David Warner – Time to bell this Goliath

“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…” – That’s what happened between David Warner and Rohit Sharma last Sunday.

“So I did the polite thing and asked him to speak English, therefore he did and I can’t repeat what he said.” – Warner got that part right.

I am a big Dave Warner fan. For me, he is the best opener in the world in all formats of the game. He’s a hustler – a quintessential modern batsman, who relies on hand-eye coordination and feeds off intimidation. He’s a fighter to the core, a man any captain would want in his trenches. He reminds you of a boxer – quick off-the-blocks, fast hands, nimble footwork, terrific instincts, and boy, he can land a punch. (Ask Joe Root!)

Then, he has a big mouth and highly combustible temper.

“We’ve got to keep trying not to cross that line, and we’ve got to work hard at that, and that’s what we’re all about — playing cricket the right way.”

Sports need a little spice and the adrenaline rush can be overwhelming at times but restraint is necessary when it comes down to abuse. And action becomes absolutely mandatory when one keeps repeating the same mistake over and over again.

Dave Warner is a serial offender. He has crossed his line too many times. Way too many times. He’s done it before and he’s going to do it again.

“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.”

The above statement proves it. Every time Warner and his co-offenders get off lightly, with a fine. That’s not fine at all. Zidane lost his head once, he lost the World Cup. Beckham lost his cool, became a national villain. Cricket too needs harsher penalties – suspension and then, if repeated within a stipulated time, bans.

There have always been confrontations but it has always simmered near the edges and hardly boiled over. Of course, there have always been the Michael Slater-Rahul Dravid, McGrath-Sarwan moments of disgrace but the mercury seems to rise with every passing series.

Aggressive cricket - Really?
Aggressive cricket – Really?

Just like the crackdown on “chuckers”, the authorities need to hack down on these offenders and be merciless against all those who veil their disrespectful behaviour behind “aggressive cricket”.

“Aggressive cricket” – I have heard this term way too many times in the last few years. Especially, following the Indian cricket team, you always hear the fans grumble about MS Dhoni keeping his emotions in check and not being aggressive.

They all sprang back to life last month when Virat Kohli, the new Test captain, had a go at the opposition, first on-field and then in one of the most inane press conferences. People woke up from their slumber as Kohli and Johnson went toe-to-toe. People rubbed their hands in delight and chuckled at their machismo. Videos were made and they went viral on social media. In today’s world, the number of “fucks” one utters is directly proportional to their aggressive intent.

However, there were a few who understood the true meaning of aggression. There was a time when aggression was about handing the new ball to an off-spinner in ODIs and facing up to the “chin music” and scoring a hundred at Brisbane. Intent was evident when a captain opened the batting with a lower-order left-handed freak, hence changing the game forever. Machismo was battling back-spasms in the heat of Chennai while scripting an epic.

Aggression has been a lot of things but it never was about abusing your opponent. Aggression was Brian Lara’s bat speed. Aggression was Rahul Dravid’s determination. Aggression was Wasim Akram snaking in with the old ball. Aggression was Allan Donald’s zinc cream. Aggression was Courtney Walsh’s eyes.

Now, it’s all about good television. Nowadays, people appreciate the verbal altercations of Warner and Kohli more than their silken straight drives and audacious reverse sweeps.

The Wolf of Wall Street made it into the record books for the number of “fucks” used in the script. In a 180 minute movie, the “fuck” count was as high as 569 – a mind numbing 3.16 fucks/minute.

Dave Warner’s going the same way. He is one of the most matured batsmen around the world but as Martin Crowe rightly says, he’s the most juvenile cricketer on the cricket field. He needs to realize that the fucks don’t score for him, his talent does. He is one of those few who can play all three formats and is brutally successful. He cuts. He hooks. He drives. He scores hundreds. He scores big hundreds. He jumps high and fists the air after reaching milestones. He cries for his late friend and kisses the pitch in his remembrance.

Then he punches people. He abuses. He bullies. He picks fights. It’s high time someone belled the cat and reined him in else, to quote Russell Peters – “Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad.”

Pretty soon.


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