ASHTON Agar would be “absolutely shattered” if subjected to the sort of public critique directed at Justin Langer, adding he is full of respect for Australia’s coach and his unwavering values.
Player unease about Langer and his approach ignited intense speculation about the future of the former Test opener, who is contracted until mid-2022.
Langer’s posting of a motivational message on LinkedIn made headlines this week but the issue hit its crescendo in August, when Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley publicly backed Langer to remain coach for the Twenty20 World Cup and Ashes.
Hockley, CA chairman Earl Eddings and on-field leaders Tim Paine, Aaron Finch and Pat Cummins even met to discuss “the elephant in the room”.
Langer and Australia’s T20 World Cup squad will assemble later this week ahead of their tournament-opener against South Africa on October 23.
Agar, a long-time mentee of Langer at both domestic and international level, said he and team-mates know the head coach is listening to feedback and will do “whatever he can to suit the needs of the team”
“You can’t help but respect that and we’ll back him in 100 percent at this tournament and going forward,” Agar told reporters from the UAE. “He’s got strong values and morals as a person and he sticks to them, unwaveringly. Knowing him over 10 years, not a lot has changed.
“I respect him a lot for that. We just have to have a bit of understanding around how horrible that experience (in recent months) would have been and respect someone coming out of that and still doing his best.”
Langer said he felt like ‘Superman’ earlier this year, having responded to player feedback and tried to clear the air prior to a T20 tour of the Caribbean.
But Australia, minus Cummins and several rested stars, suffered lopsided T20 series losses to West Indies and Bangladesh with the heat on Langer most intense while stuck in an Adelaide hotel room for a fortnight.
“All the criticism and everything that he’s copped … to be dragged through the media while you’re in quarantine, all of these different things,” Agar said. “If that happened to you or me, we would be absolutely shattered. But speaking to him recently, he’s doing really well.”
Selectors included leg-spinners Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson alongside Agar in their World Cup squad.
Agar is upbeat that the trio, having played together in Bangladesh, could be squeezed into the same XI during the upcoming tournament.
“It’s all dependent on the surfaces that we get,” Agar said. “We’ve seen in the IPL now that the wickets are getting a little bit tired, we’ll probably get some fresh wickets for the World Cup. But it wouldn’t be really exciting.”