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McDonald hits back at Vaughan over claims of plotting against Langer at pub


Andrew McDonald has hit back at claims from former England captain Michael Vaughan about how the assistant coach and senior players were “caught out” at a secret pub meeting before Justin Langer’s departure as Australian coach.

McDonald, who has since been appointed interim coach for the tour of Pakistan, said there were “a lot of mistruths” in the reports about the meeting and Vaughan’s version of events “is not entirely accurate” in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

Vaughan had claimed McDonald, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and David Warner had met in a pub after the team had flown to Hobart for the final Ashes Test last month.

He insinuated they were plotting against Langer, who was subsequently offered a six-month contract extension by Cricket Australia and resigned.

“I know from close contacts in the England journalistic world that Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, and Andrew McDonald were caught having conversations in a pub in Hobart. That conversation was heard by two or three British journalists,” the 2005 Ashes-winning skipper said on the Fox Cricket Follow-On podcast.

“My advice to Pat Cummins would be, if you’re going to have strong conversations about the potential removal of your Australian cricket coach, who was in position at the time, don’t do it at a pub. Do not do it in a public domain where you may get heard.

“That’s how all these stories started. It was quite clear that they wanted Justin Langer out, and evident they were talking about the likes of Trevor Bayliss, Michael Di Venuto and Andrew McDonald, who was in that conversation as well.

“They can deny it as much as they want, but the two or three journalists that I know of who were there were in the pub listening. When you’re an international captain, just be careful where you have that conversation.”

McDonald countered by saying there were more than four or five people at the impromptu gathering and as many as 10 at one stage.

“I don’t think the story is entirely accurate … a lot of mistruths to that story,” McDonald said. “I don’t know how those things take shape or come to light.”

Whether McDonald replaces Langer on a full-time basis is yet to be decided.

The interim coach also said he hadn’t officially put his hat in the ring for the permanent job following Langer’s resignation, despite the likelihood of Cricket Australia settling on a replacement mid-tour.

The Test squad will depart this weekend for Australian cricket’s first tour of any kind since Mark Taylor’s men visited in 1998. McDonald said Steve Smith would be right to play the first Test in Rawalpindi on March 4 after suffering a concussion at the SCG in the recent 4-1 win over Sri Lanka in their T20 series.

McDonald also all but confirmed Usman Khawaja’s spot at the top of the order in his native Pakistan.

He insisted the coaching decision won’t distract him, even though he admits he’ll need to make a call “once we see what the job looks like”.

“I haven’t had any conversations … there’s been speculation around whether it’ll be split roles or one coach,” McDonald said. 

“That will all come out, but the key thing for us is to focus on the cricket. Clearly I’ll have to make a decision before that [series finishes] if the process is run to the timeline CA are giving.”

Michael Vaughan.

Michael Vaughan. (Getty Images)

The former Test all-rounder backed Khawaja to partner fellow 35-year-old David Warner at the top of the order and endorsed Cameron Green’s ability as the third seamer to accommodate two spinners.

He said Marcus Harris, who has returned to form for Victoria since Khawaja forced his way back to the top of the Australian order in the last Ashes Test, could still feature in a different role in Pakistan.

“He’s going well, putting runs on the board which is not uncommon for Marcus to be making lots of runs at Sheffield Shield level,” McDonald said.

“He’s an option, we know what he can do, can he fit into the middle order if something were to go awry there? That’s a potential as well.

“Usman you would say is a fair chance to start in the first Test match after what he did this summer, but we have options, competition for spots and that’s healthy.”

McDonald is confident the squad will be versatile enough to cope with whatever is presented.

“It’s a little bit of the unknown and that’s always exciting, going somewhere where you haven’t before, there’s no recent trends there,” he said.

Usman Khawaja celebrates.

Usman Khawaja celebrates scoring a century during day two of the fourth Test. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“You say Pakistan are unpredictable, but in their own conditions there is an element of predictability.

“They like to draw games out, they play the long game, they’re patient.

“It’s been well documented that Australian teams travelling to the subcontinent have had difficulty. It’s a new era … so we get a chance to write our own chapter.”

Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz has been ruled out of next month’s three-Test series against Australia with a foot injury in a major blow for the hosts.

The Pakistan Cricket Board said on Wednesday that bowler Naseem Shah and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed have been added to the squad as travelling reserves and will only be considered for selection if there is an injury.


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