Embattled Australia coach Justin Langer, who was credited for changing Australian team culture after taking over in the aftermath of the notorious "Sandpaper-gate" ball-tampering tour of South Africa in 2018, came under fire after reports regarding a dressing room rift emerged in late January. Langer owned up to his behavior and now insisted that he has the full support of his players and reiterated a desire to extend his contract after the Ashes against England.
In an interview with the Sydney Daily Telegraph, Langer said: "Yeah, I do" when asked if he now had the full support of his players. It's been an incredibly humbling experience," he added.
"My experience in life is that often in the most humbling periods are the best periods for learning and growing and that's certainly the case for me and I'm sure you can feel it already within the team."
He characterised the talks with Test captain Tim Paine, limited overs skipper Aaron Finch and their deputy Pat Cummins as "the best conversations I've had with players in my 10 years as a coach."
"They were honest, they were open and I really respect and admire the guys for that. It's actually led to a greater level of trust believe it or not."
They resulted in Langer handing over more responsibility to senior players and coaches, a move he called "liberating". "I'm enjoying it and I'm sure we and they will get great benefit out of that as we keep moving forward."
Langer is currently with the team in Abu Dhabi at the Twenty20 World Cup, where Australia defeated South Africa by five wickets in a tense opener to their campaign on Saturday. Once the tournament is over, they head back to Australia for a five-Test series against England, with Langer's fate in the balance after that. He is contracted until mid-2022 and Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley has said he won't be considering Langer's future until after the summer.
"I've said publicly before that I would," Langer said of wanting to extend his contract. We are incredibly well organised for this (World Cup) campaign and then we get straight into the Ashes. I'm going to put all my attention into that and then we'll see what happens after that."
Despite the intense scrutiny in recent months over his "headmaster-like" leadership, Langer insisted he never considered quitting.
"When you go through hard times you have two choices: either quit or you get better," he said.
"And hopefully in everything I've done in my life I haven't ever taken the first option."
(With inputs from AFP)