Having described himself as the director of a soap opera a fortnight ago, Australia coach Justin Langer has become part of the cast by angrily hitting out at "careless whispers" fuelling the Glenn Maxwell Test cricket selection storm.
Langer was involved in a tense exchange with a journalist in Sydney when pressed on Maxwell's Test hopes, growing even more "grumpy" when the line of questioning focused on why the allrounder was allegedly advised by Cricket Australia (CA) last year to turn down an English county gig.
Maxwell detailed in a radio interview last year how he rejected offers to play domestic cricket in England, believing he would be part of Australia A's tour of India then hopefully earn selection in the ensuing Test series against Pakistan.
"Maybe a little bit," Maxwell said at the time, when asked if he felt misled.
The Victorian wasn't picked in either of those squads, prompting speculation about whether it was a case of mistruth, mistreatment, miscommunication, misunderstanding or misadvice.
It's understood the Australia A tour of India was flagged as a key goal in Maxwell's formal player development strategy, part of CA's high-performance unit that is currently under review following Pat Howard's sacking.
It's unclear how discussions unfolded between Howard and Maxwell, and between selectors and Howard, at the time.
Langer, appointed head coach in May, and Maxwell, keen to stay out of the headlines, both want to move on from the saga and focus on Saturday's ODI series opener against India.
Selectors, desperate for more players to be exposed to English conditions, are puzzled by the notion they would actively counsel anyone against playing county cricket.
Langer, arguably showing the strain of a taxing month in which he and his team copped widespread criticism amid a 2-1 series loss to India, asked the reporter twice "are you certain that's what happened?" then three times "did it happen?" regarding the county directive.
"You're telling me it did happen," he said during the heated back-and-forth.
"I've got zero knowledge of that ... careless whispers, eh?
"Sorry for getting grumpy.
"I don't like getting grumpy but there's so many stories that go around about so much stuff.
"The truth is a beautiful thing."
Maxwell, who hasn't played a Test since Australia's 2017 tour of Bangladesh, was overlooked again for a two-Test series against Sri Lanka that starts later this month.
Langer echoed the sentiment of chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns, who insisted on Wednesday it was wrong to infer that Maxwell's character or behaviour were being held against him.
"There's been some reports about personality. It is literally false," the former Test opener said.
"All the conjecture about it, that's all part of the noise.
"Glenn is crystal clear from me and the selectors, what he needs to do to get back in the Test team.
"He's shown he is brilliant around the group in white-ball cricket."
Australian Associated Press