x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Australia batsman David Warner's behaviour is inexcusable

The criticism that the opener has attracted for the incident is an indicator that late-night parties will no longer be tolerated.

Australia's David Warner.
Australia's David Warner.
There was a time when Australian cricketers travelling to England on flights passed the time with parties, not catnaps or planning sessions.

Such high jinks were a sign of those distant times, when cricketers could afford to have David Boon-like physiques, when they weren't paid million-dollar retainers and when fitness trainers weren't forever in their ear about appropriate "hydration".

It would be naive to think that cricketers in 2013, despite the widespread professionalism of the more modern game, no longer overindulge at times.

The criticism that David Warner has attracted for the incident that saw him suspended from Australia's Champions Trophy squad and excluded from the first two Ashes warm-up games is an indicator that late-night parties will no longer be tolerated.

There are different versions of what happened in Birmingham.

But whether Warner was provoked or not is irrelevant. The fact that Cricket Australia have handed down such a punishment is admission enough that their player was in the wrong, that he waded in where he had no business being.

For Warner, this latest incident, coming so soon after the expletive-filled Twitter exchanges with veteran Australian journalists, couldn't have been timed any worse.

At 26, he had sometimes been mentioned as a future leader. But the current leadership vacuum - with Michael Clarke, the captain, nursing a sore back in London - has once again come under the spotlight.

In his Daily Telegraph column, Shane Warne, who wasn't renowned for his monastic lifestyle, referred to the importance of good role models.

"I was one of a group of young guys ... rubbing shoulders with David Boon, Allan Border and Ian Healy," he wrote. "If you were not on time for the bus or out too late they absolutely nailed you verbally. You felt embarrassed and as if you had let the team down.

"We had a saying: 'Before midnight is your time. After midnight is cricket time'. If you can't do what you want before midnight, then it's not worth doing."

Warner's fight with Joe Root took place around 2am, and comments from the bar management about Warner being a regular cast him in even poorer light, especially given how badly he had started the tour and the tournament.

For an embattled side that looked second-rate in the warm-up loss to India and the 48-run defeat against England, this is one more distraction.

Doubts remain over Clarke's ability to play all five Tests, and with Shane Watson going through such a wretched run in the Test arena, Warner was expected to be one of those that would need to carry the load.

Instead, if he does play the first Test at Trent Bridge on July 10, he will do so without any sort of match practice. A couple of days ago, Allan Border - who started Australia's 16-year Ashes reign in 1989 - was adamant that Ian Botham's 5-0 prediction would not come true.

If it did, said Border, he would piggyback his old adversary around Trafalgar Square.

If a couple more Australians follow the Warner lead though, it may be time for Border to start training for that embarrassing task.

In The Age, Richard Hinds was scathing. "Warner is leading a rock-star lifestyle with a club cricketer's average," he wrote. "He seems deluded by the trappings his limited achievements so far have afforded.

"Yet Warner's fame and fortune, to date, are mostly a stroke of good fortune . He can hardly claim to have contributed vastly to the game's financial well-being.

"Rather, he is the beneficiary of more than a century of goodwill accumulated by far less well-remunerated players."


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