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When Struggling Justin Langer Grabbed Adam Gilchrist By the Neck

(Image: AFP)

(Image: AFP)

Australia head coach Justin Langer spoke about how he struggled to come to terms after being dropped for the first Test of the 2001 Ashes series.

Australia head coach Justin Langer spoke about how he struggled to come to terms after being dropped for the first Test of the 2001 Ashes series.

Langer said that it was captain Steve Waugh who broke the news to him and that led to a few weeks in which he tried to change his style of play in a desperate bid to get back into the team and even snapped at wicket-keeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist.

“About two days before the first Test, I had a knock on the door from the legend Steve Waugh, who literally was my hero," Langer said while speaking on former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson’s Lessons Learnt with the Greats podcast as per foxsports.com.au.

“Knocks on the door of my hotel room…walked into my room and says, “I don’t know how to tell you this mate, but you are not playing in the first Test.’ I didn’t know whether to cry on his shoulders or punch him out."

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“This is my hero and my big brother, telling me that I was out, and I was literally shocked, I just didn’t see it coming. Damien Martyn had been in such amazing form in the one-day series leading up to it and he was so good (that) they couldn’t ignore him, and I was the casualty from it," he added.

Langer said that while he carried on with his physical work and conditioning in order to remain in contention for a spot in the team, he never cared to take care of how the blow had affected him mentally and emotionally.

“What happened next was a I was doing all the physical stuff that Aussie blokes do, but what I wasn’t doing, I had to let go of the emotional bit as ‘I’m 31 years old, it’s the end of the dream, I’m out, I’m gone.’ And so for the next six-seven-eight weeks, I was playing the practice games, and I was batting so bad because I was trying so hard," said the 49-year-old.

Eventually, Waugh himself suffered an injury and Langer saw it as an opportunity to get back into the squad. His poor performances in the practice matches however led to him being overlooked and he recalled one such instance where he tried to play like Gilchrist in a practice game against Sussex.

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“I remember at Sussex and I’m thinking, ‘This is my chance, come on, Tugga (Waugh) is out, this is my chance.’ At Sussex, I remember the first innings, I batted with Gilly, and I nearly started crying at the crease because Gilly is smacking them all around the park. I can’t even hit the ball to the square," Langer said.

“Then I am like, ‘C’mon, if I’ll get some runs in the second innings, I’ll play the next Test.’ Then they are going back 10 minutes before stumps, and I was opening the batting there’s nothing worse. And I’m like, ‘C’mon, just get through 10-15 minutes’, and I’m out for a duck. What happens next is I’m walking off at the Hove and I wanted the whole ground to open up and swallow me," he added.

“Adam Gilchrist, he is one of my great friends, and who was the captain, I grabbed him by the neck and chucked him up against the wall, ‘Look what you blokes have done to me!’ and I got really upset."