Pat Cummins has been adamant that there are no cowards in Australia’s cricket team, admitting his disappointment at the Justin Langer podcast saga overshadowing the start of the Test summer.
Speaking for the first time since Langer made headlines last week, Cummins also clarified that he would never release details of private conversations in public.
The Australian captain’s comments come just a day after the first Test against West Indies, with below-average crowds expected in Langer’s hometown of Perth on Wednesday.
Australia will field their regular roster at home, with Josh Hazlewood the only man to come from the squad that faced Sri Lanka at Galle in July.
The hosts will also start the battle for the Frank Worrell Trophy as heavy favourites, with the West Indies having failed to win a Test in Australia since 1996-97.
But with little fanfare or promotion around Perth, much of the focus remains on the reception Australia are receiving in what is likely to be a largely empty Optus Stadium.
Cummins was keen on Tuesday to acknowledge that Langer had clarified several of his comments, including saying he was not referring to players when he said those who leaked to the media were “cowards.”
“There are no cowards in the Australian cricket team, ever,” Cummins said.
“I thank Justin for clarifying his comments afterwards.
“He thought about it and clarified it, so I thank him for that.
“But we’re really proud of the last 12 months, the way we coped, the way we played, the way we conducted ourselves.
“The players can definitely hold their heads up high.”
Cummins also said he didn’t believe the team was on the nose with the Australian public, pointing the finger at the crowds throughout the recent Twenty20 World Cup.
But there is no doubt that there is strong support for Langer in Perth.
In his podcast interview published last week, the former national manager also lamented the lack of direct feedback from players, including Cummins and Aaron Finch, at the end of his tenure.
Those comments, in particular, drew ire from Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley, who issued a statement alongside the players.
“I would probably never divulge private conversations, but you should ask Justin,” Cummins said.
“There is no ill will in what he was trying to do and he clarified afterwards.
“I feel like there are so many good things happening right now, especially this Test team (being) No.1 in the world.
“It’s disappointing sometimes that the focus is on issues off the pitch, but that hasn’t really affected our team.”
Meanwhile, Cummins also defended his own image – including claiming he had become “too wide awake” as Australia captain.
The skipper made headlines earlier this summer when he opted out of appearing in Alinta Energy adverts given the team sponsor’s carbon footprint.
Australia will also take a knee in this series alongside West Indies in a bid to highlight racial inequality, an act adopted when the team played in the Caribbean last year.
“In this position, you’re always going to bother people,” he said.
“We are cricketers, but you can’t leave your values at the door. People stand for different things.
“Take a knee this week, we do it out of respect for the West Indies, in favor of equality.
“Anyone who says it’s a bad thing, I don’t really care.”
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- Pat Cummins cuts downbeat figure as Langer fallout rages ahead of first Test against West Indies in Perth