Australia vs India, 2020-21 – Justin Langer

Australia coach Justin Langer accepts the national team’s public espousal of high behaviour standards left them open to a heavy round of criticism following an unedifying final day of the Sydney Test, and found parallels between Steven Smith’s crease scratching episode and his own “bail tapping” incident in Si Lanka in 2004.

While Langer went on the attack about some of the more outlandish criticisms of Smith in particular, revealing on morning radio that he had personally called Darren Gough and Michael Vaughan about their commentary on the episode, he was also self-aware enough to know that the way the Australia side has tried to make high profile improvements to team behaviour and culture since the 2018 Newlands scandal left many observers sweating on the next lapse.

When it arrived in the form of the captain Tim Paine’s combination of harangues at R Ashwin and dropped catches during India’s unlikely escape with a draw at the SCG, the howls of derision from around the world, particularly in England at the outset of an Ashes year, did not unduly surprise or alarm Langer.

“Just a good reminder isn’t it … I remember a great mate of mine told me a few years ago if you’re going to build a house or a hotel, it takes years to do it, but it takes a couple of hours to rip it all down with a bulldozer,” Langer said. “So we’ve got to be on top of our game all the time, but also our players are human.

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