In Praise of JL

JL left nothing out on the field of play

There’s something about gritty leaders who do everything by example that naturally appeals. They are leaders who you can follow, leaders you know will leave nothing left out on the battle field. If they lose, you know they have done their best. If you had to rely on anyone to do something extraordinary, you would turn to them. They’d give it a go.

And so to my subject today, Justin Langer, JL, Alfie, or @BrownNoseGnome. An ex international cricketer of distinction, martial arts expert, he personifies the gritty fighter, all tucked up and jabbing away when he batted. He fought hard in the field and was a team man through and through. Now a coach, I have seen him both in thrilling success and disappointing defeat this week, and his persona in either situation did not change one jot. He just oozed calm concentration, with a word here, a word there. His team this year had an ignominious start to the tournament losing their first two matches, badly, but then went on a winning spree such that they hosted the grand final yesterday here in Perth. Wednesday’s semi final was the most amazing match I had ever seen, chasing down 11 runs an over and three off the last ball. He was there throughout sitting amidst his team, expressionless calm in the dugout. Anyone looking his way for reassurance would have felt instantly boosted. You can do it guys, just as we practised, it’ll be OK.

I only met JL once, in a friendly match against his old school. He quizzed me on my work as if it was the most important thing in the world, whereas I was probably too shy to ask him about his (he’d just retired after seeing off the old enemy 5-0 in the Ashes Tests of 2006/07). We fielded in the slips together, and after the keeper dropped a catch, and he caught his with ease a few overs later, he gave us a tip. “Look for the seam on the ball, because if you see that you are focussed in on the ball.” I tried it. As the ball left the bowler’s hand I focused on it trying to pick up the seam; it worked, the ball flew off the edge right to me, I saw it clearly and … dropped it. Agh well, not everyone is coachable JL.

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