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Thursday 13 June 2013
Once the dust, wig and tempers had settled in the Walkabout in Birmingham on Sunday at an hour when most cricketers are tucked up in bed, it was David Warner who settled the bill he and his team-mates had run up. As he was waiting to pay, Warner might just have wondered why he had not heeded his own words of wisdom.
It was on Christmas Eve last year, coming towards the end of his best-ever year as a cricketer, that Warner described what he had learnt about being an Australian player, wearing the baggy green and being an international sportsman – one of growing repute too, a man who was being considered by some as a potential captain of his country.
"It's about keeping a clear mind and trying to be as fresh as I can," he said ahead of a Test match with Sri Lanka. "I've had to watch little things like picking the right time to go out and enjoy yourself with your mates or have a beer with the guys. It's important, that stuff."
Warner is not the first Australian cricketer to get himself in a spot of bother over that stuff, not even the first captaincy contender. Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke each had their moments.
But it is not the first time Warner has found himself in trouble. It is another notch on the bed post, which raises the prospect of him following in the footsteps of Andrew Symonds and being sent home. Warner is familiar with rule six of Cricket Australia's code of conduct having broken it just three weeks previously after becoming embroiled in a Twitter spat with two Australian journalists, labelling one a "p****k" and saying they both "talked s**t".
There is more on the charge sheet. He had already been warned as to his conduct on Twitter following an exchange with a Tasmanian player a couple of years ago. On the field he was reprimanded for his reaction to being given out in a one-day international against Sri Lanka in January. Wind the clock right back and Warner was once suspended along with two others from the Australian cricket academy for "repeated inappropriate treatment of accommodation facilities", meaning he was messy.
There has always been something hit and miss about Warner, as Joe Root can testify. He had not played first-class cricket when he first played for Australia, in a Twenty20 match against South Africa in 2009. Nobody had done that since 1877. He pulled his second ball for four over mid-on, a shot that features in no batting manual ever written since 1877 and drew Babe Ruth rather than Don Bradman comparisons from the Australian media. He hit his first two balls from Dale Steyn, the world's fastest bowler, for six and completed that first international innings with 89 from 43 balls. Ponting compared him with Adam Gilchrist.
The 26-year-old, a man crying out for the nickname Biff, has only played 31 first-class matches and 19 of them have been Tests. He was first regarded as one of the new breed of cricketers, a Twenty20 specialist with even the 50-over game being too long for his baseball-style pyrotechnics. There is a lack of foot movement to his game as he swings from the hip and that has since been exposed against high-class spin – if he stays here, Graeme Swann will fancy his chances.
Warner always had ambitions to play the longest format but it took a net session in Delhi while on IPL duty for one of the pioneers of the biff and bash approach favoured by the young man from New South Wales to convince him how far he could go. Virender Sehwag liked what he saw and convinced Warner he was suited to Test cricket, pointing out, with wonderful simplicity, there are more fielders around the bat so more space in the outfield.
Greg Chappell played the final part in turning Warner into a Test player on an A tour to Zimbabwe two years ago, demanding that he batted longer in the nets. An eight-hour double-hundred against Zimbabwe was the result. In his second Test, in late 2011, he carried his bat for a century against New Zealand. In his fifth he made 180 in 159 balls on a flier of a Perth pitch against India. Last year he and Ed Cowan were the most prolific opening pair in Tests and Mickey Arthur, Australia's coach, started talking of him as a future leader.
"They've had a word to me about trying to be the senior person now and trying to set standards of our Australian way," said Warner then.
The bill that Warner settled on Sunday morning was described as a "small tab" by the bar's manager. Unfortunately for Warner what went before is likely to attract a heftier price tag. It is the cost of still doing things his way.
Wicked Warner: Aussie's crimesheet
3 Feb 2011 Playing for New South Wales, the batsman was reprimanded by Cricket Australia after a row with Tasmania bowler Brett Geeves on Twitter. Geeves took exception to Warner's aiming of a celebration for hitting a six at Geeves' team-mate Ben Hilfenhaus, with a war of words ensuing. The pair apologised to each other.
18 May 2013 Warner was fined £3,600 after calling journalist Robert Craddock a 'p***k who writes s**t', saying: 'Get a real job. All you do is bag people.' He also described another writer, Malcolm Conn, as an 'old f**t', and said: 'have a look at you, your a fool writing back thinking your talking to a wannabe cricketer'. His tweets were in response to a Craddock article on spot-fixing in the IPL.
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