Australia’s coach Justin Langer has counselled Steven Smith and David Warner to turn the other cheek to the Barmy Army’s inevitable barbs in England this summer, having reflected on how he made himself the focus of their tuneful banter as a player.
During the 2002 Boxing Day Test, Langer made 250 and followed up by attacking the Barmy Army for baiting Brett Lee with shouts of “no-ball”, saying in part: “These people stand behind a fence drinking beer with most of them 50 kilos overweight making ridiculous comments,” Langer said at the time. “It’s easy for someone to say that from behind a fence, they’re within their rights because they’ve paid their money, but there’s still some integrity in life, I think.”
From then on, Langer seldom had any peace from the supporters group, something he recounted in Brisbane on Friday. “This is the biggest, probably, lesson of my sporting career,” he said. “I just got 250 so I walked in, I think I’m Viv Richards, I feel like I’ve got the gold chain and the chest out and like I’m the king … and I made one comment about the Barmy Army because I was sticking up for Brett Lee. Then they start singing the song about the seven dwarfs, so you don’t mess with the Barmy Army. I’m not messing with the Barmy Army.
“One thing I respect about the Barmy Army, through thick and thin they always barrack for the England cricket team. We’re never going to be best friends but…I’ll never argue with the Barmy Army again. The songs are humiliating.
“I think there’s going to be plenty of spotlight on the whole team. The boys are big boys now, they’ve worked through a real tough 12 months, they’ll be thicker skinned for it. There’s no real remedy for it, we know what we’re going to get, we’ll be ready for it. There will be some strategies, personal and collective strategies in place so together we’re moving in the right direction and going on with what we love doing which is playing cricket and World Cup and Ashes cricket – it doesn’t get much better than that.”