Australian coach Justin Langer says he has been “saddened” by the events surrounding former captain Tim Paine in recent weeks.
- Justin Langer says he has been to Tasmania “to give [Tim Paine] a hug” in recent weeks
- Langer said he believes Steve Smith deserves another opportunity to hold a leadership role within the Australian team
- The Australian coach says he holds out hope for Perth to host the fifth Ashes Test
Paine has made himself unavailable for selection as he spends some time away from the game, after relinquishing the captaincy in the wake of a sexting scandal.
Langer had recently made a trip to Tasmania to visit Paine.
“It’s been obviously a really tough time for Tim. He’s one of the really great people I’ve met in cricket,” Langer told ABC Sport.
“I and we have been really saddened by what’s happened. Our captain, our friend, is shattered with what’s happened.
“I’m glad I went and saw him — that’s what we do in Australia, we back up our mates and have each other’s backs and we support our friends.
“So that’s why I went down there. I’m glad I’ve seen him to give him a hug.”
Langer told a press conference on Saturday that Paine was a victim of “a very judgemental society” in “a world of perfectionism”.
Speaking to ABC Sport, Langer said he was pleased to see Steve Smith return to a formal leadership position for the first time since his 2018 ban after the Cape Town sandpaper scandal.
“I said in our my first press conference four years ago there’s not one person listening to this broadcast that hasn’t made a mistake in their life,” Langer said.
“What Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have done over the last few years has been absolutely brilliant, the way they’ve behaved on and off the field and the way they’ve behaved in their community.
“So of course he deserves another opportunity.”
Cricket Australia is yet to confirm the location of the fifth Test of the Ashes series, with Perth unlikely to keep the match due to Western Australia’s strict border control measures.
While most expect the Test will either be played in Hobart or Melbourne, Langer says he still holds out hope for Perth.
“I think everyone would love to see it in Perth, because there is such great history of Perth Test matches,” he said.
“There’s no denying [Perth] Stadium is one of the best stadiums in the world now. So I think everyone wants it, we just have to wait and see what can be organised.”
Alex Carey has been confirmed as Paine’s replacement in the Test team, with the wicketkeeper set to make his debut at the Gabba, but Langer was giving nothing away as to the make-up of the rest of the team.
“We’ve got to keep something sacred, we’ve given away all our other secrets a lot earlier than usual,” he said.
“We’ll settle on our 11 and Patty will announce it on the morning of the game. We’ve got to give you guys something to think about.”