The Ashes: Dopey cameo from David Warner inspires Roses rivalry truce


Old Trafford

Hats off to David Warner. How many other cricketers could inspire an Old Trafford crowd to feel protective towards a Yorkshireman?

The Roses rivalry is one of the most enduring in sport, yet Warner's emergence from the pavilion shortly after midday caused the Lancastrian supporters to dispense with parochialism and boo Warner with every last breath of air in their lungs.

The Yorkshireman in question was Joe Root, upon whom Warner attempted to demonstrate his boxing skills – always a wise idea in the early hours of a Sunday morning – in a Birmingham bar on 9 June.

Warner, we were told, inflicted only a glancing blow to the jaw of Our Brave Joe. He was banned by Cricket Australia heavyweights for his trouble, missed the first two Tests and was restored for this one on the strength of an innings of 193 for Australia A, against their South African counterparts last week.

In the meantime, Root has been promoted to open the innings and scored 180 at Lord's last week, for which he collected the man-of-the-match award, to help England take a 2-0 lead in the Ashes with three to play.

You might think that Root had rolled with the punches rather better than Warner and that the latter deserved sympathy; the majority of those at Old Trafford did not share that opinion. As Warner strapped on his gloves, those of the England supporters were definitely off. When Steve Smith's departure brought Warner to the middle, the noise that accompanied him stung the eardrums.

"It's not the first time I've heard a player booed and I'm sure it won't be the last," his captain, Michael Clarke said. "I've been booed in my own country I know what it feels like. You've got a job to do, you're pretty focused… I can guarantee it wouldn't have affected him. He won't take a step back. That's why he's a big part of our team. Once he walks back he's extremely respectful."

England's Graeme Swan added: "You heard the atmosphere from crowd. He has stepped into that role of pantomime villain that Ricky Ponting left behind. David Warner is now the man for his earlier antics on tour, but nothing was said to him out in the middle."

It all began so well for Warner. The first ball was clipped off his hips for a single, and with Swann bowling from the Pavilion End, Warner drove through the off-side for four. When the bell rang to signal the end of Round One, Warner was clearly ahead on points.

What would happen in Round Two? Would Warner carry on swinging or opt for the rope-a-dope strategy? What he did next was certainly dopey. Swann tempted Warner to push forward, found the edge and the ball looped off Matt Prior to Jonathan Trott at slip.

When you're in a hole, stop digging. Warner decided to ignore this advice and take up a giant spade. Even though he had clearly edged the ball, Warner called for the review, leaving Clarke, with a perplexed look on his face. Clarke was not the only one.

In Warner's defence, his bat struck his pad at precisely the same moment as the ball took the edge, so it is just possible he was confused by the speed of events. The replays on the giant screens only gave the spectators more reasons for mirth, and as he left the field to more jeers, Warner might have been grateful that his dismissal came in the more sober morning session.

Warner is down, then, but not out. If Australia can somehow bowl out England today and enforce the follow on, what a tale it would be if Warner could land the decisive blow that brought them back into this series.

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