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George Dobell in Brisbane
November 24, 2013
'Warner's maturity is definitely showing'
England's captain, Alastair Cook, has condemned David Warner's off-field implication that Jonathan Trott was afraid of the pace of Mitchell Johnson as "disrespectful" as Australia faced a barrage of post-match questions about their aggressive approach at the Gabba.
Australia's overwhelming victory was completed in a heated finale which necessitated the intervention of the umpires to calm things down with England's last pair at the crease. The stump mic picked up Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, telling James Anderson that he was about to have his arm broken, while George Bailey chimed in that Anderson was about to break his hand.
Clarke insisted that "mutual respect" between the teams remained off the field and that the sledging was nothing out of the ordinary, just good, tough cricket. "I cop as much as I give," Clarke said. "I have had a lot worse. There is not one person in the England team that we have a personal vendetta against.
"There is always banter on the field, especially when Australia and England are playing one another. They are two teams that always play tough, hard-fought cricket. There's plenty on the field that you don't hear on stump mic that's meant to stay on the field. Through my career I've heard a lot worse said on the field than any of the Australian players or England players said throughout this Test match.
"You don't get to No. 1 in the world like they have done without playing successful cricket over a long period of time. The respect is certainly there, the banter is no different to what I've experienced over my career. We all respect the game, the traditions and the history of the game, and Australia versus England has always been competitive no matter which team's won."
Cook suggested that back-to-back Ashes series made a rise in tensions almost inevitable, and shrugged it off, but his criticism of Warner's off-the-field remarks, although brief, was pointed and emphasised England's annoyance that Australia's verbal assaults are extending to public slights.
Warner, England's most pugnacious verbal adversary, claimed England's batsmen had "scared eyes", suggested Trott was "backing away" from the bowling of Mitchell Johnson and that his second innings dismissal was "was pretty poor and pretty weak".
That left England waiting to see if the ICC would impose its own regulations. Under the ICC's Code of Conduct (sections 2.1.7 and 2.2.3) players are not allowed to make any "public criticism of, or inappropriate comment in relation to an incident occurring in an international match or any player, player support personnel, match official or team participating in any international match, irrespective of when such criticism or inappropriate comment is made."
While Warner's views might be seen as something to shrug off in most contexts, the rules of the Code of Conduct are uncompromising. They make it clear that "without limitation" players are not allowed to "publicly criticise" or "denigrate" a "player or team against which they have played in relation to incidents which occurred in an international match."
Cook was far more sanguine about the on-field exchanges. "On the pitch it's pretty much a war," he said. "There are always going to be a few words. That's the way people want to watch cricket being played: tough, hard cricket. On the pitch is fine."
The decision whether to charge Warner is in the hands of match referee Jeff Crowe. There is a widespread belief in the England camp about what they believe is a campaign of mental disintegration waged largely through the media and they clearly feel the boundaries of acceptable conduct have been stretched.
The newspaper campaign also continues unabated as Australia sense that their worst days might be behind them. After a few days of derogatory stories aimed at England's players which included calling Stuart Broad a cheat and Kevin Pietersen arrogant and unpopular, one Australian Sunday tabloid even had the audacity to suggest that their teams' wives and girlfriends were "hotter" than their counterparts.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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