London: In an amazing document detailing the thoughts of Somerset captain and former Australia opener Justin Langer, English cricketers are witheringly described as "lazy", "shallow" and "flat", and as players who “love being comfortable".
Fast bowler James Anderson can be “a bit of a pussy" if things do not go his way and skipper Andrew Strauss can be too “conservative". And there are barbs at the egos of Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, as well as the annoying strut of Ravi Bopara.
A copy of the dossier, leaked to The Telegraph last week and printed in full inside, was handed to the whole Australia squad before the first Test.
It will shock cricket followers in this country. In it Langer roundly condemns English cricketers" attitudes and apparent lack of fight in the battle, surprising given that it was only last season that Langer was proclaiming that the standard of cricket in division one of the County Championship was as tough as anything he had ever experienced in first-class cricket.
“English players rarely believe in themselves. Many of them stare a lot and chat a lot but this is very shallow. They will retreat very quickly. Aggressive batting, running and body language will soon have them staring at their bootlaces rather than in the eyes of their opponent — it is just how they are built," Langer says.
He emphasises the point by describing English cricketers as “great front runners".
He continues: “Because of the way they are programmed, they will be up when things are going well, but they will taper off very quickly if you wear them down. Because they play so much cricket as soon as it gets a bit hard, you just have to watch their body language and see how flat and lazy they get. This is also a time when most of them make all sorts of excuses and start looking around to point the finger at everyone else — it is a classic English trait from my experience."
Langer also warned this Australian side not to repeat the mistakes of 2005 and be too friendly with the England team.
As for the edict from Cricket Australia that Australian players should not sledge in this series, Langer immediately dismisses it.
Worryingly, Michael Vaughan, England"s Ashes-winning captain in 2005, agrees with many of Langer"s assertions.