“You draw the line there,” he said pointing at the podium floor below him, “That’s the line you don’t cross.” This was David Warner’s talking about ‘crossing the line’ in terms of antagonistic behaviour on the field of play after the fourth day’s play of the Boxing Day Test. It was a response to a question. For, the combative opener had by then already mentioned the ‘line’ on a few occasions that evening.
On Sunday at the MCG he proved yet again that the line remained as arbitrary as ever for him, getting into his latest on-field squabble of the Australian summer. Rohit Sharma was his victim this time around. The incident that prompted Warner to unleash himself was rather innocuous. Rohit had pushed a ball to mid-off and set off for a run. Warner had picked up the ball and thrown it towards the strikers’ end.
The ball went past Rohit and the stumps prompting him to run for an overthrow. A peeved Warner then was all over the opener, exchanging words and apparently accusing Rohit of having compromised the ethics of the game, claiming that the ball had touched his pads. As it turned out, Warner was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for the wrangle.
Never one to back down though—the man referred to by some as the Mouth from Matraville—went on to a radio station and explained his actions in his typically brusque fashion.
“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,” he said to Sky Sports Radio.
“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,” he added.
Warner’s repeated misdemeanours on the field haven’t gone down too well with a number of experts around Australia. Even coach Darren Lehmann expressed his discontent over the Warner-Rohit clash, insisting that it didn’t have a ‘great look’.
“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,” said Lehmann.
“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,” the coach added.
So when Joe Root turned up for a press conference at the Gabba on Monday it was only natural that he was grilled about his long-time nemesis’ incessant clashes with the cricket law. There are some in Australia who fear that if Warner continues to remain as confrontational as he’s been this summer it was just a matter of time before things go out of hand. And Root knows all about getting into an actual fisticuff with Warner.
“Someone will have to be in a really bad place to do it. You have to score runs and pick wickets. Things have happened over the last six months but I don’t see it happening. It is not ice-hockey!” said Root. As the day wore on CA too came down hard upon their in-form opener, asking him to ‘stop looking for trouble’.
“Quite simply, he needs to stop looking for trouble. This is the second time he has been before the ICC match referee this season and that’s twice too often,” said Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland. Maybe they could just draw that line for him and insist that he doesn’t cross it.