DURBAN – Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith has called Australian opener David Warner “a fool”, while Adam Gilchrist is concerned that if Warner’s teammates did not stop him “who knows what would have happened.”
Warner was the centre of controversy on Sunday during an intoxicating fourth day of the first Test between the Proteas and Australia at Kingsmead.
Not only did the Australian vice-captain lead a verbal tirade at South Africa’s young opening batsman Aiden Markram after he was involved in the run out of AB de Villiers for a duck, but there was further controversy when Warner had to be physically restrained by his Australian teammates as he clashed in a heated confrontation on a staircase with Proteas wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock at the tea break.
“The Aussies were pretty fired up at that time pushing for a victory,” Graeme told cricket.com.au in Durban. “We’ve got used to Davey over the years. I think the less interest you take in him the better. He can be a bit of a fool at times. It’s best just to let him be.”
Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Warner’s reaction on the staircase was due to alleged derogatory comments made about his wife, Candice, who is on tour with him in SA along with their daughters.
The video footage shows Warner being restrained by teammates Usman Khawaja, with Australia captain Steve Smith and wicket-keeper Tim Paine also attempting to calm him down before Steve drags him away.
Former Australian keeper Gilchrist, though, believed it was concerning that Warner’s bad-tempered habits have reared its head again.
“I think with Davey ... there is no one denying his capabilities with the bat in hand. It’s funny ... he came into cricket and had his natural aggression mindset both with bat in hand and in the field,” Gilchrist told radio station SEN. “He used to pride himself being the guy that got into the verbal stoushes and was a leader of the aggressive mindset.
“But he then went the other way and he was very, very outright in saying ‘I’ve put that away, that’s not me any more’.
“It was really extreme the opposite way, and now he’s come back again saying ‘old Davey’s back’ and all his teammates are saying ‘the Reverend’s gone, Bull’s back’.
“It’s always a worry in any situation when someone is so extreme on one direction or the other. I think Davey’s got to find somewhere in between that. He does pride himself in being a leader of the team, he did that very well in the T20s as captain but what we’ve seen in the last 24 hours probably isn’t the images that you want your captain projecting.”
Gilchrist also stated that Warner can be thankful for his teammates for stepping in when they did.
“If they were not there and he goes on the path that he was intending, who knows what would have happened,” Gilchrist said.
“Watching that, once the emotion and the aggression is taken away from it David has to be a little bit disappointed that he’s done that and allowed this whole discussion to start up.”