David Warner

David Warner (above) was kicked out of the Australian squad after punching England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar during June © AFP

Pretoria, Gauteng: Jul 29, 2013
Controversial Australian batsman David Warner said Sunday that heated on-field exchanges with a South African rival in Pretoria were “friendly banter”.

An umpire had to halt play twice Saturday as sledging between Warner and Thami Tsolekile in a drawn four-day ‘A’ international reached boiling point.

Warner sledged wicketkeeper Tsolekile while the South African was batting Friday and the war of words resurfaced 24 hours later when the Australian was at the LC de Villiers Oval crease.

“Great to be back playing cricket, had lots of fun this week and a bit of friendly banter from the wicketkeeper. Was very funny!” Warner tweeted.

Cricket Australia (CA) declined to intervene, saying in a statement that “no report has been filed by the umpires and no action will, therefore, be taken”.

The exchanges became so heated Saturday that Vaughn van Jaarsveld had to pull Tsolekile away from Warner, who was sent to Africa to sort out batting and behaviour issues.

The 26-year-old left-hander was kicked out of the squad preparing for a five-Test Ashes series after punching England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar during June.

“He needs match practice and runs in the longer format and the Australia A games will provide him with the best possible opportunity,” said Ashes selector John Inverarity.

But it has been a mixed tour for Warner with meagre innings of eight and 11 in an 80-run victory over a Zimbabwe Select at Harare Sports Club.

He found top form against South Africa A last Thursday to score 193, and made 33 in his second knock before being caught by Tsolekile off the bowling of Beuran Hendricks.

Australia are expected to recall Warner to England ahead of the third Test in Manchester from Thursday as they trail 2-0 after some woeful top-order batting.