Australia head coach Justin Langer has revealed he almost quit playing international cricket in 2001 when he was dropped from the playing XI on the eve of first Ashes Test.

Having recorded two half-centuries in his last 10 innings and failing to convert starts, the then No. 3 Langer was dropped as Australia launched their Ashes defence in England. Ricky Ponting was promoted in his place and Damien Martyn was slotted in at No. 6.

Down and out, Langer thought his Australia career has ended for good.

“Literally, the week before I opened for the first time with Haydos (at The Oval), I told all my family I’m getting on a plane and leaving (and) I’m going home,” Langer told ABC. “I couldn’t make a run, I thought I’d failed (and) I’d never play for Australia again. I’d been dropped at the start of the series when I thought I was going to play.”

Having made up his mind to retire, Langer was shocked when the then captain Steve Waugh asked him to open the innings alongside Matthew Hayden in the fifth and final Test with Australia already leading the series 4-1.

“My wife had flown over because I was going to retire the week before. I was so down in the dumps … and out of nowhere, Steve Waugh rings me and says; ‘you’re going to open the batting tomorrow’,” he recalled.

Opening the innings for the first time, the lefty went on to score 102 not out – the first of his 16 centuries as an opener. Langer has time and again said that the series was the turning point in his career.

“It was another great lesson. If you just hang in there, you never know what’s around the corner,” he said.