Australia news June 14, 2013

Misjudgments all round in Warner saga

David Warner will have to work hard and tread carefully to reclaim his spot in the Australia team
17

The Wedge is a mostly forgotten sketch comedy show that aired for a couple of seasons on Australian television six or seven years ago, but there was one recurring character who rang true then and still does now. Mark Wary, as played by actor Jason Gann, was a professional at some unspecified sport, who in every skit was at a press conference apologising for some controversial incident.

"I wish to apologise undeservedly," he reads from a crumpled piece of paper, before the suited manager sitting beside him interjects. "Unreservedly," the manager corrects. Later, the manager explains: "When you reach Mark's level of professional sport you are confronted by an exceptional amount of pressure," to which Mark adds "and champagne". Mark always has an excuse.

After two public apologies in three weeks, David Warner's strike-rate is starting to resemble that of the fictional Wary. At least, to Warner's credit, when he faced the media in London on Thursday he conceded he was lucky not to have been sent home and didn't try to offer justification for hitting Joe Root. Nor did he shrug it off as a "minor incident", as the stand-in captain George Bailey had the previous day.

It might have been trivial by bar-room skirmish standards but it seemed remarkable that a respected leader like Bailey would misjudge the situation, that an international cricketer laying hands on an opponent could ever be seen as minor. It certainly wasn't by James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, who on Friday fumed like he rarely has in more than a decade in the role.

There was an edge to Sutherland's voice on Friday and an uncharacteristic sharpness in his words. He called Warner's actions "despicable" and said his apology counted "for a little bit, but not much". What was a group of players doing at a pub at 2.30am during a tournament, he wondered out loud. He did not suggest a tour curfew but placed the onus on the team to decide what was in their own best interests.

Notably, he put the blame for Warner's actions on the entire squad, team management included. Drifting off-field standards cannot be allowed in England as they were in India to the point where the homework sackings were deemed necessary. Sutherland's performance was impressive; this was not a time to be gentle. And he is right to be concerned at how it came to this.

But while stricter ground rules might need to be enforced, coach Mickey Arthur and team manager Gavin Dovey should not have to act as babysitters, and Michael Clarke has enough to worry about in getting himself fit enough for the Ashes. The addition of experienced professionals such as Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Ed Cowan and Peter Siddle for the Tests will help with team discipline and standards.

In the meantime, the senior men in a youthful one-day squad should have been leading by example. Warner is one of them. He has played 102 matches for his country, comfortably the most of the six Australians who were reportedly at the Walkabout pub when the Root incident occurred - Clint McKay, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Phillip Hughes were the others.

Even aside from the punch, did the thought ever enter Warner's mind that Marsh, five years his junior, might look up to him as a role model? That drinking into the early hours with Marsh might be a bad idea? Marsh is only 21 but has already been in trouble several times in his short career, including over a Perth Scorchers group drinking session at last year's Champions League. Marsh is fortunate to be on this tour in the first place; Warner is lucky to still be on it.

"I'm playing all three forms so I should be considering myself as a leader," Warner said last December. "They've had a word to me about trying to be the senior person now and trying to set standards of our Australian way. Whether we're doing a fielding drill or we're batting out the back, just keep in mind that we're training our backsides off and make sure everyone's doing the right thing."

Thanks to his own brain-snap, training his backside off is all Warner can do for the next four weeks. The punishment handed down by Gordon Lewis, the retired County Court judge who independently handles Cricket Australia's Code of Behaviour hearings, might seem neither here nor there. But being banned from playing any cricket for a month is not exactly lenient.

It will cost Warner his Ashes spot, for he cannot prove himself in the warm-ups before the first Test. Nor will it be a holiday for Warner, more like probation. He will be monitored more closely than ever and with good behaviour, might have some hope of playing later in the Ashes. He's fortunate not to have been sentenced to transportation back to the colonies.

An enforced period back in Australia might have been good for Warner in the long term, for he has been more or less permanently on the road for 18 months. If home life can keep a man grounded, a cashed-up travelling existence can have just the opposite effect, suggesting freedom from responsibilities. 

It is hard to believe that only three weeks ago, after Warner's Twitter rant at two Australian journalists, Clarke defended his leadership potential and said that "if he continues to grow as he has done over the past four or five years there's no reason, in my opinion, why he hasn't got the potential to captain Australia one day".

