What is going through David Warner’s head? Not much it seems.
Australia are undoubtedly a great cricket side. The current team have some world-class players, and arguably Warner probably rates as one of the best.
But he does the baggy green and cricket Australia a disservice. At best he’s an extremely talented yet petulant child. At worst, he’s a yobbo with license to carry on as he sees fit on a world stage.
I’ll show my colours; I’m a Kiwi. No surprises there, a Kiwi bagging Aussie cricketers. And it’s true there are times I’ve been less than charitable to the Australian cricket side. Sometimes they deserved it, sometimes they didn’t.
But more often than not the comments were tongue in cheek, or returning fire in a bit of banter and there is a begrudging respect for the way Australia play the game.
I spent a few years living in Adelaide and loved watching games at the Oval. I loved the crowds, I loved the banter, and more than anything I loved the way the domestic teams played the game.
I remember travelling to Sydney in 2009 to watch the Black Caps play Australia in an ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Yes, New Zealand lost. But in another chapter of cricketing theatre, Grant Elliott scored a hundred and Brendon McCullum batted with a busted hand to almost steal victory. Almost.
Despite Australia having dropped a few games going into the match, it was played in good spirits. There was nothing I could yell at the Australian players that their own fans weren’t already yelling, and more.
I will never forget one of the locals turning to us, casting a critical eye over our beige supporter’s gear and saying ‘I do love your fawn and mocha tops’ before offering a beer.
There was so much to enjoy about that day, from the pre-match yarns in the surrounding pubs, the banter with the fans at the ground, to just enjoying the iconic members stand and quality of the match itself.
The series between New Zealand and England has been played in good spirits and has been a fantastic watch so far with some dramatic finishes. The Australia-South Africa series should be a step up again. It doesn’t need guys abusing each other or being separated off the field to create interest. Let the quality of cricket speak for itself.
But these days Australia seem a bit more focused on flexing their muscle than playing the game.
In 2016, Warner responded to the ICC crack down on sledging and trotted out this gem: “People think I’m this big, muscly guy that can give it to people on the field and whatnot, but that’s just how I play my game, that’s how I get up (for the occasion) and it’s what helps me strive to succeed for our team.”
Warner is five feet 7, and 75kg. It is interesting that is how he sees himself. Is that what all the noise and posturing is really about, some sort of need to prove himself as the big man at every opportunity? I sincerely hope not; his bat does more than enough talking.
Warner is making it harder and harder to respect Australian cricket. His childish on and off-field outbursts serve only to illustrate the current lack of leadership in the Australian team and his own lack of imagination.
The reality is there have been no repercussions for Warner’s behaviour. It’s all been swept up into some sort of broad definition of gamesmanship endorsed by captain, coach and cricket Australia.
There is such a thing as being poor winners.
How is his behaviour acceptable? Would the Australian public accept this if it was Bernard Tomic or Nick Kyrgios? The why accept it from Warner?
His supporters will say it’s because he’s passionate about representing Australia. I don’t doubt that.
If he’s really passionate about representing Australia then maybe he should respect its history too and just take a moment before he speaks. If he can spot a fast ball and crack it to the fence in 0.5 of a second, he can certainly pause before barking ‘speak English’ at Virat Kholi.
Warner has stated he is considering a post cricket career in politics, and in some respects his attitude probably wouldn’t hurt with that particular vocation.
And that’s the thing; if he is starting to think about his future after the game, maybe he should start thinking about his legacy to the game.
Does he want to be remembered as the guy with the big bat, or the guy with the big mouth?