The Warner episode

I have listened to a great deal of Warne wisdom in the last couple of years and wonder if it is time for him to return to the Australian dressing room, to explain both the pure cricket good sense and the need to behave properly to young men, says the author.-PTI

That punch, by Warner, is a mystery to me because I don’t see what advantage he thought he would gain, writes Ted Corbett.

Not all that long ago there was a British politician called John Prescott, 60 or thereabouts at the time, who was deputy Prime Minister and was given not much more respect by the Parliamentary journalists than our cat.

He was tall and fat, a blunt Northerner who got his words mixed up and was, so everyone thought, only in high office because he made a contrast to the sophisticated Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Labour Party is, as you will have no trouble guessing, for the working man and they needed a contrast with the Southern sounding, Oxford and public school educated Blair.

Suddenly, the Prescott image changed. He was canvassing by the seaside, shaking hands, kissing babies and generally being a politician when some guy rushed out of the crowd and hit him with a nasty punch. In an instant the apparent buffoon turned into a boxer, up on his toes and with the timing that a Tyson or an Ali might have admired, handed a perfect left hook.

A pal of mine who has covered boxing for years said: “I’ve not seen a better punch in a championship bout. That man clearly knows how to handle himself” and similar thoughts ran round the country. The aggressor was hauled off to court and Mr. Prescott shot up the popularity ladder in quick time.

Which brings me to the only downside of the, less than adequate, punch thrown at well beyond midnight by David Warner, the Australian batsman, towards the chin of Joe Root who, incidentally looks as if he ought to take his mum with him when he goes out after tea time and who, I guess, is regularly asked to produce ID whenever he buys alcohol. He is 22 but he looks no more than 12 and I wonder how he got into the night club in the first place.

That punch is a mystery to me because — and I have since heard Warner confess to having drunk a beer or two which takes the logic out of any debate — I don’t see what advantage he thought he would gain.

Did he imagine that he would damage Root so much that Australia would win the Ashes as a result? Did he want to teach Root not to look so rosy-cheeked and youthful? Was it a warning from Warner to any Pom in the vicinity who might also want to score a run or two from Australia’s not-so-great attack as to what was coming?

Surely not. As I say a certain amount of drinking had taken place and no doubt the Warner thinking processes were out of sync.

Actually, the men who then acted as judge, jury and, give or take a definition, executioner, did not have the excuse that they had been drinking when they banned Warner until the first Test against England in July. If his fist full of gold was as bad as they thought — and they appeared to have swallowed a dictionary in order to underscore the depths of his depravity — his “glancing blow” ought to have been more severely punished.

He was fined but the main punishment was that ban for six weeks, although he was not sent home. Why not?

I also want to have a sketch of their programme for Warner ahead of the first Test. He is not allowed to play so how will they judge if he is fit to play in that Test? Yes, they have a squad packed with opening batsmen so they don’t have to play him but surely they don’t want to wait until they see him in a county game — before he makes his way back.

I refuse to subscribe to the twisted thinking that the Aussies know they are going to lose heavily and are preparing an excuse so far ahead. That is not the way to build up team morale; very un-Australian.

Perhaps when Warner has had time for reflection he will concentrate hard on a way to gain revenge. His humiliation by the British press — who have damned him for a fool and worse — might inspire great deeds which win back the Ashes.

Everyone else involved in this strange story ought to wonder about their own attitude. As I have said frequently in this column the morality of cricket — and several other sports, but mainly cricket, the gentleman’s game — was formed in the public schools where young men were taught not just how to play but how to behave like officers and toffs.

These refined young men were supposed to leave school fully adult and head for university with grace and dignity. That was fine for the sons of earls and dukes, knights and millionaire shop keepers in the 19th century but how does it fit a fair dinkum Aussie in 2013? Very badly, I suggest.

Warner has a previous conviction for a Twitter attack on two old friends of mine, Australian journalists who showed in their responses to his tweets that they could give as good as they got and still keep their senses intact.

I also thought that Shane Warne, while condemning what Warner had done, kept his own sense of proportion. I have listened to a great deal of Warne wisdom in the last couple of years and wonder if it is time for him to return to the Australian dressing room, to explain both the pure cricket good sense and the need to behave properly to young men who could not fail to listen to one of cricket’s giants.