THE wind tore across the spiritual home of cricket, and made me shiver to the core. As Somerset and Middlesex played out a thriller in fading light, I’m certain I was the only person present actually praying for the heavens to open. I saw a rain delay as my best chance of interviewing Justin Langer (JL), a former champion Australian opening batsman, and one of my all time heroes.
Few will ever play with such honest determination and such pride in representing their country as the great man. Growing up watching the plucky West Australian fight with so much vigour was one of major reasons I fell in love with test match cricket. If there was just a slim hope of nabbing him for a chat, then of course I was waiting.
It had been a sensational day spent sitting in the hallowed grand stands despite the inclement weather, Langer’s replacement at the top of the order for Australia, Phil Hughes, almost stealing the show with a brilliant century for Middlesex. Langer, captain of Somerset, proved he still had what it takes, winning man of the match as he hauled in Middlesex’s massive total and dragged his team across the line.
Then finally after the crowds had departed I got the message that JL, who had been good enough to reply to my annoying emails, was ready for a chat. Two minutes later we were sitting on the steps inside the sacred Lords Pavilion, one former champion and one kid living his dream, chatting about the approaching Ashes Series.
After the way you played today it looks like you could keep playing forever, how much cricket have you got left in you?
I’m not too sure actually, I had six months out of the game, and it’s really refreshed me and physically I’m in really good shape. I feel that fresh mate I might even make a comeback for WA next year, they came last in almost all competitions last year and I am seriously contemplating a comeback.
With an Ashes series approaching, do you get itchy feet and wish you were still wearing the baggy green?
Not really, I’m enjoying playing domestic cricket and Somerset is like a second home for us. It will certainly be different watching this time compared to facing the first ball of the last couple of series.
In a way it’s a little bit of a shame that the first test isn’t at Lords as it is traditionally, there’s nothing like being here for the start of an Ashes series. These steps we are sitting on at the minute, I’ll never forget standing here with Matty Hayden about to head out. When I get sick the two things I can’t stand the smell of is bacon and coffee, and standing here nervous as hell, it’s all you could smell coming up from the long room.
Then you walk out there and I’ll miss that feeling of course, I’ll miss the hype and competition of test cricket but I won’t miss being away from my family and I won’t miss the media scrutiny to be honest.
Now standing in the field today watching a young bloke like Phil Hughes, do you look back at the start of your own career and think about what he’s got ahead of him?
Yeah mate, and you know it goes so quick, I heard Warney on Sky sports the other day talking about sitting in the SCG change rooms thinking “I can’t believe it’s over”, and I was probably feeling the same way.
He’s just got it all ahead of him and he’s a terrific kid, it was the first time I’ve really seen him bat today, and you know he is unorthodox, but hope he never changes, because he really creams them, especially for a little fella and he seems so hungry for runs.
The other great thing about him, he strikes me as a youngster who really wants to get better and always listens to advice. He’s got a massive future in the game and looks set for a huge Ashes series.
Now this is Ashes series, how do you think we’ll go?
I think we look pretty good; Mitchell Johnson is arguably the best left arm bowler in the world, if not the best bowler in the world. Pete Siddle too is massively underrated, no one knows too much about him, but speaking with the Australian boys, they just love him and think he’s a really good bowler.
Brett Lee and Stuart Clark are still coming back and we might be missing a bit of depth with spin, but you know what, I’ve been playing in this country a long time, 18 years I’ve been coming here and I’ve never seen anyone dominate with spin. Shane Warne of course did in 2005, but Warney’s a genius.
There’s other ways to win cricket here, Michael Clark bowls pretty good offies, so does Marcus North and McDonald’s been excellent at number 8. He’s a no fuss cricketer; he just loves it and gets on with the job.
I think that’s the sums up the type of Cricketer you were?
You got to do your job don’t you, day in day out, everyone. Even the great players, Punter, Haydos and Gilly, they all did their job. I mean they did it better than most, but you could rely on them because they did it day in day out.
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