The Investec Ashes 2013 June 20, 2013

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • j on June 22, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    Warner was supposed to be the next captain. Now both he and Watson are not in the picture over captaincy, when Clarke's back keeps him out of the side, who really is ready to step into Clarke's shoes? Aussies in absolute shambles.

  • Roo on June 22, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding :- "thats the story that is is being banded about by the Aussie media"...

    Actually no. Its what I read from the Telegraph in London & Sports24 in S.A. - haven't read anything like that in the Oz media - ABC... Its what came out the next morning - usually the first report is closer to the truth than what gets dragged out days later...

    @gwd80... It you took the time to read my comm, I stated twice that I didn't defend Warner at all & felt disgust at the whole episode - having said that, the players have taken the episode much better than many of the press & fans have... Perhaps then xenophobia that is directed at Oz regularly is being highlighted by these recent events?...

  • Sam on June 21, 2013, 20:58 GMT

    I can understand Mickey Arthur wanting Warner to be smart. I don't see why it has anything to do with ECB and the media having a field day. If you do something that is not smart, do not try to use the response to take a dig at opposition's board or the media. If Warner indulged in an 'unprovoked physical attack', why is it wrong to describe it in that manner? If I were Cricket Australia's CEO, I would ask Mickey Arthur to write down three things he would do to improve the conduct of his players and three things he would do to improve his own ability to accept responsibility without trying to blame it on others.

  • Sharky on June 21, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Me as a Zaffer, can't understand how Australia can hold out with Mickey Arthur as their Head coach. Don't get me wrong, I've got lots of respect for Mickeys' brain and tactics and he is a brilliant annalist, I will forever be thankful for the way he took the Proteas out of the mud and brought them to a Test Series win Down Under, but he should be no-more than an assistant-coach for Australia. Mickey, as an assistant, should only talk to the Head coach and the head coach must correspond with the players. Ex Australian Union Rugby coach & brilliant rugby annalist, Eddie Jones, was Jake White's assistant coach when the Springboks won the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Mickey Arthur should only go as high up the ranks in Australia as Eddie did with the Springboks. I was really disappointed when Graeme Smith worked out the tough Ray Jennings for the easy Mickey. Maybe it's just me, but Mickey sounds too much like your buddy or your mate, not your respectful Head Coach. First change Mickey to Mick!

  • Ray on June 21, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    I thought we (Brits) were meant to be the whingers?

  • Mashuq on June 21, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    There's no point in over-hyping the Warner incident anymore than there is in attempting to ignore it. Agree entirely @ CoverDrive888 on (June 21, 2013, 8:25 GMT) about the in-crowd. How long will they persist with guys like Warner, Hughes and Cowan? If they fail, you have to keep trying at least most of them because there's only one extra batter. Then on a flat deck at the Oval they score runs in an inconsequential match and they're retained for Ashes II. Now that's something to get upset about!

  • Charles on June 21, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    I do not have any great love for our press however both the ECB and our press would have handled the Warner incident in exactly the same way if Root had done the punching . You would have seen condemnation from the ECB plus a much more lenghty ban and plenty from our press - remember how they have covered Fredie in the past with the pedalo etc.

  • Gareth on June 21, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (June 21, 2013, 6:38 GMT) as has been pointed out already - that's not what happened so there is no justification. Even if that's what Root had been doing with the wig (which it wasn't), how is Warner hitting him a justifiable response?

    When the player himself has already accepted full responsibility for behaving badly, it seems desperate for the coach to come out with this guff now. James Sutherland didn't seem to think it was the ECB stirring things up when his voice was shaking with rage during his press conference in response to all this!

    I don't

  • ToneMalone on June 21, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    Sure Micky: you need to be street smart with the media, and even official bodies like the ECB. Goes without saying. But the no.1 takeaway from Warner punching Root should still be "don't punch other people". If being "street smart" with the media & ECB is now seen among the squad as the lesson from this incident, then the mistake is bound to be repeated, one way or another.

  • xxxxx on June 21, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    It seems as if England fans are trying to delude themselves that the Ashes are won in the English tabloids and not on the cricket field.

    Aus has a habit of regularly turning up in England with a little known team and unexpectedly winning ever since that match at the Oval in 1882 that spawned the Ashes. This is the reason behind the very comical and increasingly desperate attempts by the English press, fans and the ECB to gain any dodgy but ultimately pointless "advantage".

    As an old campaigner who won in England as SA coach Arthur is offering both wise words to his team and having a good old stir with the opposition. Long may it continue.