Six things we learned about the Australian cricket team from the second season of The Test documentary
The advent of Pat Cummins’ reign as Australia’s Test captain and Justin Langer’s controversial departure are the focus of the second season of The Test, Amazon’s behind-the-scenes documentary about the Australia cricket team.
The four-part series, released worldwide on Friday, covers a 4-0 win over England in the Ashes and the aftermath of Tim Paine’s retirement and Lang’s departure.
The duo both had prominent roles in the first season of The Test but are notable for their absence in season two as the former coach resigns halfway through filming the documentary.
From Cummins’ captaincy and the team’s desire to move in a different direction after Langer, to Australia’s first Test series in Pakistan in 24 years, there is, as the saying goes, much to unpack in The Test’s second season.
Here, sports mail takes a look at what we’ve learned from the documentation.
Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschgne stand alongside Cricket Australia staff at the premiere of The Test Season Two
Players felt that Justin Langer did a great job
Justin Langer had a prominent role in the first season, but resigned halfway through filming the four-part sequel under acrimonious circumstances.
While the former Australia opener may be conspicuous by his absence, his shadow lingers throughout the show, with the players making it clear they feel the time has come for a change of manager.
However, if you dig a little deeper, their admiration and genuine gratitude for Langer is evident.
“He was brilliant when we needed him in those early years,” Pat Cummins says of the former coach at the beginning of Episode 3, while Steve Smith notes that Langer “left the team in a better place than when we started.”
Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh, in turn, credit the 51-year-old with reviving the Australian team after the Sandpapergate scandal in South Africa in 2018.
“Where the Australian team is at right now is a byproduct of what JL brought to the group,” says Khawaja, who credits Langer in the opening episode with bringing “the humility back to the Australian cricket team”.
Marsh adopts a similar tone, noting that Langer has rebuilt Australia’s profile in the wake of the Cape Town scandal.
“After South Africa he turned it around and we became a team that Australian fans wanted to support again,” he says.
EPISODE 3 – 03:08-03:15
Australia’s Tim Paine, left, talks to bowler Pat Cummins during the match on day three of the Fourth Test of Cricket between India and Australia at the Gabba
Pat Cummins had doubts about becoming captain
Pat Cummins might have been an almost unanimous choice to replace Tim Paine, but the man himself wasn’t too keen on the captaincy.
In the series opener, the Australian is quick to reveal that he felt he had “enough work to do” even without the added responsibility of becoming a skipper as he just “loves to go out and bowl”.
Significantly, Cummins admits he made his decision after considering he’d take on some “really good buddies” as captain if he took the job.
“I absolutely love her and feel like I could do a really good job,” he explains.
EPISODE 1 – 11:58-12:14
Usman Khawaja of Australia is seen with daughter Aisha during day five of the third Test match in the series between Australia and South Africa at Sydney Cricket Ground
Usman Khawaja emerges as leader
Usman Khawaja is one of The Test’s most prominent voices, revealing he thought his Test career was over after being dropped after the third Test of the 2019 Ashes series in England.
Khawaja, who batted at No. 3, made 13 and 40 in the opening Test at Edgbaston, followed by 36 and 2 at Lord’s and 8 and 23 at Leeds and felt he had nothing to add to his 45 Tests.
‘It [being dropped] was a knife in my heart,” he admits in the opening scenes of Episode 3.
“I admitted that this was my last test. It felt really dark at the moment.’
Coincidentally, Khawaja was back on the team for the New Year’s Test at the SCG 18 months later, replacing Travis Head and taking his chance by scoring a ton in both innings.
The 35-year-old hasn’t looked back since, rising in the order of David Warner, who won two centuries in the series in Pakistan, which he finished as the top run scorer.
And throughout the series it’s clear that Khawaja has established himself as one of Australia’s leaders off the field as well.
He opens up about his faith and reveals he was hurt by discrimination growing up in Sydney as the son of Pakistani immigrants without seeing “Australian Muslim role models”, before educating his teammates about the cultural aspects of his native Pakistan ahead of the tour .
EPISODE 2: 1:08-1:16
Maxwell opened up about his struggles with depression on The Test season two. He spoke about the support from Cricket Australia team-mates and coaches
Glenn Maxwell talks about depression
Arguably the documentary’s most poignant moment comes in Episode 4, where Glenn Maxwell speaks candidly about suffering from depression in 2019 and revealing his mental health struggles.
“I tried to fake everything I did. I went through depression and it was on the back of 18 long months of trying to do everything right,” says the Aussie all-rounder.
“I raised my hand as I was struggling if I hadn’t let go of it… a few weeks later who knows where I would have been. This could have been the end.
“I just wouldn’t have had anything left to aim for and that could have been it.”
Reflecting on his struggles, Maxwell explains that over the past four years he’s often attempted to speak to teammates and coaches whenever “something was bothering me or was on my mind.”
The 34-year-old is brutally honest about his struggles and his words will no doubt resonate with many.
“Once you can get those words out and not hold onto them, it can be a relief [to have that weight] off your shoulders,” he says.
“I think having a lot more people in the squad that I’m probably more open with has helped.”
Cummins of Australia watches the third test match in the series between Australia and South Africa at Sydney Cricket Ground on day five
The moment Pat Cummins got his due
Cummins might have needed convincing to take the captaincy, but he wasted no time in making the team his own as he shielded his teammates from criticism after Justin Langer’s departure.
In Episode 3, the Australian skipper reads out the statement he released in response to criticism from some former players who accused the team of staging Langer’s abrupt defenestration.
Cummins welcomed her support of Langer but made it clear that just as they “have always stood up for their buddies, I will stand up for mine.”
Ashton Agar and Nathan Lyon detailed the reaction to the moment Cummins came into his own as captain.
“He was incredible. He was articulate, he was thoughtful and he was supportive of his players,” says the former, while the Star-Off spinner described Cummins’ statement as “the mark of a very strong captain.’
EPISODE 1 – 05:17-05:29
Former Australia head coach Justin Langer speaks with former assistant coach Andrew McDonald ahead of day four of the second friendly match between Australia and India
The amazing silence of Cricket Australia
Given the emphasis Season 2 of The Test is putting on the new course Australia is taking following Justin Langer’s retirement, Cricket Australia’s silence during the show is disconcerting.
New manager Andrew McDonald features throughout the documentary but is never interviewed directly, and the same goes for Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley and Chief Selector George Bailey.
As understandable as allowing the team to shape its own narrative is, the cricket manager’s lack of insight into such an important issue feels like a missed opportunity.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-11623131/Six-things-learnt-second-season-Test-documentary-Australias-cricket-team.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Six things we learned about the Australian cricket team from the second season of The Test documentary