Langer ‘nearly died’ over ball-tam­per­ing

Daily Mail - - Sports - By LAWRENCE BOOTH

JUSTIN LANGER has ad­mit­ted he ‘nearly died’ over Aus­tralia’s re­cent ball-tam­per­ing scan­dal in Cape Town. Langer, who be­came Aus­tralia coach last month af­ter Dar­ren Lehmann’s res­ig­na­tion, also sug­gested Steve Smith had not been a strong enough leader — adding that Smith, David Warner and Cameron Ban­croft de­served to be pe­nalised harshly for ‘Sand­pa­per­gate’. ‘Once upon a time op­po­si­tion play­ers didn’t like us be­cause we played good, hard cricket,’ said Langer, who won 105 Test caps as an opener. ‘It’s easy to dis­like the op­po­si­tion if they’re good. But there have been too many whis­pers over the last 12 months or so about abuse on the field or — dare I say — play­ing like spoilt brats. And there were too many whis­pers for it not to be­come real. ‘When that hap­pened, as a past player and a lover of Australian cricket, I nearly died. And when I saw it was Cameron Ban­croft, I was like, ugh! My heart nearly came out of my chest. I couldn’t be­lieve it. You’ve got to won­der how it gets to that point. Maybe Steve Smith just wasn’t strong enough in his lead­er­ship.’ In a dou­ble in­ter­view with Sports­mail’s Nasser Hus­sain on Sky Sports, cap­tain Tim Paine said the team’s be­havioural prob­lems had built up over a ‘sus­tained pe­riod of time — not one year, not two, prob­a­bly longer than that’. Mean­while, the Pro­fes­sional Crick­eters’ As­so­ci­a­tion have de­manded a ‘fair share’ for all play­ers from the pro­ceeds of the ECB’s record £1.1bn, five-year broad­cast deal for the rights to their new ci­ty­based tour­na­ment. ‘You can’t have a sit­u­a­tion where a huge amount more money comes into the game and the play­ers do not ben­e­fit from it,’ said play­ers’ union chair­man Daryl Mitchell.

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