If he continues to be as immature as he has been over the past few months, he'll be lucky to keep playing for Australia, much less lead them. They might as well appoint Mark Wary head of PR.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on June 18, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    no loss for the ashes anyway warner is a slam bam thank you mam batsman no good with a swinging ball as in england

  • IndianInnerEdge on June 17, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    What i would be interested in knowing is - What exactly was the Hashmi Amla angle in all of this? People are slagging off Warner at the 1st available oppurtunity-OK i concede that if u r an international player, u cannot run around turning other players into hamburger meat...but give the guy a break, for all u know he might be standing up for someone being diffrenciated on the basis of being/looking different (am guesing this is where the wig/beard thing fits in), if this is true-he should be commended for this. nuff said...the guy has been suspended from active cricket until the first test (whilst the management has said it will provide him with enough centre wicket practice - which is an big staring in ur face-Irony in itself!!)...am sure he will come out better for this. Hopefully he will not go the symmo - Ryder route and will continue to entertain us ...Go Warner!:)

  • milepost on June 16, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Send him home. What's the point of persisting with David Warner? David, please answer this question and have the answer on my desk by Tuesday.....

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on June 16, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    Warner's repeated misdeameanours ought to be a matter of serious concern for Australian cricket. He's nearly 27 now and ought to have matured into one of the senior pros. Instead, he still remains merely a promising batsman in a lineup that severely lacks experience.

  • AhmedEsat on June 15, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    Watson is right.....If players faced severe penalties for not doing homework, how could it be right to cover up a more serious offence from Warner? Sadly, it boils down to lack of effective and consistent management. I find it increasingly difficult to feel passionate about our performances.

  • vj_gooner on June 15, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    If and only If had Cricket Australia decided to give this much leeway to Andrew "Roy" Symonds.

    What might have been....

  • Mad_Hamish on June 15, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    It's an interesting contrast that the team management seemed to think that hitting somebody is a minor matter that should be kept quiet but not doing an assignment needed to be heavily publicized and deserved bans for a test. Yet CA rated this incident as worth a month long suspension. Raises questions about the team management surely?

  • Clyde on June 15, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    Exactly, Coverdale. And I had no idea Warner was not in his early twenties. It is remarkable he has gone for so long, given what we see now.

  • ToneMalone on June 14, 2013, 23:34 GMT

    A bit tough on George Bailey here. It seems like he was just trying to manage the situation, while CA's administration was taking too long to shore up its response. Had Bailey taken a "hard stance", and the CA official response then been softer (not like that hasn't happened before), then Bailey -- a fine character and underrated cricketer -- might have been hung out to dry.

    For Warner, this must surely be his "Bourbon & Beefstake" moment. After that incident, Ricky Ponting admitted he had a drinking problem and picked up his act. At the very least, Warner has an attitude and anger management problem. It's time for him to take a look in the mirror and decide whether he wants to put an end to his own self-indulgent behaviour. If not, he is not fit to represent Australia in any format of the game.

  • Nickoshot on June 14, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    Maybe a few weeks at home would help his state of mind, I am not blaming the IPL but if you add a full season to playing all three formats of international cricket its too much. You don't need to look at his nightclub antics look at his batting.

  • on June 18, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    no loss for the ashes anyway warner is a slam bam thank you mam batsman no good with a swinging ball as in england

  • IndianInnerEdge on June 17, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    What i would be interested in knowing is - What exactly was the Hashmi Amla angle in all of this? People are slagging off Warner at the 1st available oppurtunity-OK i concede that if u r an international player, u cannot run around turning other players into hamburger meat...but give the guy a break, for all u know he might be standing up for someone being diffrenciated on the basis of being/looking different (am guesing this is where the wig/beard thing fits in), if this is true-he should be commended for this. nuff said...the guy has been suspended from active cricket until the first test (whilst the management has said it will provide him with enough centre wicket practice - which is an big staring in ur face-Irony in itself!!)...am sure he will come out better for this. Hopefully he will not go the symmo - Ryder route and will continue to entertain us ...Go Warner!:)

  • milepost on June 16, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Send him home. What's the point of persisting with David Warner? David, please answer this question and have the answer on my desk by Tuesday.....

