A new documentary that will be aired on Amazon Prime shows that Australian head coach Justin Langer and batsman Usman Khawaja had been involved in a heated argument on their tour to the UAE to play a Test series against Pakistan in 2018. It was the side’s first Test after the ball-tampering saga that had taken place in South Africa in March 2018.
Both Steven Smith and David Warner had been suspended for the series, which meant that top-order player Khawaja had to burden most of the responsibility. Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne made their Test debut in the first Test, which further increased the pressure on Khawaja.
In a training session, Langer insisted that the Aussies rotated between the nets each time the batsmen were dismissed, despite admitting that it irritated the team.
The banter was as follows:
Khawaja: “I think we were more worried about getting out than actually trying to execute better and execute well.”
Langer (getting angry): “Yeah well what happens when you get out in a game?”
Khawaja: “If I’m getting out two times in the nets, I know I’m getting out two times in the nets. I’m playing f—ing Test cricket here.”
Langer: “Well what are you worried about?”
Khawaja: “I’m worried about harping too much on negatives”
Langer: “Well don’t get out. What we are saying, is we’re not going to accept you getting out, because, for the last 20 times in Australian cricket, we’ve had 20 batting collapses. 20 f—ing batting collapses. We’ve got to get better at it.
“It’s got nothing to do with how we set up the net session, because the Pakistanis, they might put 10 blokes around you. This isn’t f—ing fair. Or they might put 10 blokes on the boundary. Oh, this isn’t going to suit my f—ing style. You’ve got to deal with it.
“You’ve got to deal with it in Test cricket. So we’re going to put pressure on you. Now if you guys want to say, ‘This isn’t suiting my f—ing style,’ no worries. It will suit your style when we don’t have f—ing 20 batting collapses every time we play for Australia.”
Khawaja had gone on to play a fine knock in the first Test, scoring 85 and 141 in the two innings; as Australia managed to draw the first game. He batted more than eight hours in the second innings as Australia battled to save the game. It is still regarded as Khawaja’s best Test knock thus far.