Batting aggression does not require actual aggression

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That’s a straightforward message for Ricky Ponting and all who would make a similar defence of David Warner’s behaviour. Read it, accept that it is a fact and then go away and think through the issues again, Ricky.

Ponting’s latest column for Cricinfo features the following assumption, stated as fact.

“The Australian public love the way he bats, which goes hand in hand with the sort of confrontational approach he sometimes takes in the field.”

Is that so? Aggressive batting and argumentative fielding go hand in hand, do they? Why must the way a person behaves while fielding have a direct link to the way they bat several hours later (or earlier)?

Batsmen don’t come much more aggressive than Virender Sehwag, but we can’t really recall him charging from slip to square up to an opposition batsman.

Or how about Chris Gayle? Does he lose his rag with the opposition every chance he gets in a bid psych himself up for batting? No, of course not. He can’t be bothered. Truth is, even his ‘aggressive’ batting is characterised by a placid, nonchalant demeanour.

But it’s different for Warner. He plays with a passion unimaginable to Sehwag, Gayle, De Villiers, Jayasuriya or whoever. He’s special, and to ensure he remains special, Warner is obliged to act like an arsehole. His confrontational approach goes hand in hand with his batting, after all.

This is why Warner has to be involved in a road rage incident every time he passes a cyclist while driving; this is why he has to threaten supermarket staff when can’t find his favourite brand of coffee; and this is why he has to kick a plastic cup full of loose change halfway down the street when a tramp has the temerity to laugh at him for tripping on a kerb.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


    1. That was a good one too. Or alternatively, that was a good one, as opposed to this one which was intentionally awful.

  1. Let’s just imagine for a moment that your hypothesis is wrong, KC.

    Let’s imagine that, if David Warner were to take a chill pill, that he’d bat like Chris Tavaré.

    Further, let’s imagine that people such as Virender Sehwag and Chris Gayle are actually batting well within themselves, because they are not allowing their inner monsters to run wild.

    Now let’s imagine that Virender Sehwag and Chris Gayle were each to take an unchill pill before they play. Lots of ludicrous,obnoxious behaviour while fielding, naturally…

    …but think how those guys would then bat. It would simply be amazing.

    We are being deprived of the massive hitting we, the cricket-loving public, deserve, because those selfish, chilled players are simply refusing to do the right thing in the confrontation department.

    The Americans don’t have this problem in baseball, they really don’t.

    1. Do you watch baseball? Hits are rarer than wickets in cricket. Especially if you’re the Seattle Mariners.

      Which is why hits are so important. And why 6s in T20 are boring.

    2. That’s because baseball does not have the absolute causal link between aggression and hitting.

      I rest my case, daneel.


    3. Try and tell a baseball historian that Ty Cobb or Ted Williams would have been the players they were even if they hadn’t been such complete assholes (Cobb once charged into the bleachers to beat up a man who had no hands).

      When it comes to batting, in either sport, I’m of the opinion that whatever best helps you focus on your task, that’s what you’ve got to do. For some people, it’s calmness. For some people, it’s desire to beat the other guy.

      Obviously, that doesn’t excuse acting like Warner in the field. But I definitely think that for some people, the same drive that makes them behave like children at times is what also makes them bat like geniuses.

  2. I think people have forgotten the seething mass of neuroses inside Chris Tavare, his sense of the sheer hopelessness of life. If he had played baseball, he would have sawn his bat in half after every inning.

  3. The best part about that article is that it was written by that paragon of virtue Ricky Ponting, a man who would never lose it at the opposition, his teammates or the umpires when things didn’t go his way.

    1. Actually, the Ponting article is quite reasonable when you get past the headline.

      He is basically saying that he learnt from experience that aggressive gestures on the field look ghastly on camera, even if they are accompanied by a bit of tongue-in-cheek tongue-lashing or mock pantomime villainy.

      It did take Ponting the whole of a long career to learn that lesson of course, only fully appreciated and disseminated by him post career; a relatively easy lesson to deploy from the commentary box or with the pen.

      Further, David Warner has previous allowing his aggression to run to seriously ugly incidents off the field. I have a little more sympathy with the “white line fever” hot-head than I do with an oik, such as Warner, who seems unable to control his behaviour on or off the field. Ponting chooses to ignore that aspect in his piece.

    2. The thing is that Ponting very publicly learnt from his bar-room related clusterfuffle. Off-field behaviour has curtailed the career of many a would be star (Andrew Symonds, Jesse Ryder) because no matter how good you are, at some point you will reach the point at which you cost the team more than your talent will permit.

