The advent of Pat Cummins’ reign as Australia’s Test captain and Justin Langer’s controversial exit are the focus of the second season of The Test, Amazon’s behind-the-scenes documentary on the Aussie cricket team.
Released worldwide on Friday, the four-part series encompasses a 4-0 hammering of England in the Ashes and the fallout from Tim Paine’s resignation and Langer’s departure.
The duo both featured prominently in the first series of The Test, but are conspicuous by their absence in the second season with the former coach stepping down halfway through the filming of the documentary.
From Cummins’ captaincy and the team’s desire to move in a different direction post-Langer to Australia’s first Test series in Pakistan in 24 years there is, as the saying goes, a lot to unpack in the second season of The Test.
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at what we have learnt from the documentary.
Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschgne stand alongisde Cricket Australia staff at the premiere of The Test Season Two
Players felt Justin Langer did a great job
Justin Langer featured prominently during the first season but resigned in acrimonious circumstances halfway through the filming of the four-part sequel.
While the former Aussie opener may be conspicuous by his absence, his shadow lingers throughout the show with players making it clear they felt the time was ripe for a coaching change.
Dig a little deeper, however, and their admiration and genuine gratitude for Langer is evident.
‘He was brilliant when we needed him in those initial years,’ Pat Cummins says of the former coach at the beginning of Episode 3, while Steve Smith notes that Langer ‘left the team in a better place than it was when he started.’
Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh, meanwhile, both credit the 51-year-old with revitalising the Australian team following the Sandpapergate scandal in South Africa in 2018.
‘Where the Australia team is right now is a byproduct of what JL brought into the group,’ says Khawaja, who in the opening episode credits Langer with bringing ‘humility back into the Australia cricket team’.
Marsh strikes a similar tone, noting Langer rebuilt Australia’s profile after the Cape Town scandal.
‘After South Africa, he turned it around and we became a team Australian fans wanted to support again,’ he says.
EPISODE 3 – 03:08-03:15
Australia’s Tim Paine, left, talks with bowler Pat Cummins during play on day three of the fourth cricket test between India and Australia at the Gabba
Pat Cummins had doubts about becoming captain
Pat Cummins may have been a near-unanimous choice to replace Tim Paine, but the man himself wasn’t too keen on the captaincy.
In the series opener, the Aussie quick reveals he felt he had ‘enough going on’ even without the added responsibilities of becoming skipper as he just ‘love going out and bowl’.
Tellingly, Cummins admits he made his decision after considering he would captain some ‘really good mates’ if he took the job.
‘I love them to death and I feel like I could do a really good job,’ he explains.
EPISODE 1 – 11:58-12:14
Usman Khawaja of Australia is seen with daughter Aisha during day five of the Third Test match in the series between Australia and South Africa at Sydney Cricket Ground
Usman Khawaja emerges as a leader
Usman Khawaja is one of The Test’s most prominent voices and reveals he thought his Test career was over after being dropped following the third Test of the 2019 Ashes series in England.
Batting at No3, Khawaja made 13 and 40 in the opening Test at Edgbaston, followed up by 36 and 2 at Lord’s and 8 and 23 in Leeds and felt he would not get to add to his 45 Tests.
‘It [being dropped] was a knife to my heart,’ he admits in the opening scenes of Episode 3.
‘I had conceded that was my last Test. It felt really dark at the moment.’
As it happens, Khawaja was back in the team for the New Year’s Day Test at the SCG 18 months later as he replaced Travis Head and seized his chance by scoring a ton in both innings.
The 35-year-old hasn’t looked back since and moved up the order to partner David Warner, scoring two centuries in the series win in Pakistan, which he finished as the top run-scorer.
And throughout the series it becomes clear Khawaja has established himself as one of Australia’s leaders off the field too.
He discusses his faith and reveals he was hurt by discrimination while growing up as the son of Pakistani immigrants in Sydney with ‘no Australian Muslim role model’ to look up, before educating his teammates about the cultural aspects of his homeland ahead of the tour to Pakistan.
EPISODE 2: 1:08-1:16
Maxwell opened up about his battles with depression in the second season of The Test. He spoke about the support provided by Cricket Australia teammates and coaches
Glenn Maxwell opens up on depression
Arguably the most poignant moment of the documentary comes in Episode 4, where Glenn Maxwell opens up on suffering from depression in 2019 and reveals his mental health struggles.
‘I tried to fake everything I did. I went through depression and that was on the back of 18 long months of trying to do everything right by anyone else,’ the Aussie all-rounder says.
‘I put my hand up when I was struggling, if I hadn’t let it go… a couple of weeks later who knows where I would have been. That could have been the end.
‘I just wouldn’t have had nothing more to aim for and that could have been it.’
Reflecting on his struggles, Maxwell explains that in the past four years he has often sought to speak with teammates and coaches whenever ‘I had something niggling me or on my mind’.
The 34-year-old is brutally honest about his struggles and his words will undoubtedly resonate with many.
‘As soon as you get those words out and you’re not holding them in, it can be a relief [to have that weight] off your shoulders,’ he says.
‘I think having a lot more guys in the squad that I feel probably more open to talking to has helped that’
Cummins of Australia looks on during day five of the Third Test match in the series between Australia and South Africa at Sydney Cricket Ground
The moment Pat Cummins came into his own
Cummins may have needed convincing to take on the captaincy, but he wasted no time in shaping the team as his own when he sheltered his teammates from criticism following Justin Langer’s exit.
In Episode 3, the Aussie skipper reads the statement he released in response to criticism from some former players, who accused the team of orchestrating Langer’s abrupt defenestration.
Cummins welcomed their support of Langer, but made clear just like they ‘have always stuck up for their mates, I will stick up for mine.’
Ashton Agar and Nathan Lyon pinpointed the response as the moment Cummins came into his own as captain.
‘He was incredible. He was eloquent, he was thoughtful and he was supportive of his players,’ the former says, while the star off-spinner describes Cummins statement as ‘the sign of a very strong captain.’
EPISODE 1 – 05:17-05:29
Former Australian head coach Justin Langer speaks with former assistant coach Andrew McDonald before day four of the second Test match between Australia and India
Cricket Australia’s baffling silence
Given the emphasis the second season of The Test places on the new course Australia embarks on after Justin Langer’s resignation, the silence from Cricket Australia through the show is puzzling.
New coach Andrew McDonald features throughout the documentary, but is never directly interviewed and the same goes for Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley and chief selector George Bailey.
Understandable as it is to allow the team to shape its own narrative, the lack of insight from cricket executive on such a crucial issue feels like a missed opportunity.