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.
That is the subtext of any comment from captain or coach after David Warner has behaved like a bit of a prick. “He’s an aggressive player and we don’t want him to lose that edge,” they say.
They say this because they know the truth: picking fights with people as a fielder has a direct impact on Warner’s batting. It’s hard for you to comprehend, because watching on TV you can’t actually see his special superhero belt. But it’s there. It’s real. He wears it underneath his whites; it has a series of lights along it; and they illuminate as he powers up.
Warner gains energy from behaving like a six-year-old, so he needs to ‘get involved’ and showcase his complete inability to see another person’s perspective every chance he gets. Each time he does this, another of his belt lights goes on until he is fully powered-up and ready to bat. At that point, he finally turns his attention to cricket.
David Warner paid his own tribute to Phil Hughes by flaying a whole series of fours in the air through the off side. Chris Rogers then provided the context by demonstrating just how hard it is to middle the wide ball angling across a left-hander. Edged to slip? Where was the open-faced scythe to the boundary, man?
Warner’s 10th hundred in 33 Tests takes his average within a spit of 50. He did for the opening bowlers to such an extent that India were relying on Ishant Sharma to bring the run-rate down. For all Sharma’s qualities, that’s usually a sign that things have gone horribly wrong.
India’s other bowler was Karn Sharma, a legspinner, who was making his debut. We presume R Ashwin has again been omitted on the basis of his poor overseas record – something that he is going to struggle to correct from the dressing room. Thus far, Karn Sharma’s built a piss-poor overseas record of his own, but there’s little point judging him on day one of an Australian Test match. He does appear to have moobs, however.
The other big news was Michael Clarke retiring hurt. The injuries are coming with the frequency of Warner boundaries these days and we’re starting to think we might not see much more of Australia’s captain. We daresay he finds it rather frustrating. We do and we have pretty much nothing vested in his career.
Clarke’s opposite number was Virat Kohli because MS Dhoni is slightly injured and slightly resting ahead of the World Cup. From what we saw, Kohli can do stern-faced pointing in sunglasses with the best of them. He did however lose the toss, which is something to work on before his next match as captain.
Nobody’s happy about that fact, but we might as well get used to it because when he shuts that toolish mouth and plays cricket, he can score some runs.
One thing we really like about this Australian team is that it’s a lesson to everyone on the importance of having diversity within your team. Australian wickets tend to herald change, whereas an incoming England batsman is typically ‘much like the last guy, only more so’.
You need to mix things up. If blocking and leaving isn’t a valid strategy, England tend to gradually move towards ‘really, really blocking and leaving’. In contrast, Australia have one opener trying to split the leather every chance he gets and another who basically just likes standing at the non-striker’s end.
Sometimes obduracy is the better approach. Sometimes giddy pummelling is the way to go. Australia’s opening partnership is almost like a fact-finding mission, allowing the rest of the team to gather information on how they should approach things. Whichever opener’s out first, do the opposite.
The perfect team
Good sides are rarely one-dimensional. That goes for batting and bowling. The perfect cricket team would be a sickly mélange of top chaps and bell ends of all shapes and sizes, boasting a troubling array of mental health problems and physical abnormalities. It would be like a cross between the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons and my local pub on days when a herd of idiots decide to stop in after the football.
We haven’t really given much thought to Australia’s other five batting slots which means we can pitch Bailey v Warner as being a battle for the sixth one. They’ll almost certainly both play in the first Ashes Test, but let’s gloss over this so that we’ve got something to say today.
David Warner is the incumbent – albeit an incumbent who’s been dropped. Such is cricket. Warner played in Australia’s last Test, but has been dropped for one-day cricket, which is supposed to be what he’s good at. However, after skiving a club match to go to the races, he has since hit three hundreds in four innings, including 197 off 141 balls against Victoria. It’s all been in domestic one-day cricket, but it’s undeniably impressive.
But what of George Bailey? The other day we said that one-day form combined with not being a complete child is probably enough to warrant Bailey being selected in Australia’s Test team and we stand by that. After kicking off Australia’s short format tour of India with a duck (Rajkot, not Bombay), he’s hit 85 off 82 balls, 92 not out off 50 balls, 43 off 60 balls and 98 off 94 balls.
Different format, different conditions, but also different situations. Bailey appears to have the qualities that so many Aussie batsmen currently seem to lack – adaptability and the ability to respond to a given match situation. Plus he’s smart, outspoken and pleasingly non-corporate. We therefore conclude that Australia should pick Matt Weaver, who played three Ryobi Cup innings and scored a whole 10 runs.
