Dean Jones: Australia have bottled severity of David Warner's ban for attack on Joe Root because we don't have enough batsmen
Aussie Angle: I look at this team and I just don't know where the senior players are
Thursday 13 June 2013
Banning David Warner until the first Ashes Test is a fudge and it doesn't reflect well on the strength of Australia's squad in England.
The governing body probably should have banned him for the first Test as well, to make it clear that they will not put up with one of their players trying to land a punch on an opponent on a night out.
I think the reason Cricket Australia didn't go further is they feel the need to cover their backs because they know they haven't got enough batsmen. With the punishment they have gone for, if one of the guys gets injured, breaks a finger before that first game, then they can bring Warner back in. If they had suspended him, they wouldn't be able to do that.
I've never seen a player whack someone in a bar. Warner can sort his situation out, I'm sure of it. After all, Ricky Ponting got hit by a bouncer in King's Cross, Sydney, in 1999 and he turned things around beautifully.
Yet I heard that Warner went out the next night and had a few more beers, which is ridiculous. And, almost as bad, Mitchell Marsh, who's an outstanding talent, was under probation about his drinking and he was part of that group. Let me tell you, nothing good happens after 12 o'clock.
It's still possible to argue, however, that Warner's punishment is a bit stiff in some ways. This is only his second year on the road with what I call "the big show", and he's been away from home for four months.
That should not be an excuse but I've heard that he invited three mates over to keep him company and you have to wonder why he wouldn't be hanging out with his 14 or 15 team-mates like you're supposed to.
He's only now learning about life on the road and he hasn't had any time to reflect on his life and his relatively recent fame. These days the players don't have time to sit back and chill out and I feel for these guys in that way.
How you work out what punishment fits the crime, or will have the effect it needs to have, is not easy. David Boon infamously drank 52 cans of beer on the flight over to England in 1989 and was fined A$5,000, and in those days we were only paid A$1,000 for the tour. He went on to score 500 runs, was the leading run-scorer – and, incidentally, his beer-drinking record is still intact too, I believe. That was a big incident back then, but things are different now.
What remains the same is that in Australian sport we always rely on a core group of senior players who are there to look after the culture and the standards. I look at this team and I just don't know where those senior players are, apart from Michael Clarke.
We've got no one else and our guys are looking at each other and thinking, "What do we do now?" Shane Watson is a senior player but he goes to his room and keeps himself to himself, he's got his own physio and all that.
Warner was being spoken of as captaincy material and I know that he talked to Mark Taylor 18 months ago about leadership skills, but I haven't seen much evidence of those so far.
David needs to get back on the straight and narrow. He doesn't deserve to be in that senior group because he hasn't earned it.
A lot of people in Australia took umbrage with David Gower about what he said about our lack of culture, but I've got to say that Warner's provided all the ammunition anyone needs for more of that now.
What Gower showed no understanding of is the fact that our culture is about "mateship", about fighting for your friends. We've survived through wars because of that, it's the Anzac spirit if you like. This team needs to thrive on that, and be prepared to die for each other. The senior players need to use that as their mantra.
Clarke is a brilliant captain but how can he bring this team around on his own? It's going to have to be like Allan Border in the late Eighties, he's going to have to lead by example on the field – but that's not all.
Because he doesn't have that core group of senior players that elite teams need, he has to try to understand every person in the squad inside out.
Border did that – he found out what made people tick. When I made my double-hundred in Madras in '86, it was only my third Test match and I was suffering really badly from dehydration and exhaustion, and I told him at one stage that I didn't want to go back out there. I'm a proud Victorian and he pulled on that string, told me he'd send a Queenslander out there instead, and that was enough for me to stay in there.
We're all different, I used to love stats when I was batting, but Mark Waugh didn't, he liked the contest. So you've got to find out about your players' personalities and manage them to the advantage of the team and it clearly isn't easy.
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