Has David Warner really ‘gone rogue’ and if so, why? Let’s examine the evidence

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4 minute read

Absolutely the best recent headline about Australia’s ball tampering is the one on Fox Sports suggesting that David Warner has ‘gone rogue’.

The evidence for David Warner’s rogue-going is that (a) he was sitting on his own at one point and (b) he drank Champagne with friends who weren’t cricketers.

Based on this, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we have also gone rogue, because (a) sounds rather lovely while (b) is definitely something we’ve done at weddings and female birthdays.

What is however stated less explicitly is (c) a general vibe that Warner is distancing himself from the team and is also kind of furious. Unnamed players have warned that there could be an ‘incident’ (which, admittedly, could just mean that one or two of them want to lamp him) and there’s a sense that throughout the tour he’s been gradually drifting further and further into Davidwarnerland where David Warner makes the laws and David Warner enforces the laws and everyone else is somehow in the wrong.

If you’re reading articles elsewhere today, there’s a good chance you’ll come across a sentence along the lines of “there’s a growing feeling that Warner was the ringleader” and this probably feels fairly credible to you.

Let’s bulletpoint the circumstantial evidence.

The third of those is probably the only one that’s truly of relevance because we all know there are plenty of arseholes who don’t tamper with cricket balls.

Several UK newspapers have run a story that Warner told England players how he used the strapping on his hand to knacker up the surface of the ball a bit during the Ashes.

Here is a picture of Warner’s hand during the Port Elizabeth Test (thanks to Darryl for pointing this out to us).

Warner’s hand (via Twitter)

This image raises three important questions in escalating order of importance:

  • Does David Warner really need that much strapping?
  • David Warner puts his wife’s name on his bandages?
  • What the hell does it mean that David Warner puts his wife’s name on his bandages? That means something, right? There’s no way that doesn’t say something about their relationship. (His kids’ names are also on there, but very much as afterthoughts.)

It’s important to point out that Warner is right-handed, so he shouldn’t have required assistance writing the names. (Several of you will no doubt feel that he probably did require assistance writing the names anyway.)

There has also been a suggestion that Cameron Bancroft only became Ball Management Guy after a dressing room attendant spotted Warner putting sandpaper in his strapping during the second Test at Port Elizabeth. This claim has the general air of being not enormously true based on the vagueness of the source, but we mention it anyway because you never know. We certainly wouldn’t bet big money against it and not just because we already have a lot of outgoings and to do so would therefore be somewhat irresponsible as well as juvenile.

The most compelling case for David Warner as ringleader has been put forward by journalist Geoff Lemon. He thinks Warner’s smarter than he’s generally given credit for (which, in all honesty, isn’t actually all that hard given the public perception of him) but he says he’s also prone to wild mood swings and high aggression. Even never having met him, those qualities just seem instantly and 100 per cent believable.

Lemon doesn’t think Steve Smith can control Warner and instead just tries to accommodate him. He thinks the South Africa experience has got to Warner and that he’s increasingly been driven by what he perceives to be righteous rage. Under a weak captain and an indulgent and protective coach who lacks perspective and self-awareness, you can see how that kind of an attitude might lead Warner towards ever-darker parts of the grey area and incrementally on from there.

An alternative view, which we’ll put forward for balance, is that David Warner is a very convenient and beautifully appropriate fall guy.

We were in a police line-up once. It was when we were at university. We can’t remember exactly how it came about, but we think that someone from the police came onto the campus and said that they needed young men with short dark hair to make up the numbers. So we went down to the station along with a bunch of other short-dark-haired middle-class students and stood next to a lad from the estate with somewhat longer hair and then the person came in and said it was the lad from the estate and we all got a tenner and went and bought ourselves ten pints.

The point is, take almost any conceivable combination of current Test cricketers, line them up alongside David Warner and then ask people to guess which one’s been a dick. Doesn’t even matter what the crime is – who are people going to pick? People are going to pick David Warner because he’s a dick.

The idea that Australia did something wrong and that Warner was 99 per cent responsible is an easy thing to accept because it just seems so fundamentally plausible.

Warner too will be aware of this. He’s spent most of his career feeling like everyone’s got it in for him and while there’s a dash of paranoia and a soupçon of insecurity in that assessment, it’s also pretty much fully accurate and correct.

The man himself, you feel, will have a strong sense of the way the wind is blowing this week and might therefore have concluded that he might as well ‘go rogue’ before he’s officially banished. Why wait?


