Tim Paine addresses rumours of rift with Justin Langer

Australian Test captain Tim Paine has weighed in on rumours of a dressing room rift between coach Justin Langer and the players.

Reports of discontent among the players emerged following Australia’s 2-1 surprise series loss to India earlier this year.

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Langer’s intense coaching style has reportedly not gone down well with his players, something the coach himself has acknowledged and labelled a “wake-up call”.

But Paine insists his team can reunite behind their coach and repair any ill-feeling within the group.

“We are all 100 per cent behind JL and the job he is doing,” Paine told reporters in Brisbane.

“We had a team review at the end of the Indian series, which is a pretty common factor in professional sports. From Justin to our last player, everyone will get feedback they can improve on.

Australian Test captain Tim Paine says Justin Langer has the full support of the players. (Photo by Patrick HAMILTON/AFP)Source:AFP

“We will go to the Gold Coast in a couple of weeks to delve a bit deeper into that … we are trying to create an environment to give people feedback.

“We obviously did not play as well as we (would have) liked against India and we all want to improve, from Justin down.”

An Australian side has not been together under Langer’s leadership since the Indian series, as the tour to South Africa was postponed due to Covid-19 concerns and the coach did not travel to New Zealand for limited overs matches in February and March.

The players, led by white-ball captain Aaron Finch, will travel to the West Indies next month for several T20Is and ODIs.

Paine puts forward another captaincy option

The race to take over from Paine as Test captain is wide open after the incumbent skipper put forward a left field option.

The 36-year-old said star batsman Marnus Labuschagne had serious leadership potential and could be a future Test captain.

“I think he’d be a good (leader),” Paine said. “Marnus is a great thinker of the game. He’s a good team man, he’s got so much enthusiasm for his team and the game.”

Labuschagne has only played 18 Tests but has already scored five centuries and is quickly establishing himself as a key member of the Australian Test line-up.

“With Marnus it’s about him evolving into leading more, and being more of a leader,” Paine added.

Tim Paine believes Marnus Labuschagne has what it takes to captain the Australian Test side. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

“He’s come into our group and been a really infectious, energetic guy which has been fantastic for our team, but I think in terms of our cricket team improving and Marnus evolving, I think in the next couple of years we’ll definitely see him take the step up.

“He’s got leadership in him, there’s no doubt about that — the way he goes about it, the way he treats people, the way he works on his game … with some time (he) will become an excellent leader for this squad.

“He’s got some real natural leadership ability and if that’s harnessed and helped, I think he’ll be a great captain.”

Paine’s endorsement of Labuschagne echoed comments earlier this year from former Test skipper and Australian cricketing royalty Ricky Ponting, who said the 25-year-old could lead the national side in future years.

“(He) will come into the conversation in 12-18 months’ time, once he’s properly established himself in the team,” Ponting said.

“He seems like the right sort of guy to maybe be a captain down the track at some point.”

Who will take over from Paine when he retires is anyone’s guess, after he said last month he “would support” Steve Smith returning to the captaincy.

The former skipper was banned from all leadership roles for two years after the sandpaper scandal in South Africa in 2018.

Fast bowler and current Test vice-captain Pat Cummins has also been mooted as a possible successor to Paine.

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