david

Australia has always been a team when they do get on top you hear a lot from the field so for us it is making those opportunities as little as possible. I have played against Australia a number of times and think it [the current side] is a little bit different from the team of old. The two of us now play a similar brand of cricket and more let the cricket do the talking, said South Africa’s stand-in skipper Faf du Plessis after recently whitewashing the Steven Smith-led Australia 5-0 in a ODI series. But his comments do highlight the changing times.

World cricket is not used to a mild-mannered Australian side that the team has been under the leadership of Smith and this is something even former Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson does not appreciate. At least, his autobiography, Resilient, suggests so. The menacing left-armer wrote that the Australian side lost the edge that they held over their opponents after the retirement of Brad Haddin and David Warner’s attempt to improve his image. Warner’s career almost came to a closure after he punched Joe Root in a Birmingham bar. His troubles with alcohol and behaviour led him to self introspect and change his approach.

The mild Australian side went on to lose the Ashes 3-1 in 2015 and Johnson felt this was an issue. Drawing comparisons between Haddin and their current wicketkeeper Peter Nevill, Johnson wrote, Pete [Nevill] is a fine keeper and a good batsman but, in terms of personality, they [he and Haddin] couldn t be further apart. Hadds is the enforcer, he loves a scrap and if he finds an opening in an opponent he is in there digging around straight away. I came to miss that in the following Tests.”

He then discussed the “silent” Warner.

Davey Warner had taken a vow of silence or something. He d copped a lot of criticism for his scraps on the field, including from the chief executive at Cricket Australia and the ICC so now he was a vice-captain he backed off.

It wasn t a great thing for the rest of us. Test cricket is a long game and conflict boosts your energy. Sometimes when we ve been in the field all day a clash gets my adrenalin running again. There definitely wasn t enough conflict that winter.

Sometimes I looked around for somebody to start a war of words but nobody did. Hadds was absent. Davey was silent, he said.

Warner had given up on alcohol too ahead of the Ashes. Though a changed Warner did not help Australian fortunes back then but he has now grown as a fantastic cricketer. He is an asset in all three formats, scoring heavily for Australia and earlier this year, led Sunrisers Hyderabad to their maiden IPL win. The approach has benefitted Warner and he is being looked as Australia’s potential captain.

Australia will take on South Africa in a series of three Tests next month Down Under and du Plessis will be leading the visitors. We will get to see how the changed Australia fare at home against a tough opposition.