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Test match cricket is an intense sport. Concentration levels are tested as players set for and then relax after an incoming ball 540 times in a day’s play; 540 times a day for up to five days.
Stress levels are often compounded when things are not going well for the fielding side, so things are invariably said to put the batters off their game.
Likewise, some batters prefer to keep the silence, while others may be inclined to remind the bowler of their current form.
We as mere spectators understand it is tense, but seeing the footage of David Warner spewing language at Quinton de Kock as they were making their way off the field in the first Test was ugly.
Warner is relentless in the field. He sees it as part of the game and, like many players, feels sledging is an integral part of the game. He wore the ‘attack dog’ moniker with pride.
Therefore, Warner must have a guide for what are acceptable ‘attack dog’ jibes and what are not, likely guided by the people he answers to – or they would have reprimanded him.
Somewhere, at some time, Cricket Australia must have held discussions on what is acceptable. Apparently, the ‘line’ is mentioning families.
I’m not sure if Australians involved in the think tank for on-field jibes took into account cultural differences from other nations when they determined the only sacrosanct item to be families.
Personal attacks seem to be acceptable, as Warner’s comments on the boundary to his South African opponent have largely been dismissed by the Aussie hierarchy.
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Australia have decided that De Kock was out of line in his apparent comments about Warner’s wife. If De Kock did say those things it was poor form, but possibly justified based on South Africa’s code of conduct.
But this arbitrary line of not mentioning families is ludicrous. Warner has no idea how personal some of the barbs he slings at others are taken. Do they bite as hard as a throwaway line about his wife, which Warner finds offensive? Did Warner not expect some retribution?
Was Warner upset that his wife was mentioned, or that De Cock was finally tired of the personal insults and put the Aussie in his place?
Simply put, De Cock beat Warner at his own game, which may be why Warner reacted the way he did – best served cold and all that considered.
I recall years ago witnessing a young guy, just starting out at a company, who was constantly being chipped away at by an older, more senior employee. Some might call it sledging.
There were suggestions, but no direct accusations, about the young staffer’s manhood, sexuality, demeanour and the like. To top it off, the younger man was always referred to as “boy” by the senior staffer.
After weeks of daily taunts, the young staffer was abruptly addressed one day as “boy” in front of a group of other senior staffers by the antagonist. The young staffer made his one and only retort to the senior staffer that day: “At least your wife calls me ‘big boy’.”
The senior staffer fumed and made a lunge at the junior. Colleagues grabbed him and led him off. The junior continued to drink his coffee.
Lessons were learned by all that day and the senior staffer was finally seen in the ugly glow of his incessant nastiness – what people would call bullying today.
I wonder what that then-young staffer thinks of David Warner today.