Langer’s tongue-lashing has wounded England

By Online Editorial

Cricket

There’s a rule in professional sport that ‘what’s said in the team talk, stays in the team talk.’ But occasionally it gets broken.

Most memorably, Sir Alex Ferguson once let the cameras into his pre-match briefing before Manchester United played Liverpool and was filmed describing his former midfield Guv’nor Paul Ince as “A big time Charlie.”

Ince has suffered from the description ever since, and I suspect Jimmy Anderson will be equally damned for life by the savage words of former Australian opener Justin Langer.

The Somerset captain penned a few thoughts to help out Aussies coach Tim Nielsen before the start of the Ashes series this summer in which he described England’s leading bowler as “a pussy”. He also damned the whole attitude of English cricketers. “As soon as it gets a bit hard you just have to watch their body language and see how flat and lazy they get.”

The three-page briefing was copied and handed round to Ricky Ponting’s players to give them food for thought. And, inevitably, it has now leaked for the whole world to read.

Langer has recently overtaken Don Bradman as the Australian with the most first class runs to his name in cricket history, so he’s more than entitled to his opinions. And while he might have admitted he’s mortified that they’ve been made public (“I would have used different language if I’d known”), he’s not backed down from the substance of his views.

So where will that all leave England’s players – and Anderson especially – as they arrive at The Oval at the end of next week for the Test that will decide who keeps the Ashes? Well the danger is that Anderson, inevitably stung by Langer’s criticism, will try too hard to prove him wrong.

Much has been made of England’s dismal batting at Headingley, but the truth was the bowling was even more awful. And Anderson was as much to blame as anybody. Spurred on by Steve Harmison taking the quick wicket of Simon Katich, he started trying to bang the ball in short and the result was figures of nought for 89 off just 18 overs.

Despite that Anderson is currently England’s joint leading wicket taker in the series alongside Stuart Broad with 12 apiece, and is 2.36 favourite to end the campaign with the most victims. If the pattern of Leeds is followed, with him trying too hard to impress instead of just hitting the spot consistently, that’s definitely one to lay.

The Oval isn’t renowned for swing bowling anyway, and a pitch that will give a bit of bounce is far more suited to Stuart Broad who will be full of confidence after picking up six wickets. Don’t forget, for all that he polished off the tail, his victims included Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.

Andrew Strauss’s team, having been odds on to win the series before their Headingley debacle, are now as long as 5.6 to match their 2005 heroics. That body language could get a whole lot worse yet!

Five things you might not know about Justin Langer:

1. Born in Perth in 1970 his middle name is Lee. His grandfather was a boxer. He was taught cricket by his uncle Rob who was a successful left-handed batsman for Western Australia

2. He has built a gym at the bottom of his garden in Australia where he lives with his wife, childhood sweetheart Sue, and their four daughters. Outside he has a garden where he grows prize roses.

3. If Jimmy Anderson wants to argue with him, beware. He’s into martial arts and is a brown belt in Zen Do Kai. He once went two rounds in the boxing ring with world flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan

4. When he was Middlesex captain he wouldn’t allow pastries or cakes to be served to the team because he thought it made them soft

5. He’s written four books, the first three cricket autobiographies or diaries – but the most recent a self-help guide to overcoming lack of confidence. Perhaps Anderson should buy it!

Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. © The Sporting Exchange Limited

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