Arthur rues Warner naivety in bar incident
Australia's coach, Mickey Arthur, has warned his side to be "street smart" to prevent the English media and the ECB having a field day during the Investec Ashes series after the incident in which David Warner was pilloried for a fracas with the England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar.
Warner's punch was described as a "despicable thing" by the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it was viewed in less condemnatory terms by the Australian touring party - Arthur among them.
While acknowledging the decision of a group of players to be out late drinking in the aftermath of their Champions Trophy defeat by England was a case of "obviously poor judgement", Arthur suggested the episode also served as a reminder that the tourists needed to be wary of their hosts stealing every possible advantage.
News that Warner would be answerable to a CA code of conduct hearing for his punch aimed at the England batsman Joe Root was pre-empted by an ECB statement which referred to an "unprovoked physical attack" on one of their players.
When asked about the ECB statement, Arthur said it was a case of the Australians being outsmarted in enemy territory.
"Yeah look, that's part and parcel of touring England," Arthur told ABC Radio. "You've got to be very street smart, you've got to be on your game and if you don't the media and the ECB will have a field day with you. We've got to be smarter, make sure we make the right decisions. Unfortunately some guys are learning the hard way, but you hope that they'll get better for it.
"It was obviously poor judgement and you hope they don't go down that line again. We keep chipping away every day about what the responsibility of playing for Australia is, what the standards are of this team. We want the Australian badge to be a brand in world cricket, and some of the players have learned the hard way. But I'm 100% certain we're going in the right direction."
Sutherland's excoriation of Warner following a code of conduct hearing that suspended him from playing until the first Ashes Test at Nottingham left few in doubt about his expectations of the Australian team overseas, but there has been a reluctance to follow that hard line among the tour party.
Arthur and the national selector John Inverarity have spoken warmly of Warner's chances of being chosen for Trent Bridge, while the captain Michael Clarke has lauded his training ethic.
Whether or not Shane Watson's rumoured objection to the delay in punishing Warner is to be believed, the tour management now seem more intent on nurturing the young players under their care than meting out the sort of punitive justice seen in India.
"What we've got to realise is the team's changed considerably, it's a team of young, good cricketers at the moment," Arthur said. "We've got to give them guidance, we've got to give them direction and make sure they get better and better.
"We are going to get a bit of ill-judgement and some players are going to learn the hard way, but those are our best players, we've got to back them in, we've got to make them better and turn them from good to great."
Clarke, speaking at CA's promotion for the launch of ticket sales for the 2013-14 Ashes series in Australia that will follow the matches in England, sidestepped a question about how unified the team was entering the Test match portion of the summer.
"The group obviously comes together on Monday," he said. "At this stage we've got the Aussie A guys starting a three-dayer in Bristol on Friday, so a few of the guys are down there, and we have seven of the Test squad here in London.
"I've played a lot with the group that are here for the Ashes and I think the group's fantastic. We've got some great experience in this group, a good mixture of youth and experience, and I know the boys are looking forward to getting together on Monday."
More convincing was Clarke's assurance that his back was progressing after the flare-up that kept him out of the Champions Trophy. Following a morning training session in Hampstead, Clarke showed his improving flexibility by walking back part of the way from Tower Bridge to the team hotel in Kensington - the better to avoid London traffic at peak hour.
He said that Alex Kountouris, the Australian physio, was very positive that he was improving daily. "My back's feeling better at the moment, there's still obviously a few days before that first practice game down in Taunton, but if all goes to plan I'll be playing in that game," he said.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here