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    1. Birthdays of females. Our own birthdays are consistently of the same gender (male) and never involve Champagne.

      1. Your birthdays sound sad.
        (I’m aware they are exactly the same as my birthdays.)

      2. Your birthdays are the same? Are you twins? Was KC born minutes earlier and therefore was first in line to the crown? Is the prince bitter?

  1. I’m impressed with the Aussies making this less a case of ball tampering and more about addressing a terrible team culture. If Australia emerge out of this mess a better behaved team over the next 5 years, all of this would be worth it.

  2. In the possibility of any future infractions, I would like to inform the readers of this blog that KC, Bert, and Ged form the leadership group around here and that all blame (in case any exists) should befall them. None of them’s a dick though. Except that one guy.

      1. In that case, I remain loyal to the leadership group and will shop you to the KC Stasi at the first opportunity.

    1. Ooh, that’s excellent. I’ve never been in charge of anything before. It’s very exciting. I suppose I had better come up with some orders for you all to carry out – that seems to be the way of leaders.

      So, what will it be? Umm… oh, I know. Kill all the unbelievers, kill them dead. Then report back and await further instructions. Down on your knees, pathetic minions, mere pieces of filth in my all knowing eyes.

  3. Goes going rogue include the subtlest-possible changing of typeface for half-arsed cricketing websites?

    I can always, ALWAYS tell.

      1. Apologies, appears to be a rendering issue. Renders my moan redundant.

        1,000 revolutions couldn’t overthrow monarch (4)

  4. The long fingernail on his pinkie finger makes me wonder if on tour, he does the old sailor’s trick of painting his nails, shaving off the hair on his hand, lying on it until it goes numb and then using it to self pleasure. Either that or it is to scratch the cricket ball.

    1. There is another possibility *makes vague references to bump balls and well-known caffeinated soft drinks*

    2. Or to open a cigarette pack or to scoop up the cocaine or he’s a flamenco guitarist. but who am I kidding, it’s to scratch a cricket ball.

  5. Maybe someone wrote the names on for him, in case he ever needed to know how to spell them?

  6. All that leading has given me a migraine, so I’m going to revert back to what I understand. And that is cryptic crosswords, you lucky, lucky people.

    Never expressing remorse at first, conflict precedes vice-master (6)

    Forger? And a tosser! (5)

    For him, apply suspension – repeatedly caught right in the middle (8)

    Hidden nail-file initially introduced by the foreign man in the middle. He told me to do it! (7)

    Grit plan? Blame ridiculous cheating (4,9)

    Cowardly record of guilty band (6,4)

    1. Here’s one for the mix:

      Enjoys baiting disgraced Ozzie team after bastard tour down under (6, 5)

    1. Forger? And a tosser! (5) – Smith

      Sorry, spoiler alerts etc etc; I will keep the rest to myself if and when I get them.

  7. So KC, what you’re saying is, if a person in a team is a dick, and there is an outbreak of dick-ish behaviour in said team, then people are most likely to blame the person well known for being a dick rather than his less dick-ish colleagues.

    Sounds about right.

  8. ICYMI, Afghanistan played Windies in the (irrelevant for qualification purposes) grand final of the World Cup Qualies, and thrashed them by 7 wickets.

    This is the Afghanistan team who were beaten by Scotland and Hong Kong earlier in the tournament.

    I was trying to do one of those things where you argue “And the Windies beat X” so that you can complete a chain that proves Scotland/Hong Kong are the best cricket team in the world, but it turns out that the Windies have had some pretty naff ODI results in recent years, which is why they were banished to the WCQs in the first place.

    1. Sikandar Raza’s comments on Zimbabwe not qualifying after he won the player of the tournament award are worth reading.

      “When I started playing cricket, I thought it was to unite countries, players of different background coming together to play this beautiful sport. Unfortunately, you’ll see that’s not going to happen in next year’s World Cup. It’s certainly quite a tough pill to swallow.”

      10 teams, seven weeks. Yep, still sounds as dumb as ever.

      1. Also in the news today is a Zimbabwean cricket official being suspended for 20 years because he offered Graeme Cremer $30,000 to fix a match, and Cremer did exactly what he was supposed to do and immediately reported it to the ICC. The juxtaposition of that, the ball-tampering thing, and Zimbabwe’s exclusion from the World Cup to make room for more Australia matches is kind of sickening.

    2. I could almost imagine that the ICC arranged this ball-tampering fiasco, just to hide the fact that it’s only the second most scandalous thing in cricket this week, and the other one is their fault.

