Australian coach Justin Langer made his shattered players watch a replay of their Headingley meltdown, just a day after England levelled the Ashes series with a miracle victory.
Less than 24 hours after Ben Stokes took England to a famous win, Langer gathered the Australian squad in the boardroom of their hotel, with the players reliving England’s record breaking 10th wicket partnership on the big screen.
Spinner Nathan Lyon covered his face with his hands as the footage showed his botched run-out that would have given Australia a one-run victory, while Langer and captain Tim Paine had a vigorous debate over the field settings employed by the visitors in the closing stages of the match.
The compelling footage is contained in Amazon Prime’s new documentary The Test, which takes viewers behind the scenes with the Australian team through 2018 and 2019.
England’s victory at Headingley levelled the five match series at 1-all after three Tests, but as the stunned players gathered in the dressing room immediately after the loss, Paine insisted they couldn’t take their eyes off the ultimate prize, the Ashes.
“That’s going to f—ing hurt a lot, no doubt, for the next couple of days,” Paine told his players just moments after the match finished.
“However, we’ve still got two Test matches. So let this f—ing sting, we had our chances to win that game and we f—ed it up. Shit happens. We can talk about that at another time.
“We’ve got two Test matches, we’ve got a bit of time off, let’s take time, stick together, keep knowing that the process we have in place to beat these blokes is going to work.
“It’s not game over. It’s not toys out of the cot, it’s a game of cricket. Shit f—ing happens. Yep, it was f—ing important, and we wanted it, we should have f—ing won it. Let’s move on and start getting our head around winning the next two f—ing Tests.”
The Test includes footage from the viewing room as Lyon fumbled the run-out that would have retained the urn.
As the chance goes begging, coach Langer stands up from his seat and kicks a rubbish bin down the stairs, sending the contents flying. The next few moments are taken up with the coach sheepishly cleaning up the mess.
As the players gathered the next day, Langer announced they would be watching the replay of the last wicket stand.
“The truth is, this could easily break us, that’s what the rest of the world will be saying. But it’s our choice,” he said.
“What we’re going to do, we’re going to watch what happened yesterday, for no other reason, except to learn.
“It’s going to give us the shits watching it, but we’ll learn from it. We’ll shake ourselves off, and we’re going to get up to be ready for the next Test match.”
Lyon told The Test he “wasn’t overly impressed” at having to sit through the replay, having already replayed the final moment in his head “over and over.”
Langer singled out a moment when Australia failed to bring the field up for the final ball of a Nathan Lyon over, giving Stokes the one run he needed to retain the strike, instead of exposing number 11 Jack Leach to a full over from James Pattinson.
The coach pointed out that “if we’re reading the play, there is no way there can be a run there,” and questioned Paine as to whether or not the plans against Stokes were clear enough.
“We could have changed the fields, we could have bowled more bouncers, we had blokes coming on saying bowl slower balls, Hoff (Josh Hazlewood) bowled him three slower balls, he hit three sixes,” Paine replied.
“So, 100 per cent we can do things slightly differently. We didn’t panic, we didn’t shit ourselves. We tried our best. We had a crack, the bloke had a day out.
“I’ve been awake all night. I would have changed the field 100 times, I think we all would have. But we didn’t.”
Langer closed by revealing a later conversation he had with Paine, where the captain admitted to feeling uneasy in the session.
“After that, Painey said to me ‘Mate, I found that really confronting, because I had to admit I made some mistakes,'” Langer said.
“I said ‘that’s not a weakness mate, that’s a strength.’
“We’re all human, it’s good to admit weakness or vulnerability in front of your mates.”