14/04/2024

Pat Cummins and Justin Langer. Image: cricket.com.au

Pat Cummins has always been the figure that Cricket Australia has been searching for as a leader, after fronting the media in the wake of Justin Langer's departure, he is the captain Australia needs right now

With the cage well and truly rattled by all corners of the Australian cricket fraternity, Pat Cummins knew he faced a tricky line of questioning when he fronted the media on Wednesday for the first time since the resignation of Justin Langer.

On four occasions leading up to his inevitable resignation, Cummins was quizzed as to whether or not he and the playing group supported the incumbent coach. On all four occasions, it was what he didn’t say that said the most about his and the playing group’s feelings towards the coach.

Now four months into the role as the new Australian captain, rarely was Cummins tested in the heat of battle this summer.

He might have however just had and passed his biggest one so far in the job on Wednesday afternoon.

Four days removed from the coach’s resignation, or exit forced by the current playing group, and on the back of pressure from teammate Usman Khawaja, he needed to explain himself. Authentically, for himself and his teammates, all while being truthful and respectful to Justin Langer.

While Cummins confirmed what we already knew, that he and the current playing group didn’t want Justin to be the coach anymore, it is hard to believe that this was nothing but the right outcome. A conclusion was drawn to both Cricket Australia and its players after the crisis conversations that were taking place six months prior reared their head again.

Despite the recent successes of winning the T20 World Cup and pounding England in a home Ashes series, Justin Langer knew he was on borrowed time. Ultimately, Langer’s departure was more of a matter of when not if.

Both Cummins and Cricket Australia had spent day’s days of fending off criticism from the former greats of the game with their loud and public defence of Langer. All wanting to stand up for their ex-teammate and friend. One by one the cast of the 2000s and the dominant Australian sides, Ponting, Hayden, Taylor Gilchrist, the Waugh brothers, Martyn, Warne, and more. They lined up to have a go at Cricket Australia for the way they handled the matter. In some cases – notably Mitchell Johnson, they went straight for Cummins’ jugular.

Australian Captain Pat Cummins speaks to the media on Wednesday. Image: cricket.com.au

Cummins handled the slew of questions and criticism in the same manner as he has for his entire playing career. Class and precision.

He chose his words carefully, but was concise and revealing with everything he said, standing up for himself and his mates.

Much like Commissioner Gordon told his son in the final scenes of The Dark Knight as the Batman ran off into the wilderness that he was the hero that Gotham deserved but not the one it needed right now, Cummins has emerged as the man who Australian cricket has searched for and not known how badly they have needed him to be the man in office.

For a long time, he was the leader that Australia wanted. He is most certainly the one that Australia needs.

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While plenty had been calling on him to explain his role and his stance, he broke his silence and squared up strongly on Wednesday.

He had no issues with Langer’s intensity which was reported as an issue for some members of the group.

“His fierce love of Australia and the baggy green … makes him a legend of the sport” – but was clear “we need a new style of coaching and skill set,” Cummins said in his statement.

He didn’t shy away from the fundamental differences in the ways Langer felt the team should be coached, suggesting that the players wanted less management and more freedom on planning, collaboration, and decision making.

He showed Langer the respect of acknowledging the job that he had done to restore Australian cricket from the depths of despair when he took over, nor did he kick the coach on the way out by giving a tell-all airing of all his shortcomings as a coach and why the current playing group couldn’t be convinced that he was the man to lead the team into the future.

He addressed everyone and everything in the wake of the storm the week had created.

Despite the charming looks he may give, and all the poster boy energy he exudes both on and off the field, Cummins proved again that he is indeed no soft touch and not just a pretty face. But indeed a man in charge of a team and nation that believes in standing for something.

Issues both on and off the cricketing field.

The merit of which Langer’s brutal demise will continue to divide opinion, but Pat Cummins has proven beyond doubt that he is the man and captain to lead Australia forward right now.

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