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Brain snap is just symptom of players' wider malaise

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Cook insists England not to blame in Warner spat

England captain Alastair Cook says he's disappointed with the distraction caused by the nightclub altercation between David Warner and Joe Root, but has urged his side to move on.

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It just had to be Joe Root didn't it? Why couldn't David Warner have taken a swing at Kevin Pietersen? At one time or another, most of the South African batsman's English teammates have wanted to.

He is beneficiary of more than a century of goodwill accumulated by far less well remunerated players. 

It says something about the state of Australian cricket that Warner took a crack at a headline writer's dream. The reason many believe that, without a substantial change in form and attitude, the Ashes campaign is already - sorry, I can't resist - rooted. Laugh or you might cry.

Water boy: David Warner was stood down from the Champions Trophy match between Australia and New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

Water boy: David Warner was stood down from the Champions Trophy match between Australia and New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Hear reports Root received a ''glancing blow'' and wonder if it showed up on Hot Spot. Muse that at least Warner has increased his recent strike rate. Wonder who has suffered the most at the flailing fists of Australian sportsmen in recent days - Root, Nate Myles or a corner-post flag at Etihad Stadium?

The unfortunate surname of Warner's victim? Not even a former English captain could resist the ribald punnery. ''Good start to the tour for Warner,'' tweeted Michael Vaughan. ''Getting a Root early …!!!'' Boom boom.

And so on and so on until you have almost convinced yourself Warner's incredible lack of discipline was just a harmless night out with the lads; that it was not symbolic of a malaise that has gripped the Australian team, and which imperils their seemingly slender chances of bringing back the urn.

Joe Root was the subject of an 'unprovoked' attack, says the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Joe Root was the subject of an 'unprovoked' attack, says the England and Wales Cricket Board. Photo: Getty Images

Which, of course, it was. Regardless of the circumstances that remain - to use a term favoured in political circles - fluid.

What happened at the Walkabout in Birmingham? An establishment where, at 2am, you would expect to find raucous backpackers, but not necessarily elite international sportsmen engaged in a tournament of admittedly dubious worth? Australia have not played spin well recently. So be careful of what is being pitched up now.

The English authorities took to the moral high ground like veteran Sherpas. Indeed, so rapid was their ascent, you could not help suspect they were eager to strike an early blow in the (hopefully) less violent proceedings that will take place on the field.

Root, they swiftly said, was the victim of an ''unprovoked physical attack''. The Yorkshireman was, as it were, rooted to the spot as Warner did his best.

But wait. Soon there were whispers Root had been using a wig - naturally, twentysomething international cricketers drinking in a public place wear novelty wigs - as a beard. Some sort of clumsy impersonation of South African batsman Hashim Amla, it was ventured.

Warner, we were invited to believe, took offence. Which is where several pints of the innkeeper's finest and reality part ways, and some sober thinking is required.

An impersonation of Amla is not an invitation to be punched in the face. Regardless of what a generation of bowlers stonewalled by the obdurate South African batsman might think.

Which leaves us with the unvarnished truth. Warner has acted like an oaf. Again. He deserves swift and immediate punishment. Team management needs to draw a line in the sand. And not just to start a game of beach cricket.

But putting Warner on the next flight home will not solve the issue at the - sorry - root of Australia's problems. Many of the Australian players are not good enough to justify the hype that accompanies their underachievement. Certainly not good enough to justify the money they are being paid.

Warner is leading a rock star lifestyle with a club cricketer's average. He seems deluded by the trappings his limited achievements so far have afforded. Riches automatically bestowed on our ''elite'' players through a contractual system that fails to distinguish between the relative plodders of today and the superstars of the past. Contracts that will grow in proportion with the vast new television-rights deal recently signed by Cricket Australia, and augmented by the Monopoly money of the IPL.

Yet Warner's fame and fortune, to date, are mostly a stroke of good fortune. He is the right man at - for Australian cricket - the wrong time. He can hardly claim to have contributed vastly to the game's financial well-being. Rather, he is the beneficiary of more than a century of goodwill accumulated by far less well-remunerated players.

With such great fortune comes responsibility. Something Warner has shirked. Don't moan, then, that he is the victim of a rapacious media or merely a participant in some blokey high jinks.

Otherwise, the only way Australia will dismiss the English is by knocking them out.

Twitter - @rdhinds

rhinds@fairfaxmedia.com.au

203 comments

  • Can't wait for the Twitter tirade after this article!

    Of course, anyone with a modicum of common sense will agree with every word printed, but I'm assuming Warner will react in his usual manner...

    Commenter
    Chris
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 13, 2013, 11:21AM
    • not only should they send him home they should send the people keeping him there home as well

      Commenter
      nikraf of vic
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 12:06PM
    • Warner should be sentenced to the humiliation of having to play in all ten Ashes tests.

      Commenter
      Slick
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 12:46PM
    • Interesting that this quote from the Telegraph in the UK does not appear in any Australian newspaper.......The manager of the Walkabout said England and Australia players had been in the VIP area between 1.30am and 2.30am on Sunday.

      "None of the group seemed to have been drinking to excess and were just having a good time," John Creighton told Sky Sports.

      "There was a small altercation between Warner and Root. This was dealt with very amicably and quickly by the rest of the group and both were calmly chatting to each other immediately afterwards.

      "They all left a short while later and a small bar tab was picked up by David Warner."

      Not defending Warner....but still, it does tell a different story !

      Commenter
      Moose
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 1:11PM
    • PUNT HIM !
      Replace with Punter.

      Commenter
      Ritchie
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 1:25PM
    • I'm surprised that Richard Hinds didn't blame Paul Gallen for being a poor role model.

      Commenter
      Farcough
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 1:26PM
    • @Moose - three things:

      1. Not sure I'd be trusting the accuracy of a UK tabloid!
      2. If there was nothing in it, why did CA suspend him for bringing the game into disrepute?
      3. Still doesn't address the question of why players thought it a good idea to go out late at night on the drink two days before a game.

      But yes, maybe Warner is actually a saint and everything has just been a giant misunderstanding...

      Commenter
      Chris
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 1:37PM
    • Over paid, over rated and over there. Leave the Bogan where he is. Surely we need a orange boy, boot studer or cleaner for the tour we dont want him back here.

      " I know" maybe he can have the job of changing the scoreboard numbers. Wonder if he will be going to Wimbleton he could sit with Tomics old man.

      Commenter
      Goatygun
      Location
      Mornington
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 1:42PM
    • Can't agree more. The good news is that he is displaying the same behavior that Ponting did early in his career (although they tended to punch him out rather than the other way). The bad news is that he isn't in a dominant side like Ponting was. This is something they just don't need given they are genuinely struggling and this will only distract the team preparations. Sending him home won't be a big problem either given they have 5 openers in the side and he hasn't been getting runs anyway. Yes he is a good player but he needs to learn how to behave in the public arena given that is a key part of his job as a professional sportsman. .

      Commenter
      Lance
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 1:52PM
    • @ Chris - the tabloid can be checked against the bar if need be, as for 2 - well when you make the paper in unglowing terms (innocent or not) you are bringing the game in to disrepute and as for 3 - there were a group of them but only Warner is being singled out for something totally differenty so I must assume being on the drink late at night is not the issue for CA. Nevertheless you hold him down and I'll go get the tar and feathers. We need more witch hunting, there is not enough of it these days.

      Commenter
      Tired Camel
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 2:03PM

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