David Warner, Australia should go about their own business
David Warner should know that language has created enough problems for India and Australia and one has to just remember the Monkeygate episode to understand this © Getty Images


By KR Guruprasad

If David Warner ever spoke to Brett Lee about India, he would realise that learning Hindi is not such a bad idea. Be it to get millions of cricket crazy fans to like him or be it to understand sledging by Indians and maybe, even Pakistanis.

But Warner, if you read what Martin Crowe said, is “thuggish” on the field and off it too [ask Joe Root]. And he is a member of a team that wants to have the cake and eat it too as far as sledging is concerned. He is not going to take the pain to learn a foreign language as long as he thinks he can bully a visiting cricketer into responding in the language he wants.

His Sunday’s on-field spat with Rohit Sharma was totally uncalled for. The Indian was batting and minding his business and the Australian should have carried on with his. It was not just an ill-tempered outburst, the fielder was clearly trying to disturb the batsman’s concentration.

Moreover, he had the temerity to ask Rohit to reply to him in English. If Warner wants to speak to an Indian batsman out of turn, he better learn Hindi or just play.

And Australian coach Darren Lehmann has a strange logic. After Warner was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for his Sunday’s on the field fracas, Lehmann backed him and asked his players to not cross the line (ICC rules) but “teeter pretty close to it”. As if this line is a boundary rope and its a four if you make a live contact with it ball in hand and not if you miss it by a hair’s breadth.

Anyone who has followed cricket long enough knows Australians almost use sledging like a 12th man. They have called it their way of playing tough cricket and they do so with little regard for sensibilities of other cultures. And yet, they are the first to cry foul when they feel their sensitivities are hurt on the field.

When questioned about his behaviour, Warner talked about “etiquettes on the field” that Rohit supposedly did not follow. Even PG Wodehouse could not have made Jeeves anymore sarcastic. Surely, such an irony could not even be achieved by the celebrated fictional butler.

Warner should know that language has created enough problems for India and Australia and one has to just remember the Monkeygate episode to understand this.

So in what we  refer to as the gentleman’s game, there should be sledging or there should not be sledging. There should be no room for fuzzy logic such as teetering close to the line.

And the International Cricket Council (ICC) should look at this before there is an all-out brawl between idols of two mature countries.

If one were to compile top 10 sledging incidents in cricket, it is safe to assume, Australians will figure in many of them. And they seem to be alright about it because they call it “friendly banter”. And they have also tried to define what constitutes “friendly banter” and what doesn’t.

More often than not, they have also gone unpunished as authorities have largely turned a blind eye to sledging. However, things seem to be not so rosy for them now.

Before Warner’s punishment, only last week, Mitchell Starc was reprimanded for sending back Murali Vijay in an “exaggerated celebration”.

If Australians are any wiser after Sunday’s incident, they will think twice before approaching the Lehmann’s line [that sounds apt].

The Indians, especially the current crop of aggressive cricketers, will not take anything lying down and will match the opposition eye for eye, word for word, action for action. When asked to “speak English”, Sharma coolly translated his uttering [well, safe to assume it wasn’t anything complimentary] for the Australian’s benefit. Warner got more than what he asked for.

Australians form a majority of the overseas players in the Indian Premier League, and Warner has been part of it since 2009, it is surprising that he has not yet learnt ‘key’ Hindi words.

If Warner does learn Hindi and approaches Indian cricketers on the field unnecessarily, they should respond in Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada or any other language they are comfortable with. After all, Warner asked for it.

(KR Guruprasad is Assistant Editor with DNA, Mumbai. An alumnus of Asian College of Journalism, he has been associated with the sports pages of newspapers for the past 10 years. He has also worked with the Indian Express and Hindustan Times. Guruprasad is learning to play classical guitar and loves to read. He has also authored the book “Going Places: India’s Small Town Cricket Heroes”. The above article appeared first in DNA)