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on June 16, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    Warner's repeated misdeameanours ought to be a matter of serious concern for Australian cricket. He's nearly 27 now and ought to have matured into one of the senior pros. Instead, he still remains merely a promising batsman in a lineup that severely lacks experience.

  • AhmedEsat on June 15, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    Watson is right.....If players faced severe penalties for not doing homework, how could it be right to cover up a more serious offence from Warner? Sadly, it boils down to lack of effective and consistent management. I find it increasingly difficult to feel passionate about our performances.

  • vj_gooner on June 15, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    If and only If had Cricket Australia decided to give this much leeway to Andrew "Roy" Symonds.

    What might have been....

  • Mad_Hamish on June 15, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    It's an interesting contrast that the team management seemed to think that hitting somebody is a minor matter that should be kept quiet but not doing an assignment needed to be heavily publicized and deserved bans for a test. Yet CA rated this incident as worth a month long suspension. Raises questions about the team management surely?

  • Clyde on June 15, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    Exactly, Coverdale. And I had no idea Warner was not in his early twenties. It is remarkable he has gone for so long, given what we see now.

  • ToneMalone on June 14, 2013, 23:34 GMT

    A bit tough on George Bailey here. It seems like he was just trying to manage the situation, while CA's administration was taking too long to shore up its response. Had Bailey taken a "hard stance", and the CA official response then been softer (not like that hasn't happened before), then Bailey -- a fine character and underrated cricketer -- might have been hung out to dry.

    For Warner, this must surely be his "Bourbon & Beefstake" moment. After that incident, Ricky Ponting admitted he had a drinking problem and picked up his act. At the very least, Warner has an attitude and anger management problem. It's time for him to take a look in the mirror and decide whether he wants to put an end to his own self-indulgent behaviour. If not, he is not fit to represent Australia in any format of the game.

  • Nickoshot on June 14, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    Maybe a few weeks at home would help his state of mind, I am not blaming the IPL but if you add a full season to playing all three formats of international cricket its too much. You don't need to look at his nightclub antics look at his batting.

  • PrasPunter on June 14, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    @Mechanixintokyo , cant agree more. What if we had done this at our work-place ? Won' t we be shown the door once for all ? He must be sent back and made to earn the BaggyGreen, if at all he wants to. Else he shall settle down in india and earn those big-bucks from what is called as the IPL.

  • wix99 on June 14, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Unfortunately Cricket Australia set the bar way too low after dropping Shane Watson for one Test for "not doing his homework" during the tour of India. Watson's behaviour following the suspension showed he is unfit to be a leader, yet he was appointed captain for the subsequent Test.

    Warner's punishment is more appropriate and sends a clear message to the other players. Anything less than 100% professionalism and commitment to the team will not be tolerated.

  • crackers134 on June 14, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Warner is surely now as far away from a leadership position in the Australian team as Mark Wary is. Great writing Brydon!

  • Mechanixintokyo on June 14, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    As much as I hate to say it, it's time to boot this guy. If any of us ordinary souls do what he has done we lose our job, no second chances we are fired. Turf him for at least for this Ashes series, send him home , he's just having a paid holiday now anyway, set strict guidelines and criteria for him to meet, between now and the next ashes series. Have Steve Waugh supervise this guy and get his head straight. If he gets himself sorted well and good

  • TestsbeforeTwenty20 on June 14, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    @Ajay02 - They are professional outfit, i agree, but also grown-ups, and should be treated as such. Cannot say they should not be there, but rather should realize that their conduct in the public eye should always be professional, specially during a tournament.

    Blaming the coach (Arthur) for a player that clearly has issues in dealing with his emotions (twitter saga) and temper (latest bar incident) is also very unfair. If Warner is serious about playing professional cricket he has some serious introspection to do. No coach or investigations by CA is going to rescue his career if he does not come to the party himself.

  • Ajay02 on June 14, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    These two teams are professional outfits and what were they doing in the pub/noightclub for so late considering mini world cup is going on. What examples are they they setting for new generation. In my views Warner has done wrong but somebody as young as Root should not be there. why ECB and Cook etc dont take responsibility for this? A detailed investigation should be carried out. Must learn a lesson from Asian teams in this respect. Just think Sri Lanka won against all odds simply because no beer was flowing in their bodies.When pressure is on only fittest can survive.

