David Warner has defended his use of the words "speak English" during an on-field squabble with Rohit Sharma during Sunday's ODI at the MCG, but has been fined 50% of his match fee over the incident. Warner admitted during a radio interview on Monday morning that he was in the wrong by engaging with Rohit.
The incident occurred at the end of the 23rd over of India's innings, when India took an overthrow and the Australians showed their displeasure, seemingly believing the ball had ricocheted off Rohit's legs. Replays suggested that was not necessarily the case, but during the crossover at the end of the over the umpire had to step in to hose down a verbal stoush between Warner and Rohit.
"On the cricket etiquette side of things when you throw a ball to the keeper and it hits a player you don't run," Warner said on Sky Sports Radio on Monday. "A few of the boys said something to him and when I went over to say something he sort of said something in their language and I said 'speak English', because if you're going to say something for me to understand theoretically, I cannot speak Hindi.
"So I did the polite thing and asked him to speak English, therefore he did, and I can't repeat what he said. I thought I was okay by asking him to speak English and I'm going to say it a couple of times if he keeps saying it in Hindi. I got slapped on the wrist yesterday by the ICC, I shouldn't have engaged him and should have went to the other side to my fielding position, but I didn't.
"The guys behind the wicket said it hit him. I walked in because I presumed it hit him as well. I was in the wrong. What he was saying to me I asked him to speak English. I got in trouble for engaging the player, which technically you're not allowed to do that now … You're not supposed to walk at the player. It was between overs and I should have walked around to my fielding position."
Australia's coach Darren Lehmann said his side would always "teeter pretty close to" the line of acceptability, but he admitted the Warner-Rohit incident was not a good look for the game. Lehmann said Australia supported Warner's aggressive style but would work with him to ensure his behaviour was within acceptable standards.
"It's not a great look," Lehmann said. "The ICC have done something about it. At the end of the day we have to work better at those situations and get better as a group ... Davey said he's been fined 50%, so we'll deal with that and move on. It's not an ideal scenario, but we've got to make sure we're playing the cricket we want to play without crossing the line.
"David's an aggressive character and we support that. It's just making sure he does the right things on the ground, and he knows that more than most. We'll work with him with that. We've just got to be mindful of the game of cricket, it's an important entertainment spectacle for people around the world. We've got to make sure we play hard but fair, and don't cross the line."
The incident led to a wide range of criticism, including an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald that slammed Warner's actions and cricket's lack of leadership in dealing with sledging.
"Warner has confirmed he used the words, but says he did so politely," the newspaper said. "His intentions certainly did not look polite. Warner deserves to be roundly condemned. Remarks such as these have no place on the cricket field or anywhere else.
"[F]ines are no deterrent to poor behaviour if that behaviour helps a side dominate its opponent. That is not good enough. Effective deterrence is needed here. Whatever measures are adopted in response to unacceptable sledging should be designed to stamp the practice out."
The stoush marred Australia's four-wicket win at the MCG, where there were also serious concerns about Australia's shoddy over-rate during India's innings. Stand-in captain George Bailey was suspended for the next match against England in Hobart on Friday after Australia's bowling effort went 26 minutes over time.