Marnus Labuschagne has leapt to the defence of Justin Langer after revelations the national coach berated him for taking a toasted sandwich on the field in Brisbane.
Reports have surfaced this week of disquiet in the Test team with suggestions players were growing tired of their coach’s intense nature in the wake of their humbling series defeat to India on home soil.
Labuschagne became the focus of one element of the stories after Langer addressed toastie-gate.
“I’m the grumpiest p**ck in the world because I told Marnus Labuschagne not to take a toasted ham and cheese sandwich (to the dugout) after his 40-minute lunch break,” Langer told the Cricket Et Cetera podcast as he vowed to do better.
The coach’s Langer’s steely demeanour unified the national team following the controversial South African tour of 2018, but reports indicated his style of coaching was starting to wear thin inside the playing group.
But Labuschagne, who has become a core member the Test team during an up and down past 18 months, praised the national coach adding now was the time for everyone to come together as Australia looks to move on from the disappointing India series.
“I love JL and I love what he brings to the team,” he said after the Brisbane Heat’s season-ending Big Bash loss on Thursday.
“There’s always more pressure when you’re not winning games. We’ve got to make sure that we’re really focused when we come back as a squad and make sure we stay really close to each other as a group and as a coaching staff. We need to keep supporting each other and backing each other.”
The road to recovery would have started later this month against South Africa, but the tour has been postponed due to COVID concerns in the region.
It means Australia may not play a Test until the Ashes later this year, with England set to gain a massive advantage with back-to-back blockbuster series against India coming up both home and away.
“It would have been a great contest, but the health and safety of the players has to come first. That’s the decision that’s been made, and that’s out of our control,” Labuschagne said.
“It’s very disappointing to not be playing Test cricket for so long. I don’t know what it looks like if there is potential to play some Test cricket sooner, but if not, you’ve got to make sure you get yourself ready for the Ashes because there’s no bigger series to get up for than an Ashes series on home soil against an England line-up that’s going to have a lot of Test cricket under their belt.
“I’ll just be focusing on my next game – it doesn’t matter who that’s for – and that’s the way I go about it. In these COVID times, I think you probably have to keep your mind shortsighted, rather than looking so far ahead.”
Labuschagne has also been touted as a potential captaincy candidate when Tim Paine steps away, and a push has begun to get the Queenslander in charge of his state team.
“That’s out of my control. I just try to be the best leader I can be,” Labuschagne, who doesn’t captain his state side, said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the name tag or you don’t; for me, it’s just about learning and giving everything I have – my knowledge and experience – to the team.
“If I can do that and that develops into a leadership role – a formal one – then so be it. But for me, it’s just about making sure I can help the team out as much as I can and be a leader within the team.”