‘I am playing f***ing Test cricket’ – Justin Langer and Usman Khawaja had heated altercation before Pakistan Test in 2018
After all the drama that happened, Usman Khawaja went on to play a phenomenal role for the team in the first Test as he chipped in with useful contributions, scoring 85 and 141.
Updated - Mar 11, 2020 1:47 pm
We feast our eyes on a selection of the greatest cricket documentaries because it is worth its weight in gold. On the contrary, there have also been negative stories like the heated confrontation between a player and a coach or sometimes an unexpected bust-up among the players in the dressing room that happens behind the scenes and nobody knows until the entire picture of the incident crops up as a documentary.
Case in point, a new documentary has exposed a heated altercation between Australian coach Justin Langer and batsman Usman Khawaja ahead of the first Test against Pakistan in 2018. The Test series which was played in the Middle East in October 2018 was Australia’s first assignment in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal that happened in South Africa earlier that year.
With talismanic batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner were suspended for obvious reasons, Usman Khawaja was left to carry a huge responsibility on his shoulders with Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne who all made their debut in the first Test against Pakistan.
At a training session prior to that Test match, Justin Langer had insisted batsmen to rotate between practice sessions each time they get out, despite actually admitting that “I know it pisses you off.” When Langer had asked for feedback from his players after the nets session, Khawaja was the first one to speak, and Amazon Prime Documentary ‘The Test’ revealed that conversation did not go well between player and coach.
Khawaja: “I think we were more worried about getting out than actually trying to execute better and execute well.”
Langer (getting annoyed): “Yeah well what happens when you get out in a game?”
Khawaja: “If I’m getting out two times in the nets, I know I’m getting out two times in the nets. I’m playing f—ing Test cricket here.”
Langer: “Well what are you worried about?”
Khawaja: “I’m worried about harping too much on negatives”
Langer: “Well don’t get out. What we are saying, is we’re not going to accept you getting out, because, for the last 20 times in Australian cricket, we’ve had 20 batting collapses. 20 f—ing batting collapses. We’ve got to get better at it.
“It’s got nothing to do with how we set up the net session, because the Pakistanis, they might put 10 blokes around you. This isn’t f—ing fair. Or they might put 10 blokes on the boundary. Oh this isn’t going to suit my f—ing style. You’ve got to deal with it.
“You’ve got to deal with it in Test cricket. So we’re going to put pressure on you. Now if you guys want to say, ‘This isn’t suiting my f—ing style,’ no worries. It will suit your style when we don’t have f—ing 20 batting collapses every time we play for Australia.”
Langer who intended to gain the goodwill of Usman Khawaja told the documentary that he loves Khawaja while also adding that treating him with utmost respect can be the real difference, “I love Uzzie, he’s got his own mind, he’s strong in his beliefs, and if you treat him with respect you usually get your best results.”
After all the drama that happened, Usman Khawaja went on to play a phenomenal role for the team in the first Test as he chipped in with useful contributions, scoring 85 and 141 as Australia escaped with a pulsating draw. In fact, the century which he scored in the second innings was one of his finest innings as it took more than eight hours to tire out Pakistan as Australia fought really hard to save the match.
Nonetheless, Khawaja showed signs of inconsistency which resulted in dropping him out of the national team set up. He ran through a dry patch in the home summer against India and also failed to pass the 50-run mark in six innings against England. “If the coach tells me to do something I’m the kind of guy who pushes back,” Usman Khawaja told The Test.
“You don’t tell me what to do. That’s not saying I’m not a team player, I do what the team needs me to do. I always put the team first, what I think the team needs, but my motivation comes from me. You can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do,” Khawaja added.