion including Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn, all came out in defence of their friend and slammed CA for its “embarrassing” handling of the entire situation.

Speaking on ABC Radio on Saturday, Ponting suggested Langer had been pushed out of the coaching role after a “small group” of players refused to support him.

“It is a really sad day as far as Australian cricket is concerned and if you look back it has been a really poor six months on the whole in the way that Cricket Australia has handled some of the better people in the Australian cricket — Justin Langer and Tim Paine — and I think it’s been almost embarrassing the way they have handled those two cases,” Ponting said.

“He mustn’t have had the full backing of the board. Me knowing Justin the way that I do, he was very keen to continue in the role, as he should have been after what’s been the best coaching period of his international career having just won the T20 World Cup and then the 4-0 result in the Ashes.

“It seems like a very strange time for a coach to be departing.

“Reading the tea leaves it sounds like a few — and as he says to me a small group in the playing group and a couple of other staff around the team — haven’t entirely loved the way he has gone about it.

“That’s been enough to force a man who has put his life and heart and soul into Australian cricket and done a sensational job at turning around the culture and the way the Australian team has been looked at in the last few years to push him out of the job.”

Pat Cummins’ full statement

“There has been much public comment since Justin Langer’s resignation as the Coach of the Australian Cricket team,” Cummins said. “For good reason, I haven’t made public comment before today.

“To speak about a decision, which was yet to be made and which is for Cricket Australia to make, would have put Cricket Australia and the team in an impossible position.

“I’d never do that.

“I believe in respecting the sanctity of the change room and proper process.

“Now that a decision has been made by Justin to resign and given his own public comments and others by Cricket Australia, I can provide some clarity.

“Justin has acknowledged that his style was intense. And it was.

“He has apologised to players and staff for his intensity.

“I think the apology was unnecessary.

“Because the players were ok with JL’s intensity.

“It came from a good place – his fierce love of Australia and the baggy green – something which has served Australian cricket well for three decades.

“It’s what makes him a legend of the sport.

“And Justin’s intensity drove a better team culture and higher team standards.

“These are significant Justin Langer legacies.

“And on behalf of the players, I thank Justin.

“More than that, we owe him a lot and Justin will be a welcome face in the change room in the future.

“So, his intensity was not the issue for the players and the support staff.

“The question is: what is the best style of coaching for the future, given how the team has evolved?

“We have been very well schooled in how to play cricket in the right way – in the correct Australian way.

“We understand the importance of always playing to the highest ethical standards.

“And the players need no motivation as I’ve never played with more motivated cricketers.

“To be better players for Australia, from this solid foundation, we need a new style of coaching and skill set.

“This was the feedback the players gave to Cricket Australia. And it’s the feedback I understand support staff also gave.

“We welcome that Cricket Australia invited the players and staff to contribute to CA’s evaluation.

“I add that as professional sportspeople we would have accepted any decision CA were to make because that’s what professionals do.

“CA have made a brave call to transition, given the team has been winning.

“Finally, we are custodians of cricket, with one very big thing in common: our first duty is to Australian cricket, which is bigger than any one of us.

“I take this responsibility seriously. I live and breathe it.

“We also have a duty to our mates.

“Many former players have reached out to me and silently offered me their advice which is welcome.

“Some others have spoken in the media – which is also welcome and comes from a love of the game and their support of a mate.

“To all past players, I want to say this — just as you have always stuck up for your mates, I’m sticking up for mine.

“I’m looking forward to speaking with the media today before training.”



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