David Warner’s unlikely role as self-appointed on-field peacemaker has lasted barely a fortnight with the Australian opener revealing he has been fined half his pay packet for last night’s appearance at the MCG after becoming involved in an angry exchange with India’s Rohit Sharma.
Warner admitted this morning that he was at fault for sparking the confrontation with India’s century maker halfway through the tourists’ innings in yesterday’s Carlton Mid ODI Series match that Australia won by four wickets with an over to spare.
It has led Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland to issue the in-form opener with a blunt warning “to stop looking for trouble”.
Warner approached India’s record-breaking batsman after he and batting partner Suresh Raina took an overthrow that the Australian fielder mistakenly believed had deflected off Sharma’s body – an occurrence that cricket’s etiquette dictates batsmen don’t take advantage of.
In a breakfast radio interview this morning, Warner confirmed that he had also called on the Nagpur-born Sharma to “speak English” as heated words were traded and the Australian was unable to comprehend what was being said.
Warner claimed some of his teammates fielding behind the wicket – to where Warner had thrown the ball and it was missed by ‘keeper Brad Haddin – had told him it had struck Sharma, so he took their word for it.
"I was in the wrong ... I got in trouble for technically engaging the player and you are not allowed to do that now," Warner told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio this morning.
“On the cricket etiquette side of things, when you throw a ball to the ‘keeper and it hits a player you technically don’t run.
"I think a few of the (Australian) boys said something to him and when I went over to say something to him, he sort of said something in their language and I said 'speak English' because, if you're going to say something for me to understand, theoretically I cannot speak Hindi.
"I did the polite thing and asked him to speak English, therefore he did - and I can't repeat what he said.
“I thought I was okay to ask him to speak English.”
As Warner approached Sharma immediately after the incident, Raina placed himself between the bickering pair in a bid to defuse the confrontation, as Australia’s Glenn Maxwell and later Shane Watson also had their say.
The International Cricket Council has yet to confirm any penalties handed following match referee Andy Pycroft’s investigation but Warner confirmed in his radio interview that it had cost him 50 per cent of his match fee which means he will be $1,470 lighter.
“I shouldn’t have engaged him, I should have just gone … to my fielding position, but I didn’t,” Warner said.
“I know that, and I apologised to them (the ICC match officials) because you are not allowed to walk at the player and it was between overs so I should have walked around and went to my fielding position.”
Sutherland confirmed today he had spoken with Warner in relation to the incident, and made it clear to the volatile opener that it was time he stopped seeking out confrontations as they were undermining his leadership aspirations within the team.
As recently as last November, when Test captain Michael Clarke was battling to prove his fitness for the upcoming Test series against India, Warner spoke about his ambition to be considered as a potential Australia skipper.
“I have spoken to David to understand what happened in the incident with Rohit Sharma yesterday and to remind him of his responsibilities as an Australian cricketer and a role model,” Sutherland said today.
“He has worked very hard on his leadership and behaviour over the past 12 months and I have told him very clearly that instances like this only serve to set back the progress he has made.
“Quite simply, he needs to stop looking for trouble.
“This is the second time he has been before the ICC match referee this season and that’s twice too often.
“From my discussion with David, I am satisfied that his comments to Rohit Sharma were not racially motivated.
“That said, I have reminded him that he needs to carefully reconsider the manner in which he approaches these sorts of situations in the future.”
Australia's Buppa Support Team head coach, Darren Lehmann, admitted today that the clash was “not a great look” but declined to comment specifically on Warner’s insistence that Sharma speak in his non-native English because he was unaware of the details of what had happened on the field.
“David (Warner) is an aggressive character and we support that,” Lehmann told reporters in Melbourne this morning.
“It's just making sure he does the right things on the ground and he knows that anyway, better than most.
“We'll work with him on that.
“If the ICC decide it's not in the spirit of the game or we cross the line, they'll come down on us.
“We're always going to teeter pretty close to it, that's just the way we play, but we've got to make sure we don't cross it.”
It is just two weeks since, in the lead-up to the often bad-tempered Commonwealth Bank Test Series between Australia and India, Warner publicly called on players from both sides to show restraint especially when engaging in ‘send-offs’ for batsmen after they are dismissed.
“Sometimes we’ve all got to be careful not to get over-excited and get in the batsman’s face,” Warner told a media conference at the SCG when asked whether some of the on-field exchanges between the teams had gone too far.
“Let them walk off, I think the best thing you can do is turn your back and give them the silent treatment when you get them out because you have the last laugh doing it that way.
“I know I have to learn, and I’ve learned from that in the past, but I think all of us can take a message from me.
“Which is a surprise.”
On the second day of that final Test, Australia’s Mitchell Starc was issued with an official reprimand after he admitted he had delivered a ‘send-off’ to Indian opening batsman Murali Vijay (watch that incident below).
And despite his acknowledgement that players needed to show more restraint when “getting in the face” of their opponents, Warner – who was also fined 15 per cent of his match fee for delivering a “provocative comment” during the first Test in Adelaide – says he won’t take a backward step.
He also said he did not plan to speak directly to Sharma and offer an apology despite conceding he was at fault, and added that breaching the ICC’s Code of Conduct and copping a resultant fine was an inevitable consequence of playing “hard, aggressive cricket”.
"If people get on the wrong side of me, I'm not going to back down,” the 28-year-old said this morning.
"We're always there to play hard aggressive cricket, but you know what comes with that – that’s what happens, sometimes you are going to get fined.
"We've just got to keep trying not to cross that line, we’ve got to work hard at that because we're all about playing cricket in the right way."
The Australians are also awaiting a verdict from the ICC as to what, if any, sanctions might be levelled against stand-in ODI captain George Bailey after the home took almost half an hour more than allowed to bowl their 50 overs at the MCG yesterday.