      Sad thing is, it would seem to have worked.

    3. I suppose this would wreak havoc with international relations and all that, but seeing the Scotland/Hong Kong juxtaposition written down has convinced me that the two should merge to form Scotland Kong. I have no doubt Scotland Kong would be one of the rising forces of world cricket. I’m also sure that the new nation would have a brilliant average climate.

  9. Ball tampering aside, a lot of the article would be substantially similar if one were to replace the words “David Warner” with “Kevin Peterson”.

    1. Nope, streets apart. KP as far as I know has never set himself up as the protector of women and bearded people, and then used that status to justify his arsehole behavior.

  10. Well, that was an anticlimax. Maybe not bother with this press conference if you haven’t made any decisions.

    And Lehmann is a jammy bastard (at least until he resigns tomorrow).

    1. Couldn’t do to lose half their side and the coach, so it’s being swept under the rug as quickly as possible.

    1. Don’t be so cynical Daniel. I’m sure that none of the bowlers knew anything about this thing that’s entirely focussed around bowling.

      1. I agree with Daneel. “Discussion within the leadership group” is not the same as “chat with Dave”

  11. News of this saga has made its way to the US, which has resulted in me explaining to more than one friend who David Warner is and why everyone hates him. Which has been more fun than you’d think.

  12. Warner has short man syndrome he has to fire up the inner chimp to make himself feel bigger and more important. Once unleashed he cant control the inner chimp it goes rogue…… you know he will act up again , cross the “line” and everyone knows what sets him off now so hes toast in the longer form of the games. He probably wont have the brains to wait for everything to die down then slowly make his way back into the test team with a carefully orchestrated media campaign,Warner is expendable and i dont think its in him to be genuinely contrite about whats happened and even if he is no one will believe him anyway.Not sure how he will play it from here ….
    Plan A might be to blame everything on Quentin DeKok and that he was mentally unstable and couldnt control the urge to conspire to ball tampering.
    Plan B Squeal like a little piggy and finger the rest of the team as being co conspirators.
    Plan C Crack the shits and retire from all long forms of cricket and play 20/20 for the rest of his career.
    Plan D Actually show genuine contrition accept any penalty go back to state cricket score a bucket of runs demanding selection for the test team then realise that Cricket Australia and the selectors have blackballed you so you had no chance of a recall anyway.

    1. Can we make suggestions? If so, plan C please. I can never keep track of the various T20 leagues so I need never read Warner’s name again- though I suspect he will always be in the news for his behaviour

    1. Ouch indeed. I don’t know what to think about this. Harsh or fair? Can somebody please tell me what to think?

      1. You can think all of those things, Sam. A bit harsh on Bancroft I would say. Probably fair, erring on harsh, for Smith. But Warner hasn’t had his feet boiled in oil for all eternity, so extremely lenient in my opinion.

    2. “All three players will be permitted to play club cricket and will be encouraged to do so to maintain links with the cricket community.”

      That struck me as the most damning line of all.

      1. Quick KC, you need to use your extensive contacts to get them signed up for Davenham for the summer. Well, two of them anyway – pretty sure you won’t want Warner.

      2. Chance for the club cricketers to learn how the pros do it, or maybe is it the other way round?

        Complete omni-shambles all-around…

    3. “seeking to conceal evidence of his attempts to artificially alter the condition of the ball”

      So how come Lehmann and Handscomb aren’t being charged with anything? Not even given a slap on the wrist?

      If Australia really want to rebuild their team’s reputation and change the culture, Lehmann has to go.

  13. I don’t know about you all, and it is probably too early to say, but I get the feeling that this does represent a cultural shift in Australian cricket. The bowling group (Lyon aside) seems to have wanted to distance themselves from all of this as quickly as possible, and they do seem like a decent bunch of cricketers. I don’t recall too many Ponting / Clarke / Warner / Smith type incidents from them.

    Maybe they’ll rebuild the team around this group, or at least around the way they play their cricket. That would be ace. Australian teams of the last dozen years or so have been extremely difficult to like. In fact, they’ve been extremely difficult to not despise. I don’t want that. I’ve a few Aussie pals, all of whom see cricket the same way I do – accept the gentle mockery when you lose, give it back when you win. But I wanted this recent Aussie team to lose so very badly that this was a difficult line to take.

    Ponting seems to have been the instigator, or at least the face, of this attitude. He was the inventor of the flexible line, and one of the main whingers about everyone else’s failings. There were times when you thought you’d never get tired of punching his face. I suspect this might be the last we see of this attitude for a considerable time.

