In defence of Justin Langer's compaint about a player walking out with a toasted sandwich in his pocket, as a rule Test cricketers shouldn't take to the field secreting any form of cheesy lava-filled snack on their person. For fielders, it’s something of a trade-off, the extra warmth granted to the palms outweighed by the risk of greasiness if the toastie is made with any reasonable degree of proficiency. Furthermore, the opportunist nature of when the sandwich must be eaten means there is danger of it being consumed too soon, resulting in nasty roof of mouth burns which, for Australians, means impeded chirping and, for everyone else, impeded schadenfreude.
Andrew Wu @wutubeSources say some senior players are frustrated at the atmosphere in the team being brought down by the coach’s shifting emotions and what they see as too much micro-management. | @ChrisBarrett_ https://t.co/DoLZmeVZTw
If it was a batsman Langer was speaking to, there is more cause for leniency. Taking out a snack shows confidence in your game. It also allows larger players to rebuff sledging in relation to their figures. Ian Healy's jibe to Arjuna Ranatunga that, "You don't get a runner for being an overweight, fat c*nt," would have been significantly less stinging had the Sri Lankan captain then pulled out a toastie. Yet while these are serious permutations for CA to consider, they are not the crux of the matter.
Michael Atherton smearing chutney on the ball at Lord's in 1994
Langer, for all the cloying morality following Australia's last pocket-based farce (Cameron Bancroft's sandwiches must taste a bit rough), is ostensibly a decent man. His barefoot team meetings and bin kicking are elite fodder for mockery, but there should be a bit of leeway for those whose methods can appear a bit intense, Flowery even, if they worked for the coach in their own playing days. Or at least more leeway than than for the lay in-your-face guru. But there comes a point when you have to say, "Hang on a sec. Is this fucking bonkers?". And that point, surely, must come whenever a discussion on a player hiding a toasted sandwich in their pocket can be classified as having taken place "at length".
There is the immediate question of how to discuss a toasted sandwich "at length". Had it been Warne smuggling out a bit of pizza, his infinite ruminations on toppings, as revealed during every commentary stint, would clock up the minutes. A toastie seems an odd thing to have a long chat about, whatever the obviously manifold ethical issues concerned.
Most damning for Langer, though, is that he apparently offers up this information in evidence the team is in safe hands. That not only did he address this pressing matter, but that he did it with due diligence. Other, more negligent, coaches might have had just a brief chat about toasted sandwiches in pockets, but not me, he appears to be suggesting.
It's a silly story in essence, but if a coach is defending themselves on the basis of their hard-line and meticulous stance on toasties, it's a pretty fair sign things in Australia's camp, as they head back to South Africa, are not filled with joy.