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Langer Learns To Embrace His Inner Hippie

Grit, love, and loyalty.

These are the three defining attributes of self-labelled hippie Justin Langer that have helped him achieve success in every aspect of his life, most noticeably on the cricket field.

During his early playing days, Langer was serious. So serious in fact that his former batting coach Bob Meuleman ordered him to relax more.

Langer couldn't understand it at the time. How can you relax, when success is purely dictated by hard work?

As the years wore on, Langer learnt it wasn't that simplistic. There were far more pieces to the puzzle. And from there, the hippie inside him started to grow.

Discipline has never been a problem for Langer. Martial arts has been a big part of his life since his school days, and he even earned a black belt in Zen Do Kai along the way.

As a player in Australia's star-studded Test side, Langer was unfashionable.

While others stood out for their finesse, Langer was renowned for his grit and determination.

A painful blow to the body or head would garner little more than a wry smile from the tough-as-nails batsman.

Sometimes, his bravery went too far.

In 2006, Langer was struck on the head by a brutal bouncer from South African paceman Makhaya Ntini.

Langer was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with one of the worst concussions ever seen in Australian cricket.

It was so bad he was told he risked death if he tried to bat again during that Test match.

Nevertheless, Langer padded up as the game reached its climax, determined to bat if Australia lost one more wicket.

Fortunately for Langer, Australia won with two wickets to spare and he wasn't needed.

The Australian public got a little glimpse into Langer the hippie during significant moments in his opening partnership with Matthew Hayden.

The on-field hugs the pair shared represented not only the strong bond between them but also Langer's growing ease at expressing love in an outward manner.

It was a trait that served him well when he took over as coach of Western Australia in 2012.

The WACA was in disarray at the time, with the culture of the team at rock bottom. As Langer put it, the team was featuring more on the front page of newspapers, rather than the back.

Langer's first order of business? Giving chief executive Christina Matthews a hug.

The WACA had become what Langer described as a dysfunctional family.

He immediately went to work on repairing the fractures and success quickly followed.

Players became fitter than ever under Langer's tutelage.

Two one-day titles and three Twenty20 crowns would follow, along with two appearances in the Sheffield Shield final.

The Warriors now have six players on central contracts in the Australian set-up, more than any other state.

Just like he did at WA, Langer is now tasked with fixing a fractious Australian national team, still reeling from the ball tampering scandal in South Africa.

Langer has already signalled his intent to create an environment of "elite mateship".

As for his hippie side? It's not restricted to the occasional public hug anymore.

He's encouraging his players to express their loving side as well.

"One month every year I like to grow a beard and not wear shoes," Langer said.

"You can't be great at anything without being a bit different, and I am a bit different.

"It used to worry me when I was younger, but now I'm really comfortable in my own skin.

"I like to work, train, meditate, and be a bit of a hippie when I can.

"I like people being a bit different."


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