    I genuinely would like to see Australia win the fourth test. That would be a brilliant riposte to the we-must-cheat-to-win tactics of Warner et al, a proper two fingers to him. And then when they come here for the Ashes, wouldn’t it be great if they played really well, gave England a torrid time with the ball and a lesson in ba…

    No. No it wouldn’t. Sorry, not sure what happened there.

  14. While the actions taken are admirable and perhaps no other nation would have reached this conclusion, there are 2 considerations regarding a cultural shift – 1. For real transformation, Lehmann had to go. 2. Specific to this case, the bowlers had to know about the tampering (in this Test, and perhaps earlier Tests); allowing them to distance themselves so hurriedly and pointedly leaves a lot of open questions.

  15. Is this post in danger of setting an appeals record (something something Dominic Cork)?

    1. It was, until your comment ruined it. The Guinness Book of Records disallows any comment threads that become self-referential, where the thread itself becomes the topic of the thread. They think it is too easy to achieve huge threads this way, and of course they’re also concerned about causal loops that could destroy reality.

      The paragraph above would also be disallowed, because it discusses the paragraph above.

      Oh god, what have we done?

      1. Many people these days seem to be fairly ambivalent about reality, so maybe it’s destruction wouldn’t be that unpopular a suggestion.

        To quote Douglas Adams: “In the beginning the Universe was created.
        This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

      2. Aargh, that should be “its”, not “it’s” – it seems the fabric of reality is already crumbling…

  16. The involvement of Turnbull, the public outrage in Australia and the pressure on CA to make an example in this case probably suggests the sanctions are serving a broader political purpose.

    The sanctions are also perhaps reflective of the fact that the antics of the Australian cricket team for several years has slowly rubbed people up the wrong way.

    Given all of that, I think the three are serving sanctions for matters over and above the incident in question (except for warner who has done more than anyone else to contribute to the aforesaid antics)

    I wonder whether the next incident of ball tampering will force the relevant board to take similar action.

  17. I am delighted to accept my appointment to The Leadership Group of this website and am even more delighted to inform you all that I am not “The Dick”.

    As for the matter of Mr Warner – who is, let’s be honest about it, a dick’s dick – this piece by Lawrence Booth rather sums it all up. Apologies that it is from The Mail (if newspapers had dicks…) but I forgive it because it is by Lawrence Booth…

    …and it is in my gift to forgive because I am The KC Leadership Group Reverend:


    1. Always enjoy the Mail’s below the line comments. There are an awful lot of angry people out there.

  18. Cronje also used messages around his wrists and hands (WWJD?) to try to keep himself on the straight and narrow, or perhaps to deflect suspicion. Could be a warning sign for future generations.

    Finally, will Mrs W. still continue her sponsorship deal for Wee Davie’s bandages? ( “Just wait till I get you home!”) Rev Ged – What, for instance, would Daisy say? (WWDS?)

    1. Interesting. I’d have thought that committing morally-dubious actions to further one’s own ends was entirely consistent with the values of a global financial organisation.

      1. While that is true, not getting caught is also consistent with their values. I’m going to guess that’s where the break is.

  19. A friend posted this on the Twitter, which seems to sum it up

    – Australians caught cheating
    – Media/Twitter: Boo! Hiss! Disgrace! Throw the Book at them!
    – Book is thrown at them
    – Cricketer contrite in presser
    – Media/Twitter: Happy now? Got your pound of flesh?!

    1. Apparently its all out fault ? https://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/why-all-of-australia-must-own-the-ball-tampering-scandal-20180328-p4z6s2.html…..i would say a lot of australians i know have had enough of the australian cricket team for a long time. Is the expectation that we should all march on the SCG with flaming torches demanding change ?…people might grudgingly accept their cricket prowess but they can also say that they don’t need to be like dicks when they are doing it…
      Smith has come home and turned on the waterworks..contrite ? yes more than likely , Would he been if he ball had started going sideways and Australia won the test ? Would he even fess up in version 7 of his autobiography when pulls the pin on his career ? doubt it
      God knows what Warners press conference is going to be like…

  20. Now Lehmann is gone. Interesting quote from him:

    Despite telling media yesterday that I’m not resigning, after reviewing Steve and Cameron’s hurting it’s only fair that I make this decision.

    It would seem that Warner is without a friend in the game.

    1. Warner’s apology is whatever his media manager tweeted. In his head, he has, no doubt, not crossed ‘the line’.

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