Former Australian batsman and current head coach Justin Langer has revealed that he had almost decided to quit cricket and announce his retirement during Australia’s Ashes tour of England in 2001.
The head coach further said he wanted to return home midway through the Ashes 2001 after being dropped from the team due to poor form, but it was then captain Steve Waugh’s phone call before the final Test that changed his career.
The left-hander, who used to bat at the No. 3 position, was struggling to score and was eventually dropped from Australia’s XI before the start of the opening Test against the arch-rivals, leading him to almost quit cricket but fortunately, was recalled for final Test and the rest is history.
Langer was recalled for the fifth and final Test and Waugh asked him to open the batting for Australia with fellow left-hander Matthew Hayden for the first time – which was the start of one of the most successful opening partnerships in the history of the game.
He managed to grab the opportunity with both hands, scoring an unbeaten 102 at The Oval – the first of his 16 centuries as an opener as the call proved to be the turning point of his career and he went on to score 7,696 runs from 105 Tests, including 23 hundreds for his country.
Langer told the ABC’s One Plus One Programme: “Literally, the week before I opened for the first time with Haydos, I told all my family I’m getting on a plane and leaving (and) I’m going home.”
He further explained, “I couldn’t make a run, I thought I’d failed (and) I’d never play for Australia again. I’d been dropped at the start of the series when I thought I was going to play. My wife had flown over because I was going to retire the week before.”
Langer signed off by saying, “I was so down in the dumps ... and out of nowhere, (captain) Steve Waugh rings me and says; ‘you’re going to open the batting tomorrow’. It was another great lesson. If you just hang in there, you never know what’s around the corner.”