Warner incident was wrong - but it could help Australia

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
David Warner
David Warner

This might sound strange, but the allegations that David Warner launched an unprovoked attack on England's Joe Root could actually galvanise Australia ahead of the Ashes.

The Australia opener is being investigated over claims of an attack in the early hours of Sunday morning, leading to him being dropped from Wednesday's Champions Trophy match against New Zealand.

The other 15 players can now really get together and coach Mickey Arthur can say to his players "this is what happens if you step out of line because it is totally unacceptable".

Arthur can get up and ask them: "Do you want to come here and do something special, to win the Ashes against all the odds? Or do you simply want to be a laughing stock?"

I would expect a ferocious response from the players if they're asked that.

If Warner stays on the tour I would expect his presence to add to the banter quite frankly. He's the type of character who can rile the opposition anyway, and I would expect England to take full advantage of his presence in the middle.

Because, let's face it, the players won't need any excuse to fan the flames of anticipation and rivalry during the Ashes.

While this is an opportunity to over-hype things, it won't make any difference to cricket's most famous Test series though.

David Warner
Warner on drinks duty against New Zealand on Wednesday.

If Australia are not fully committed or preparing properly, they will be beaten by England, it's as simple as that. And the Australian public would be mortified, because the least they expect from their side is discipline, professionalism and dedication.

Warner's behaviour personifies a lack of discipline, a dropping of standards, that would never have happened in the days of Australia's former captain Steve Waugh. Waugh has the best win percentage of any Test captain, with 41 wins out of 57 matches, and led Australia to victory in the 1999 World Cup.

It is no coincidence that when teams are successful, as Waugh's so clearly was, every aspect, both on and off the field, is also successful. You didn't hear about Waugh's players being out late or getting involved in the kind of incident that Warner was.

Australia have lost a lot of their key players recently, which is why they need 100% from everyone on this tour.

They are already without their captain, Michael Clarke, who has been struggling with a lower back injury, so this is hardly what they need right now. When you're struggling on the field at the start of a tough tour, you simply don't want lapses that smack of unprofessionalism.

Former captain Ricky Ponting is playing for Surrey and has made a great start to life playing in England, but recalling him is unlikely. Ponting is still a fine player, but he's retired from international cricket now, and were Australia to recall him it would look desperate.

To be frank, the Warner incident is bizarre and should not really shouldn't be happening in this day and age.

Why was a player out at that time in the night in the middle of a major tournament? That is an issue that needs to be addressed by England as well, because Root, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes were also in that bar wearing silly wigs in the early hours of the morning.

The players might not have a game for a few days, but is that really sending out the right image as an international sportsman?

Saying all that, there can never be an excuse for an unprovoked assault, which is what this seems to have been.

Warner has clearly got a few problems and has 'form', as they say, as shown by a foul-mouthed rant against a journalist on Twitter last month, which led to him being fined by Cricket Australia.

We don't know what the punishment will be, but Cricket Australia have to deal with it strongly. After seeing how Arthur dealt with the four players dropped for failing to do their feedback or homework or whatever you want to call it, I think that's what will happen.

Let's be clear though that Warner is one of Australia's key men, a fine stroke player who can really get after a bowling attack and take the initiative away from the England bowlers.

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