Australian cricket legend Justin Langer says he remembers the moment “like it was yesterday”.
In an extraordinary column for The West Australian, Langer has recalled the death of his good friend and West Coast hero Chris Mainwaring.
Click here to read Langer’s full column in The West Australian.
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The Mainwaring tragedy in 2007 rocked the AFL world and beyond.
He was found dead in his home and the WA State Coroner’s report later revealed it was caused by a cocaine overdose.
The 41-year-old was an icon on the WA sporting landscape and, as Langer said, “much loved” by all those knew him.
Chris Mainwaring with the 1992 premiership cup after West Coast’s triumph over Geelong. Credit: Getty Images
His glittering football career came to a grinding halt after 201 games at the end of 1999.
He was a two-time premiership player, and was runner-up in West Coast’s best-and-fairest three times.
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After football he was a popular sports presenter and in 2005 he was inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame.
Langer — who wears many hats, including commentating for Seven — said he was preparing for a charity boxing match with Mainwaring at the time of the retired football star’s death.
“We had trained together the day before at Aspire Gym …,” Langer revealed.
“The next morning, I arrived early at a West Australian cricket training session. As I jumped out of the car, I was greeted by our strength and conditioning trainer Greg Harding who had a worrying look on his face.”
Langer asked Harding if everything was OK to which Harding told him that Mainwaring had been found dead.
“You know that moment when time stands still? It did then,” Langer wrote in his column.
“Nothing made sense for a few seconds, as my brain computed the information that had just been shared with me.”
There were many moving scenes at the public memorial service in the Christ Church Grammar School chapel, including the sight of Mainwaring’s wife, Rani, and then young son, Zac (who was wearing his dad’s famous No.3) placing jelly beans on the casket.
And Langer also revealed that a poem that had been read out, called One Day at a Time, had a profound and long-lasting effect on him.
“So moved was I by the words, I had them printed on a large canvas that has sat broadly on a wall in my house for the last 16 years,” Langer said.
The poem says ‘there are two days in every week about which we should not worry’, and they are yesterday and tomorrow.
Langer said he often thought about those words to remind him to stay in the moment and enjoy “the great experiences as they occur”.
He said he used a similar mantra when he was batting for Australia.
“Part of my pre-ball routine and mantra was to say, “this ball”, before every ball I faced,” Langer said.
“These two simple words reminded me to totally engulf myself in the contest of the moment.
“If I thought about the ball before, or what might happen a few balls later, my concentration was compromised. And compromised concentration equalled failure.”