Mitchell Johnson and Scott Styris have been fined by the match referee after a heated clash during New Zealand's win in the first ODI in Napier. The two men were cited for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct with Johnson docked 60% of his match fee and Styris hit with a 15% fine.
The incident occurred in the 46th over of New Zealand's chase, when Styris struck Johnson for two boundaries. The players bumped shoulders and then appeared to clash heads. Initially, there was a verbal exchange between the two but at that point Johnson approached Styris and made what the umpires felt was deliberate and inappropriate physical contact with his opponent.
Johnson, who was charged with a Level 2 offence, pleaded guilty at an early stage to avoid a full hearing. Styris also avoided a full hearing and was charged with a Level 1 offence. The umpires felt Styris contributed to the verbal exchange that preceded the physical contact and that his actions contravened clause 2.1.8 which covers actions that are contrary to the spirit of cricket or bring the game into disrepute.
"Sometimes in the heat of competition players cross over the line of what is acceptable behaviour and that has clearly happened in this case," the match referee Ranjan Madugalle said. "I made it clear to them that as role models it's important that they conduct themselves not only within the laws of cricket but also in keeping with the spirit of the game."
Styris had the last laugh after leading New Zealand to a memorable final-over victory, which ended when he hit a six over long-off. He played down the incident and when asked if Johnson had headbutted him, he replied: "He may have done. It was just a bit of friendly banter. He was trying to get into my head to get me out and I was trying to win the battle over him.
"There was nothing more than normal, the Australians play good competitive cricket and I'd like to think that we'll match them in that competitiveness. There wasn't anything untoward out there."
Styris and Johnson were separated by Australia's wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and the captain Ricky Ponting was also keen to keep the focus on the game. He said he had seen the incident but was not sure how it had started.
"I saw it, yeah. I was watching it from where I was fielding," Ponting said. "I'm not sure what led to it. I didn't see any build-up. There was obviously something that happened. I rushed in as quickly as I could and separated them as quick as I could and we just tried to finish off the game well from there."