David Warner has been in the thick of quite a few controversies in recent times, but he should not be labelled as dishonest © Getty Images
By Adrian Meredith
David Warner had an outburst on Twitter not long ago that earned him a major sanction from Cricket Australia. This was after Warner complained to a journalist who put his [Warner] photo alongside a news headline saying “match-fixing probe”, which gave the possible impression that he [Warner] was a match fixer. Warner could have sued the journalist for defamation and could have won. His outburst was not inappropriate. But Warner was censured, just because it made Cricket Australia’s image look bad.
Later, Warner saw Joe Root wearing a beard that he thought was making fun of Hashim Amla. According to Root, it was more making fun of Root’s inability to grow a beard, and the similarities to Amla’s beard were coincidental. According to reports, Warner landed a punch at Root for being racist, but did not connect. Warner was subsequently banned for a month for this, not because of any complaints at the time, but because of a complaint two weeks later by a New Zealand player, on the eve of Australia playing against New Zealand in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – quite timely, from New Zealand perspective. Warner lost his place in the team over it. All for standing up against what he thought was racism!
Warner’s brother said something on Twitter, though I can’t recall the exact words, and the Australian opener had to issue a public apology for that.
In the ongoing series against the South Africans, Warner was reported as saying that Vernon Philander wasn’t really injured last time they played, and was actually dumped — as evidenced by him bowling in the nets two days into the Test starting, and the fact that he had such horrible figures in the first Test of that series. Nobody censured him because he was telling the truth. But the South Africans didn’t like it. Warner also said that Philander was not a good bowler. And he returned horrible figures in the first Test, and was almost dumped for the second, before the pitch was sufficiently doctored to give Philander a chance.
The latest comment made by Warner is that he thinks that AB de Villiers may have deliberately scuffed up the ball with his wicket-keeping gloves and by throwing the ball into the dirt on purpose — in other words, ball-tampering. The reason why South Africa got reverse swing. Many people have criticised him for being a “sore loser”, but Warner didn’t get out to reverse swing, nor did he score poorly. He has been Australia’s best batsman in this series. And video footage has proven that de Villiers was meddling with the ball. Whether it was enough to warrant a charge, maybe not. But he was definitely tampering with the ball. And South Africa have been found guilty of ball tampering just four months ago and Faf du Plessis was banned for it.
People can criticise Warner for saying things the wrong way, but his integrity should not be questioned. He may be a brute and he may be very blunt, but he is not dishonest. He has copious integrity.
(Adrian Meredith, an Australian from Melbourne, has been very passionate about cricket since he was seven years old. Because of physical challenges he could not pursue playing the game he so dearly loved. He loves all kinds of cricket – from Tests, ODIs, T20 – at all levels and in all countries and writes extensively on the game)