Langer ‘nearly died’ over ball-tampering
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.