Brush with fame: Justin Langer

Last Friday on my long run I ran into Justin Langer.

Not literally. Man, that would have been embarrassing...

But then again, I said something kind of lame anyway so I might as well have made a complete fool of myself by bumping smack bang into him...

But more what I said later. Let's focus on why I said it (even if it came out all wrong).

I love Justin Langer. Not that way. Just in the way that blokes love blokes. Even though I'm not a bloke, I think this kind of affection is not only acceptable, but fitting. After all, JL is one of the best blokes going around.

Here's my best shot at capturing the many reasons why I think it's impossible not to love Justin Langer.

Justin Langer opened the batting for Australia's cricket team, along with Matthew Hayden, for as long as I can remember. OK, I'm exaggerating. I can recall other opening batsmen both before and after JL. But he is still my favourite. Last year when we went to the first test I was just as excited to catch a glimpse of JL (the then Australian batting coach) as I was any of the actual current players.

His friendship with his partner at the top of the order was apparent. They supported each other, encouraged each other, and were never averse to a manly celebratory cuddle out there in the middle for the milestones they reached.

He played with discipline, skill and respect for his position. While many cricketers have had to fight for their position in the Australian team in the same way as JL, not many cemented a spot that was unique to them. Above and beyond his bond with Haydos, there seemed to be a kind of spiritual leadership of the team... like their Yoda or something.

He obviously loved what he did - he played consistently at the top level for nearly 20 years. In July 2009, after retiring from international cricket, JL surpassed Don Bradman's record for the most first class runs by an Australian batsman, and he still holds the record despite recent memorable efforts by the likes of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. Even outside of test cricket, JL was a workhorse, playing season in, season out in the Australian domestic and English county cricket. It was in England that he scored the record breaking runs, and because it wasn't for Australia the record didn't get much of a run in the media here, unfortunately. I think it deserved more.

He's a thinker and a self-reflector. If you Like him on Facebook or read the blog entries he writes for Cricket Australia, you'll know that he reflects on success and failures equally, and uses each experience to learn more about himself, others, and how to improve for next time.

These blog entries are an excellent insight into JL's eloquence and integrity. Who else gets away with questioning the policy of an organisation on their own corporate blog? JL did this recently, providing expert opinion for Cricket Australia on the rotation / resting policy. He seems to express himself fully when he writes. There isn't generally any doubt where he stands on the issues at hand, but he never comes across as outspoken or opinionated.

So yes, in my eyes there is a lot to love and not much not to love about Justin Lee Langer. It isn't just an admiration of his skill as a sportsperson, the way he conducts himself, or his success in the public eye. Especially in the way that he writes and reflects, I kind of feel like he's the kind of person I would be friends with if we were neighbours or workmates.

Despite this probably quite inappropriate familiarity, I found myself feeling kind of star struck when someone who looked distinctly like Justin Langer ran towards me on last week's long run.

On first glance it could have been anybody. But it really, really looked like him.

I stopped in my tracks and wondered what to do while he passed by.

"Hey!" I yelled after him. "Are you Justin Langer?"

He didn't break his stride, but gave me a thumbs up.

I stayed rooted to the ground and wondered what on earth people say in these situations.

"I'm a big fan!"

Yes I know. Lame. But at least it got a response. It was JL's turn to stop, turn around and look at me. I gave him a wave or a thumbs up, or something. I think. Or maybe I didn't. Maybe I just turned around and resumed my run.

I was, after all, only half way. I had another 14ks to go. 

No matter how ridiculous my words were, JL being the bloke he is, I think he would have respected my actions.


  1. Great post, AP! I've been star struck on a number of occasions, but never for such valid reasons. I love reading why you admire Justin, and that you, like me, can be tongue tied in such situations! You rock.