  • on June 14, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    Its time to bring back Ricky Ponting- this time as an administrator. George Bailey is not a fantastic cricketer himself to command the respect from players that someone like Ricky would. And please get Mickey out of Australian Cricket! You need special coaches like Gary Kirsten who were successful as cricketers and young enough to understand the modern day players. I am sure Ricky, Warne (in some capacity) and Kirsten will form the best coaching / Team Management staff.

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  • on June 14, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    Its time to bring back Ricky Ponting- this time as an administrator. George Bailey is not a fantastic cricketer himself to command the respect from players that someone like Ricky would. And please get Mickey out of Australian Cricket! You need special coaches like Gary Kirsten who were successful as cricketers and young enough to understand the modern day players. I am sure Ricky, Warne (in some capacity) and Kirsten will form the best coaching / Team Management staff.

  • Ajay02 on June 14, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    These two teams are professional outfits and what were they doing in the pub/noightclub for so late considering mini world cup is going on. What examples are they they setting for new generation. In my views Warner has done wrong but somebody as young as Root should not be there. why ECB and Cook etc dont take responsibility for this? A detailed investigation should be carried out. Must learn a lesson from Asian teams in this respect. Just think Sri Lanka won against all odds simply because no beer was flowing in their bodies.When pressure is on only fittest can survive.

  • TestsbeforeTwenty20 on June 14, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    @Ajay02 - They are professional outfit, i agree, but also grown-ups, and should be treated as such. Cannot say they should not be there, but rather should realize that their conduct in the public eye should always be professional, specially during a tournament.

    Blaming the coach (Arthur) for a player that clearly has issues in dealing with his emotions (twitter saga) and temper (latest bar incident) is also very unfair. If Warner is serious about playing professional cricket he has some serious introspection to do. No coach or investigations by CA is going to rescue his career if he does not come to the party himself.

  • Mechanixintokyo on June 14, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    As much as I hate to say it, it's time to boot this guy. If any of us ordinary souls do what he has done we lose our job, no second chances we are fired. Turf him for at least for this Ashes series, send him home , he's just having a paid holiday now anyway, set strict guidelines and criteria for him to meet, between now and the next ashes series. Have Steve Waugh supervise this guy and get his head straight. If he gets himself sorted well and good

  • crackers134 on June 14, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Warner is surely now as far away from a leadership position in the Australian team as Mark Wary is. Great writing Brydon!

  • wix99 on June 14, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Unfortunately Cricket Australia set the bar way too low after dropping Shane Watson for one Test for "not doing his homework" during the tour of India. Watson's behaviour following the suspension showed he is unfit to be a leader, yet he was appointed captain for the subsequent Test.

    Warner's punishment is more appropriate and sends a clear message to the other players. Anything less than 100% professionalism and commitment to the team will not be tolerated.

  • PrasPunter on June 14, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    @Mechanixintokyo , cant agree more. What if we had done this at our work-place ? Won' t we be shown the door once for all ? He must be sent back and made to earn the BaggyGreen, if at all he wants to. Else he shall settle down in india and earn those big-bucks from what is called as the IPL.

  • Nickoshot on June 14, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    Maybe a few weeks at home would help his state of mind, I am not blaming the IPL but if you add a full season to playing all three formats of international cricket its too much. You don't need to look at his nightclub antics look at his batting.

  • ToneMalone on June 14, 2013, 23:34 GMT

    A bit tough on George Bailey here. It seems like he was just trying to manage the situation, while CA's administration was taking too long to shore up its response. Had Bailey taken a "hard stance", and the CA official response then been softer (not like that hasn't happened before), then Bailey -- a fine character and underrated cricketer -- might have been hung out to dry.

    For Warner, this must surely be his "Bourbon & Beefstake" moment. After that incident, Ricky Ponting admitted he had a drinking problem and picked up his act. At the very least, Warner has an attitude and anger management problem. It's time for him to take a look in the mirror and decide whether he wants to put an end to his own self-indulgent behaviour. If not, he is not fit to represent Australia in any format of the game.

  • Clyde on June 15, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    Exactly, Coverdale. And I had no idea Warner was not in his early twenties. It is remarkable he has gone for so long, given what we see now.