Dear David: An open letter to David Warner

Dear David,

I am sorry to see that you have again been involved in an on field fracas that has led to you being fined.  This year we have seen you involved in these things in a number of fixtures, continuing a form line of conduct that has been a constant during your career.

I confess to you David that I am not a fan of yours.  I concede openly that you are one of the most devastating stroke players in the game and that you are fast become one of the icons of the game in this country.  Channel 9 has anointed you as one of the faces of the game and not a day goes by during the season where you are not in the press in some way.

I do not write to you to express my own thoughts about your sledging and aggressive conduct.  I have written before that I have become less engaged with the game (that I have loved for over 30 years) in part because of the way Australia plays the game and your conduct is no small part of that. Rehashing that is not my purpose.

I write to you simply to ask you to stop! Please stop! I hear all the time that there are thousands upon thousands of young cricketers who just want to be like you.  They want to bat like you.  They want to field like you. They follow your every move.  When they see you on the TV they absorb everything you do, both the good and the bad.  That means they are absorbing both the slashing cover drive that bounces off the pickets and you standing face to face in the middle of the pitch yelling at an opponent.

Kids are great mimics: I can remember trying to replicate the actions of bowlers that I enjoyed watching.  I am sure that there are young batters trying to blast a ball through backward point just like you do.  I am scared that there are young players who think it is OK to stand toe to toe with an opponent in the middle of the pitch.

My nephew is just starting to get into cricket and went to his first game a couple of weekends ago.  He still thinks that his uncle, who bowled slow medium outswingers that did not swing and whose only shot was a cover drive, is his favourite cricketer.  That will not last long: soon I fear that you will be his favourite cricketer and he will start to mimic you, both the good and the bad.

So again: I ask you to stop! Not for lifelong fans like me but for the next generations of young fans who don’t know or don’t understand that what you are doing is not the way the game of cricket should be played.

Thank you.

Best regards,

A concerned uncle and cricket fan

Australians in South Africa 2014: 3rd Test, Day 4 … Warner Wondrous and the bowler’s sublime

Australia is poised for victory at Newlands after a dominant day 4 in the third test. Forget the runs needed: On day 5 Australia need 6 wickets and and South Africa need to bat for 98 overs.

David Warner dominated with the bat on day 4 in one of his best hundreds in test cricket. His batting has simply been sublime in this series and in this innings he mixed brute strength with patience when the bowlers tested him with wide balls. He has set the game up for the Australians too because of haste with which he scores runs.

After Warner’s dominance, the bowlers came out and destroyed the South Africans in the first six overs before tea. Johnson and Harris were just outstanding mixing aggression with sublime stump to stump bowling. Just when the South Africans might have thought they had gotten to the end of the day in not a bad position Pattinson extracted Amla with a hooping inswinger.

Australia’s day again means that South Africa have not won a day and may not have won a session in this test match so far. They will need to win all three sessions on day 5 and the key man for them will again be A B de Villiers. His 16 so far has spanned 100 balls and he has the capacity to play long. The key man for Australia will be the captain: how he uses his bowlers will be vital on day 5.

Two final comments:

1. Graeme Smith’s last innings was a sad moment but also showed why his retirement was absolutely the right decision. Ricky Ponting spoke on “Australian Story” of the moment the “light went out” when it came to international cricket for him and it looks like the same has happened to Smith.

2. I commented on twitter about some the chat emanating from David Warner toward the umpires whilst batting and in the field. I have said it before and I will say it again: if Warner learned to shut his mouth he will go much further in the game. This conduct took the lustre off his hundred for me.

Tonight spells the last late night for Australian test match fans for a while and could also end with Australia sitting at number 2 in the world and within striking distance of number 1.

Australia in South Africa 2014: Warner fined but will he learn?

News coming out of ICC Central suggests that David Warner has been fined 15% of his match fee, $2,000, for his comments alleging that the South Africans had tampered with the ball in the second test.

Is fining a guy who earns well upward of $1M a year $2000 likely to act as any sort of deterrent? The short answer to that is no. The fact is though that within the ICC Code of Conduct that was about as good as the match referee can do.

Darren Lehmann has to sit down with Warner now, assuming he did not orchestrate this whole scenario, and sternly counsel him about his role in the game. As the comments of his own team mates, as noted in my earlier blog, suggest he got this monumentally wrong.

More to the point: accusing someone of cheating is about as low an act as a sportsman can commit in my view against a fellow player absent unprovoked physical violence so I sincerely hope whatever counselling is given to Warner it gets through that is stuff is just not on.

One hopes that this is the end of this fiasco in which the principal loser has been the Australian team who will now face an even more, if that is possible, opponent than they probably will have hoped for.

PostScript: I have been accused of jumping on Warner for this issue because of some personal malice against him. Stop and think for a moment Australian fans: what if a South African player had have accused the Australians of cheating after the first test? You would be massively up in arms, as would I! Just because the perpetrator here is Australia’s current golden eyed boy doesn’t mean critical comment out not also be made.

Australia in South Africa 2014: Ryan Harris speaks sense on ball tampering

I have been heartened today to read Ryan Harris’ comments on the allegations of ball tampering levelled at the South Africans by his teammate David Warner.

Harris has been variously quoted as follows:

“I’ve got no doubt what they [South Africa] did was fine, otherwise the umpires and the match referee would have done something,” Harris said.

“They [South Africa] have obviously looked after the ball a lot better than us, and if there’s anything illegal about it I’m sure we would have heard about it by now.

“They’ve obviously had experience at that ground and knew what they had to do.

“We didn’t do it well enough so we’ve just got to make sure that if it (reverse swing) happens here (in Cape Town), somehow we’ve got to get it going.

“Throwing it (the ball) into the ground, that happens in everyday cricket now as long as you’re doing it from the outfield.

“There are things that are not secret because everyone does it, and then it’s a matter of how you polish it up and what you do after that.

“But I think if there’s any scratching or anything like that done, the umpires are checking the ball every 15 overs or whatever and if they see it, they’ll change it and they’ll make a report.”

Harris has gotten this absolutely correct.  If the South Africans were tampering with the ball then they would have been reported: it is that simple.  That is precisely what happened when Faf du Plessis was charged with ball tampering in October 2013.

The fact is, and Harris himself says this, the South Africans bowled better and used the conditions better than the Australians did.  To suggest otherwise, as David Warner did, smacks of nothing other than the sourest of sour grapes.

Apparently the ICC is presently considering sanctions against Warner for his comments.  The next chapter of this saga will certainly be interesting if nothing else.

Australia in South Africa 2014: South Africa responds to David Warner and get it 100% right!

I wrote yesterday about David Warner’s comments alleging, effectively, that South Africa’s players had tampered with the ball during the Second Test match at St George’s (link available here: Australia in South Africa 2014: It is time to say it … “Please David, stop talking!” « Shumpty Speaks

Today the South African team manager, Mohammed Moosagee, replied as follows:

”David Warner’s remarks are disappointing and discouraging. It takes the gloss off a great Proteas team performance,’’ Moosagee told South African newspaper DFA.

“It smacks of sour grapes and it could just be a tactical plan to get us involved in matters that will distract our attention from this crucial Test in Cape Town.

“Hardly anyone takes anything David Warner says serious.’’

South Africa’s manager is absolutely spot on.  I repeat the sentiment of what I wrote yesterday: it is time for David Warner to remain moot on topics like this both for the betterment of his standing in the game and for Australian cricket in general.

I hope the ICC looks at the comments of Warner and takes the appropriate action.  It is the only way he will ever learn.

Australia in South Africa 2014: It is time to say it … “Please David, stop talking!”

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.