PORT ELIZABETH – David Warner says he will continue to “live and die by the sword” despite coming desperately close to being suspended for the second Test against South Africa here at St George’s Park on Friday.
Warner escaped suspension by one demerit point after the ICC slapped the Australian vice-captain with three demerit points and a hefty 75% match fee fine for his role in the fracas on the stairwell during the tea break on the fourth day of the first Test in Kingsmead last Sunday.
CCTV footage clearly shows Warner being restrained by his teammates in a verbal tussle with South African wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock.
“I play with aggression on the field and I try not to cross that line and it has been in the past that I have sort of been fiery,” Warner told the Australian media on Wednesday evening.
“But I don't think whatsoever there on the field that I have ever crossed that line. That's how I play my cricket; I live by the sword and die by the sword.
“I'll keep playing with that energy and making sure I am the voice in the team to keep our guys motivated on the field, that's for sure.”
Although having a chequered disciplinary history, Warner is adamant that his outburst was the result of personal provocation from De Kock.
“I cop it left, right and centre, especially off the field from spectators and I'm used to that and it doesn't bother me,” Warner said.
“But in a proximity of my personal space and from behind me, a comment that was vile and disgusting about my wife, and in general about a lady, was quite poor I felt.
“My emotional response was just something that I don't believe should have been said and I'll always stick up for my family and in that case my teammates as well.”
The video scenes depicting Warner’s tirade suggest that the opener was close to coming to blows with De Kock had his Australian’s teammates not held him back. Warner claims it was never going to get physical, but instead wanted De Kock to “look me in the eye”
“I would have liked him to actually say the comment a little bit louder instead of just muttering it under his breath next to me and Tim Paine and then walking up the stairs and saying 'I didn't say anything' as soon as the rest of his team came out,” Warner said.
“At the end of the day, we're all men and if you're going to say something you look at someone in the eye and say it.”
Warner also denied that he had said anything about De Kock’s sister – as suggested by the South African team management.
“No, I did not say that,” he said.
Although South Africa’s coach Ottis Gibson has said that he wants “everyone to calm down and get back to cricket”, it is expected the second Test will be a fiery one after the Durban episode.
Warner doesn’t believe, though, matters will degenerate in the manner it did at Kingsmead.
“I'd find it quite poor if similar comments were said,” he said. “I'd take an appropriate stance and make sure that matters are taken off field away and spoken about in a quiet room, and make sure we can deal with it that way.
“But I can't see anyone else making comments the way that he made them, which were outright disgusting. As I said, it's a thing you wouldn't say about any lady, especially someone's wife or a player's wife.
“I've accepted that the way it was played out was regrettable, I've stated that, and hopefully in the future if I'm going to respond emotionally, I would try to do it in a more appropriate manner and walk upstairs.”