      Warner has so far proven that he lacks the ability to learn and he’s likely closer to Baggy Green exile than he may like to admit.

    3. Did Ponting learn though? There was one in Kolkata followed by one in Sydney. Because time compresses in the past, it may seem like he learned but it took him quite some time.

      Also, Warner’s recent transgression was not off field, so he may have learned something there. He knows he can be a prick on field because that behavior almost always goes unpunished. In fact, as we have learned, it is central to Warner’s batting prowess.

    4. Ponting did learn, especially after Sidney when it was made abundantly clear that his career was on the line.

      Warner is likely to always be a thorn in his management’s side. If any player is likely to find himself fired and gearing up to publish a ghost-written, score-settling, bridges-burning autobiography then it’s probably him. Right now, he’s a match winner with a coach who’s willing to give him leeway. What happens when he’s unable to buy a run, the guy at the top is a strict disciplinarian and he’s just been broadcast swearing at an angelic-looking tail-ender on a stump mike?

  4. In other news, I am horrified to read news of England’s ODI captain’s off field activities:

    The ignominy. The shame. I have not slept a wink since I picked up on that story, a few minutes ago.

    Why oh why did we not listen to the wise words of our great leader, Giles Clarke, when he implored us to choose our England captains from “the right families”?

    A young, single man in his twenties fraternising with a young, consenting female? This is not what we expect of our finest, it really isn’t.

    I shall certainly be writing to Middlesex CCC threatening to cancel my life membership of the county unless something is done about this. Where might it all end?

    Just say it ain’t so, Mo.

    1. I just hope it doesn’t upset his batting for tomorrow’s match…

      …although I am reliably informed that Eoin Morgan usually scores in Hobart.

  5. Did anyone notice this: “David, Mitchell Johnson and the rest of the team have been able to play their cricket right on the edge, without spilling over TOO REGULARLY.” So they have been crossing “the line” that they have hitherto been dancing on (but never over) gracefully. Or perhaps there is a quota of arsehole behaviour. Something like fielding restrictions or the bowlers limited to 10 overs per innings.

    1. The third “downing” made me laugh out load. Top slapstick.

      Incidentally, “slapstick” sounds like a good name for de Villiers’ bat.

  6. Unless Australia start reeling Warner’s behaviour in (instead of condoning and rewarding it), I imagine that the obvious tactic for opposing teams will just be to wind him up constantly whenever he is on the pitch until he has a very explosive temper tantrum and gets banned for a few matches.

    1. It should be relatively easy to whisper something gently in his ear beyond the hearing of the stump mic. A quick search of his wife’s wikipedia page should provide sufficient ammunition to get him over the line.


    this cat fight between Cullinan & Flintoff is amazing. So many highlights, so many questions.

    – Flintoff serously wants us to believe that he had a limited vocabulary when it came to swear words as a 20 year old? Did he grow up in a coven?
    “He was horrible. I was only young… the words he called me, I didn’t even know what they meant. He just went at me and I don’t think there’s any place for that in any sport or any society.”

    – Cullinan sledges Freddie instead of defending himself
    “I think he’s typical of a has-been at the moment. He’s trying to stay in the limelight, travelling around the world and I think someone should just sit him down and just say to him he’s being quite a cricket comic quite frankly.”

  8. We are swamped with ex-players commenting through the media/social media. If hypocracy were a bar, there wouldn’t be much left for them to say, and insight, even less.

    The Aussies currently have Warner as their horrible bairn. We have just “relieved ourselves” of Pietersen. I was at Adelaide in Dec 2010 and Colombo in April 2012. He had some stellar performances with the bat.

    But he was a shit.

    He wound up every other cricketing nation. He was a massively disruptive influence in our dressing room and he was a Nordic-standard sledger.

    Warner really brings special talent to being obnoxious. Is he more so then KP? Tough call…

    Hypocracy, we’re all at it.

  9. Warner was once described by a very experienced journo as the most unreflective sportsman he’d ever come across. In other words, he’s as thick as two planks when it comes to social sensibilities, and rhino-skinned to go with it. He’s also an attention seeker – did you know that? Hopefully a cricket ball will strike him on the noggin and he’ll wake up evangelised, the sensitive new age nerd in the mould of MJ. In the unlikely event of this happening, maybe he’ll cross the line so far that even
    Boofhead will be obliged to act for the good of team. Meanwhile, in our dreams ….

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