I have commented on twitter and on this blog that I think the Australian cricket team needs to talk less and focus on their cricket: both when they are winning and losing. I am all for a bit of sledging here and there but it appears that a cornerstone of the Darren Lehmann era is a return of the “ugly” Australians as a team using verbal slights as an ongoing tactic.
Now I repeat: I am ok with sledging on the field. It has it’s place and, indeed, has always been part of the game. Where I have concerns though is in the off field chiding of the opposition in press conferences and radio interviews. Michael Clarke has done it. Darren Lehmann has done. The most regular recent offender of late is David Warner who, as late as today, has openly accused the South Africans of cheating.
To paraphrase Warner has accused AB de Villiers, particularly, and the South Africans in general of excessive ball scuffing and posits that that scuffing was behind their excellent bowling performance in the second test. Warner goes on to, repeatedly, to state that the Australians would be bringing it up with the umpires.
How is Warner, who is neither the captain, the coach, the manager or a selector of the team, entitled to make such comments? And how is it appropriate in the middle of an evenly matched test series? To me, there is no reasonable excuse for such conduct. These comments only serve, in my view, to make the Australians look like poor losers and to inspire the South Africans to strive even harder to best us.
Warner’s profile in the press has been massive: during the Ashes series Channel 9 took part in an orchestrated plan to improve Warner’s image through interviews with him and his family and he is, frankly, the darling of those who sit in the Channel 9 box. Additionally though, it would be a rare on field “blow up” that Warner has not been involved in.
Darren Lehmann or John Inverarity or even James Sutherland must sit him down now and tell him to shut his mouth. For his own sake: because this current focus on the verbal from him is distracting from his current rich vein of form. For his team because he continues to “fire up” his opponents needlessly. For cricket because allegations such as this should be dealt with through the proper channels rather than in the press.
I have come around to the fact Warner is destined to be Australia’s opening batsman for some time to come and, on form, he deserves to do so. Until he stops talking though, on the field when unnecessary and when off the field, he will not win over the fans that he and Channel 9 fought so hard to win him in 2013.