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Page last updated at 05:55 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 06:55 UK

Justin Langer column

Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Former Australia batsman and Somerset captain

Australia coach Tim Nielsen, recipient of the e-mail published as Justin Langer's "dossier", with captain Ricky Ponting
Tim Nielsen was upset and sadly apologetic that our written conversation had been exposed

You might be able to imagine my shock when a reporter from The Daily Telegraph told me on Saturday morning that his newspaper had obtained a copy of a dossier which I had compiled on the English cricket team.

When he told me this, I had no idea what he was talking about as the only so-called dossier I had compiled was a personal e-mail I had sent to Australia coach Tim Nielsen.

Asked for a comment, I refused to get drawn in, as I couldn't for the life of me work out how such a document could become public property.

Those who have read my columns on the BBC website over the last eight years would know that it is not my style to publicly criticise any fellow cricketer, regardless of the colour of the cap they wear.

Because of this, I am naturally disappointed that some of my personal and private thoughts to a close friend of mine in Tim Nielsen have reached the public domain.

Having spoken to Tim on Sunday night, he was upset and sadly apologetic that our written conversation had been exposed.

He had copied my thoughts down and given them out to a few of the less experienced members of the team before the Cardiff Test. Obviously one of the team left these lying around and, as they say, the rest is history.

What interests me is why it has taken so long for them to come out? Sure there is journalistic liberty, but if my private opinion was so relevant, why wait until England had lost a Test match?


Maybe that says something about the ruthless nature of the press in this country.

It is also interesting that none of the positive views on the English players were revealed. Again, maybe this is just the way of the world today.

Over the last 24 hours it has also been interesting how many messages I have received from people in authority in this country, telling me they agree with much of what I wrote.

A couple of commentators have jumped up and down about my thoughts, but I would challenge any of them as to whether they had had any personal conversations leading up to big Test series. Of course they have.

The reality is that in this day and age there is so much information available on opposition players and every team is looking for any available edge that may make a difference to their team's success.

Justin Langer and England captain Andrew Strauss, pictured at Middlesex in 2000
Langer and Strauss were team-mates at Middlesex from 1998 to 2000

Thankfully I have had a good chat with Andrew Strauss, who is also a good friend of mine, and he has assured me that my thoughts have been taken with a pinch of salt.

He and I understand how the media industry works and the fact is that when both teams cross the white line, any opinion, speculation or observation becomes irrelevant.

The only way the media can have an impact on the result of any game is if the players cannot divorce themselves from the distraction and they let it divert them from the 100% concentration required for optimal performance.

One thing for certain is that, come next Thursday, the 22 players representing their country will have to be at their best in every department, because this fifth Test will be the biggest game of their lives.

Australia were brilliant at Headingley, England excellent in Tests two and three, and this series has been a magnificent advert for Test cricket.

In many respects it is a pity we all have to wait 10 days for the finale because of the interest in the series.

This said, we can all be sure that many people will have an opinion on the outcome of the fifth Test. Let's just hope every personal conversation doesn't become public property.

From Taunton,


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see also
Flintoff cleared for Ashes finale
10 Aug 09 |  England
England quintet face county stint
10 Aug 09 |  England
Ramprakash in England contention
10 Aug 09 |  England
England should not panic - Hayden
09 Aug 09 |  Australia
Flower hints at batting changes
09 Aug 09 |  England
Aussies win to level Ashes series
09 Aug 09 |  England
Aussies defy England to earn draw
03 Aug 09 |  England
Flintoff inspires England victory
20 Jul 09 |  England
Defiant England cling on for draw
12 Jul 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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