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June 14, 2013
Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, has described David Warner's attack on Joe Root as "a despicable thing" and said Warner was extremely fortunate to still be available for Ashes selection. Sutherland also slammed the wider playing group and team management for the events that unfolded at the weekend, questioning why Warner and a group of Australian players were out drinking in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The usually mild-mannered Sutherland was clearly livid during a press conference on Friday in Brisbane, where he said Warner's public apology in London on Thursday meant little. Sutherland said there could have been no justification for Warner's physical attack on an opposition player and that Warner was bringing "the game, his team and his team-mates down".
"David Warner has done a despicable thing," Sutherland said. "But I also hold the team to account here. There were other people there with him and those that were there need to take responsibility for that, but so does the team as a whole and the team management group as a whole.
"There is no place for violence anywhere and I'm extremely disappointed in that. I'm extremely disappointed in him and I have told him that ... There were certain things that led to this situation that happened, as I understand it, at 2.30 in the morning. There's not a lot of good that happens at 2.30 in the morning in a pub or a nightclub. I believe that the team as a whole and the people who were around him at the time also need to take responsibility for what happened."
As well as Warner and a group of England players, a number of other Australians including Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell, Phillip Hughes and Clint McKay were reported to have been at the Walkabout pub in Birmingham when Warner's punch at Root occurred. Australia's stand-in captain George Bailey said on Wednesday it had been "a minor incident" that had been dealt with in-house.
But Cricket Australia and its Code of Behaviour commissioner Gordon Lewis, a retired County Court judge, took the altercation seriously and at a hearing on Thursday Lewis imposed an A$11,500 fine on Warner and suspended him until the first Ashes Test. Lewis made his decision independently and while Sutherland said Cricket Australia was comfortable with the punishment, he said Warner could count himself fortunate to be available for Ashes selection.
"I think he's very lucky," Sutherland said. "It could have been a lot worse, couldn't it? It should never have got to that and as it stands, yes, he is lucky to be available for selection ... Cricket people know it's going to be very, very hard for David Warner to get selected for the first Test match. He can't play cricket until the first Test match starts.
"I note that overnight he has made comments apologising for what he has done and expressing remorse for his actions. That's all well and good. It counts for a little bit, but not much. What really counts is his actions going forward in the future, and we're watching those very closely."
Warner's public apology came less than a month after he faced the media in Sydney to express his regret at a foul-mouthed Twitter rant at two Australian journalists, which earned him a A$5750 fine. The incident in Birmingham was clearly far more serious and while Sutherland stopped short of declaring that Warner was on a final warning, he said the batsman had been put under no illusions as to the direction his career was heading if he did not change his behaviour.
"There is no excuse for what happened on Saturday night," he said. "I don't care what explanations people might want to put up, there is no place for violence in society and there is no place for Australian cricketers to be finding themselves in that position."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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