So single-minded a Test cricketer was Justin Langer that team-mates have often spoken of the almost monastic fanaticism with which he pursued team and individual success for Australia. So it was telling that he spoke with enormous admiration for the cricketer David Warner has become, epitomised by his busy intensity in Australia's victory in their tri-series opener against West Indies.
The past week in New York and Guyana has been the first time Langer was able to get a look at Warner up close since he resigned as Australia's assistant coach to take up the head coach role with Western Australia in November 2012. At that point, Warner's performances were strong enough, but he was on a spiral of bad behaviour that led to his suspension from part of the 2013 Ashes tour for throwing a punch at Joe Root in a Birmingham nightclub.
Three years on, Langer speaks of Warner in the same way as he does about former team-mates and close friends Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden - an unlikely scenario in the past, and a measure of how far the teetotal and focused Warner has come. This applied not only to the national team, but also to his work for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL, where Warner played a large part in securing the trophy for his side.
"I just admire David Warner so much, it's not just his performances on the field but his actions off the field," Langer said ahead of Australia's second match against South Africa on Tuesday. "He'd probably be the first to admit that a few years ago he was pretty hard to manage; he liked to do things his way. But really he looks super-focused at the moment. He's super-fit, you see his running between the wickets, he's an elite athlete now and that takes great discipline.
"He's been rewarded for that, he's been rewarded for his discipline and he should be really proud of the fact he has become a great role model for our young Australian cricketers and cricketers around the world. He's become so fit and disciplined in what he's doing and he's so consistent, that's what great players do. I really respect David Warner's career, but I really respect his last year or so, because you can really tell, like a lot of great players do, there's a trigger moment where he really switched on and he's now cashing in on that."
(Published by espncricinfo.com)