SYDNEY • Former Australian Test cricketer Justin Langer has accused Shane Warne of insulting "the brotherhood of the baggy green cap" as he sided squarely with former captain Steve Waugh in the argument that is tearing the great Australia cricket side apart.
Since Warne described Waugh as "the most selfish cricketer I've played with" on the Australian television show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, players past and present have been leaping to the former Test captain's defence.
Warne has never forgiven Waugh for dropping him from the side in the West Indies in 1999.
Former Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie said on Twitter that the charismatic leg-spinner was out of order and Langer, a well-known acolyte of Waugh, has sided with the former skipper.
"It is not the Australian way as I know it for ex-team-mates who have spent so much great time together to be criticising," said Langer, a former opening batsman, yesterday. "That is really disappointing. We talk about the brotherhood of wearing the baggy green cap - not many people have done that and we take that really seriously.
DEFENDING THE SKIPPER
Unless I am a bad judge, I say Steve Waugh takes his place rightly and respectfully as a unique Australian sporting treasure.
MATTHEW HAYDEN, former opening batsman, puts the row into perspective.
"Warnie's comments... I was really disappointed with that. Steve Waugh is without doubt... you talk about selfish, he is probably one of the most selfless players I ever played with."
Langer is the Western Australia coach and has been tipped as the most likely successor to Darren Lehmann as Australia head coach.
The tone of his comments was echoed by Matthew Hayden, his friend and opening partner during the greatest days of Waugh's side, who ruled the cricket world from 1999 to 2004.
"Steve was a leader for the 'little people'," Hayden said. "Unless I am a bad judge, I say Steve Waugh takes his place rightly and respectfully as a unique Australian sporting treasure."
Waugh responded on Friday, saying the decision to drop Warne was difficult but part of his job.
"To be fair, not only Shane, any player I had to tell was dropped wasn't easy," he said. "As a captain that is the hardest thing to do.
"But it's also why you're captain, because people expect you to make the tough decisions for the benefit of the team. You have got to do that at times and you have got to be prepared not to be liked by everyone."
Waugh, who played 168 Tests, 57 as captain, has previously admitted the decision to dump Warne cost him his friendship with the spin king, but in his book The Meaning Of Luck said it helped shape and define him as a captain.
THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE