Former Australia Test vice-captain Adam Gilchrist has urged the team's current deputy David Warner to try and find a balance between his polar opposite on-field personas that have swung from the overtly aggressive 'Bull' to the ultra-conservative 'Reverend' and back again.
Warner found himself at the centre of a controversy after the release of CCTV camera footage on Monday that showed the Australia opener being physically restrained by teammates outside the dressing rooms at Durban's Kingsmead stadium during a heated verbal exchange with South Africa's Quinton de Kock at the tea break.
Amid allegations the on-field exchanges got 'personal', including comments about Warner's wife, Candice, the ex-keeper said the stairwell incident was "not a good look".
Gilchrist took to Twitter to suggest that while the exchange was "not a good look all round" it would have required serious provocation.
That prompted a terse response from Cricket Network pundit and former South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who said players on both sides "are happy to give it, they have to be prepared to take it, too". A notion to which Gilchrist responded "Whatever the case, going personal is rubbish from anyone".
Gilly- Warner crossed many personal boundaries with the South Africans, so we can’t be surprised when there is eventually a reaction. If players are happy to give it,they have to be prepared to take it,too. On both sides!— Graeme Smith (@GraemeSmith49) March 5, 2018
But agreed not a good look. #SAvsAUS https://t.co/obTo0GO2H8
Warner has adopted divergent on-field personalities in recent times, about which the Australia vice-captain has spoken in-depth, having entered international cricket as a brash, combative competitor.
That character, which earned Warner his nickname 'Bull', then gave way to a figure that Warner himself dubbed 'The Reverend' as he relished in his role as devoted husband and father and took an increasingly Zen-like approach to consciously avoiding conflict and antagonism.
However, prior to start of the current Qantas Tour of South Africa – which the 31-year-old joined late as he was successfully captaining Australia's T20 outfit in a tri-series against England and New Zealand – it was revealed he planned to revisit his role as the 'Bull' in an attempt to possibly gain an edge over South Africa.
"It was really extreme the opposite way," Gilchrist told Melbourne radio station SEN today in relation to Warner's conscious change of character that had preceded the stairwell confrontation and his overt celebration upon effecting a crucial run-out earlier in the day.
"Now he's come back again saying 'old Davey's back' and all his teammates are saying 'the Reverend's gone, Bull's back'.
"It's always a worry in any situation when someone is so extreme in one direction or the other.
"I think Davey's got to find somewhere in between that.
"He does pride himself in being a leader of the team, he did that very well in the T20s as captain.
"But what we've seen in the last 24 hours probably isn't the images that you want your captain projecting."
Gilchrist also claimed that while the on-field 'roasting' of young South Africa batter Aiden Markram over his role in Warner's crucial run-out of the Proteas star player AB de Villiers was typical of on-field gamesmanship from most teams, the Australia celebration "seemed over the top".
While pointing out that might have been the result of ongoing tensions between individual players or previous confrontations that had gone unnoticed, he expected some of the incidents to attract the attention of the game's disciplinarians.
The 46-year-old, who spent much of his career as deputy to Steve Waugh and then Ricky Ponting but captained Australia in six Tests and 17 ODIs, suggested that Warner also owed a debt of gratitude to teammates including Usman Khawaja and Tim Paine who led him away from a potential altercation.
"It's not a good look, and if there's one thing that David Warner needs to be very thankful of, it's for his teammates being in the way there," Gilchrist said.
"Because if they were not there and he goes on the path that he was intending, who knows what would have happened.
"In any sporting contest, in any contest, when you start getting a bit violent on or off the field it's a no-brainer, it's not acceptable.
"I don't know what provoked it, but it's not something you can do and you've got to be able to balance that up and contain that.
"I've been in heated exchanges before and I know that it can get really difficult because you have so much pride in representing your country.
"You want to do it well and you've got methods and ways of going about that, but I think on reflection and watching that, once the emotion and the aggression is taken away from it David has to be a little bit disappointed that he's done that and allowed this whole discussion to start up."
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13. Live coverage
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage