Williamson: Warner isn't a bad person

Preparing for New Zealand's final Test against England in Christchurch, Kane Williamson defended embattled Australian David Warner.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Australia's David Warner   -  Getty Images

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson leapt to the defence of David Warner, insisting the banned Australia star is not a bad person following the ball-tampering scandal.

Warner will serve a 12-month suspension, along with Steve Smith, from all international and Australian domestic cricket for his role in the ball-tampering controversy that has overshadowed Australia's Test series against South Africa.

The axed vice-captain, who can appeal Cricket Australia's sanction, was found to have devised the ball-tampering plot during the infamous third Test in Cape Town, where Cameron Bancroft used sandpaper rather than tape in his attempt to alter the state of the ball at Newlands.

Warner continues to pay the price for the scandal, with athletic shoe manufacturer ASICS the latest company to end its sponsorship with the 31-year-old.

Preparing for the final Test against England in Christchurch, Williamson – who was set to play alongside Warner with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL – told reporters on Thursday: "He's not a bad person by any means.

"Through what's eventuated in recent times, there's been a lot of emotion and energy pointed at certain players which has gone to extreme lengths.

"It will blow over in time, but it's grown and grown and, like I say, he's not a buy guy. He's made a mistake and certainly admitted that and they are disappointed with that action."

On Smith and Warner, Williamson – whose team won the opening Test against England – added: "They will have to take the strong punishment and move on. You always learn from tough lessons and I'm sure they'll do that. But it is a shame that two fantastic, world-class players have made a mistake."

Australia head coach Darren Lehmann was cleared of any wrongdoing after a CA investigation concluded he had no knowledge of plans for Bancroft to tamper with the ball.

Lehmann broke his silence on Wednesday as he acknowledged Australia must change their ways, suggesting the embattled side should take a leaf out of New Zealand's book in how to conduct themselves.

Responding to those comments, Williamson praised former Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum.

"He was huge in that respect. Setting an environment where we wanted to play the game a certain way and it was reflected in the way we went about our business on the field, and off-field as well," Williamson said.

"That's really important and can be hard to judge because it's not always tangible, but it is so important – the team environment and culture. The performances in some ways, while not secondary, are an effect of all the hard work that goes on."

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