British Cycling’s psychiatrist, Steve Peters, wrote a book called The Chimp Paradox. The basic premise is that the emotional, impulsive parts of your brain can almost be considered a separate being – the inner chimp. We respond to things emotionally, but it’s often better to suppress these reactions and first apply logic before deciding on a course of action.
David Warner strikes us as being someone who doesn’t have a real grip on his chimp. There have been a whole series of events involving him which smack of a bloke getting het up about something and then acting without engaging the higher part of the brain.
The verdict from many is that there is no higher part to Warner’s brain, but whenever he’s interviewed in a calm state of mind, he seems to us to be a bright, self-aware kind of bloke. We actually quite like him. He appears to see the crowd’s treatment of him for what it truly is – pantomime – which is easier said than done when you’re the target. He also managed to joke about being caught by Joe Root, which was kind of endearing.
Warner’s the kind of guy who will do something completely moronic in the heat of the moment and then be genuinely remorseful, only to again react stupidly the next time he’s in an emotionally-charged situation. It’s not really about learning from his mistakes, because he knows when he’s an idiot. It’s more a question of whether he can keep his inner chimp from shrieking and flinging excrement when his blood’s up.
There’s no need to make comparisons or to try and find something even less interesting. Let’s just appreciate these words for their exquisite emptiness and leave it there.
There’s been a lot going on with Warner. He’s been in strife, he’s been punished, he’s claimed his behaviour contributed to Mickey Arthur’s dismissal, he’s just scored 193.
Tell us about it Dave:
“I decided here I’d just come in and be positive from the start and when the ball was there to hit, I hit it. That’s how I played and it came off.”
After that, he made a really big – probably suspiciously big – effort to underline just how well he gets on with Shane Watson, both on and off the field.
Anyone trying so hard to be this boring really is serious about getting back into the Test team.
Okay, brace yourselves for this. Something Australia have tried to do has kind of half-worked. David Warner was dispatched to Africa to become a non-rubbish number four batsman and has just scored 193 against South Africa A. They were 46-2 when he arrived at the crease as well, so it’s decent preparation should he get back into the Test team.
England might need to pick a number four batsman as well should Kevin Pietersen not recover from calf-knackage. Hopefully that won’t be necessary, because we can’t be bothered thinking or writing about who might replace him and whether or not they’re the right person.
They were in a Walkabout. Of all the pubs in Birmingham, David Warner and Joe Root opted to go to an Australian-themed bar which uses the slogan: “Home of the awesome spirit of Australia.”
This makes Warner look like a homesick child, desperately clinging to anything even faintly Antipodean, while Root has basically committed treason.
Regarding the confrontation, The Sydney Morning Herald says it featured a ‘glancing blow’ to Root’s chin. Sounds to us like Warner chinned Root and the wee man took it like a proper Yorkshireman.
Why did it happen? Well, that’s a matter for conjecture. Why not go on Twitter and read some hilarious jokes about bullying. Joe Root looks really young, you see.
Update: Apparently Root had been wearing a wig as a fake beard. Warner pulled it off before swinging, clearly believing that fake hair would entirely neuter his weedy blow. This may also shed light on the motive for the act: David Warner will not stand for inappropriate usage of a wig.
We’ve some sympathy for the young, millionnaire cricketer, David Warner – and it’s not just because he’s Australian. We feel that sympathy – just a small amount – because he’s been branded a Twenty20 player.
Warner’s done well off the back of Twenty20, but he’s always going to have to strive that little bit harder for respect now, no matter what he achieves. Like a left-handed artist or a left-handed carpenter or a left-handed teacher, his triumphs will only be reluctantly acknowledged by the public.
That Twenty20 brand will always be there. It’ll fade when he bats well, but it’ll shine like a xenon headlight bulb every time he fails. There’s something a bit snobby about it all.
Twenty20 and Test cricket aren’t different species with a common ancestor, they’re the same species. They can interbreed. A successful Twenty20 batsman is likely to have a good eye, which is a quality shared by all the best Test batsmen. A successful Test batsman will be a good decision-maker, which is also a great attribute in Twenty20.
If there were no Twenty20 cricket, David Warner might not be making his Test debut, but that’s hardly his fault. If anything, he seems to be approaching his Test career rather admirably. With three first-class hundreds in 11 games and an average of 60, he’s doing his bit on the pitch and apparently he’s spent long hours in the nets simply to practise batting for a long time.
He was out for three on his Test debut today, playing a short ball like he’d never seen one before. Maybe he hadn’t.