BRISBANE, (Reuters) – England captain Alastair Cook branded Australian batsman David Warner “disrespectful” yesterday after a tempestuous final couple of days in the first Ashes test at the Gabba.
Australia won the contest by 381 runs to take a 1-0 series lead after a day punctuated by chatter and finger-pointing between the two sides in the middle.
But it was Warner’s comments in the press conference on Saturday, that under-pressure England’s batsman Jonathan Trott’s dismissal had been “weak”, that attracted Cook’s ire.
“I think for any professional cricketer, really, yeah,” he said when asked if the comment was disrespectful.
“On the pitch it’s pretty much a war, isn’t it anyway? So there’s always going to be a few words on the pitch.
“I think that’s the way people want to watch cricket being played. Tough, hard cricket. On the pitch is fine.”
Cook said he thought the testiness between the two teams was the result of playing back-to-back Ashes series this year, a measure taken to take the Australia hosted series out of its place in the calendar next to the limited overs World Cup.
“I think when you play each other for quite a few games in a row, the niggles can increase,” he said.
“It’s competitive cricket.”
Cook’s Australian counterpart Michael Clarke said he thought the sledging came about because both teams wanted to win so badly but that it was not a sign of a lack of respect.
“I think we all respect the game, the traditions the history. Australia versus England has always been competitive no matter which team has won.
“I certainly understand and respect that there’s a line and both teams shouldn’t over-step that line and I hope that hasn’t been the case through this test match but I think the rivalry and the banter on the field, it’s give-and-take both ways,” Clarke said.
“There is not one English player that anyone has a personal vendetta with or anyone disrespect as a cricketer.
“I think I’ve heard a lot worse said on a cricket field than what any of the Australian players or the England players have said throughout this test match.”
Clarke said if there had been a problem with Warner’s comments, which also included the observation that there was fear in Trott’s eyes when faced with the short ball delivered at pace, they would be dealt with by the ICC.
Australia pace bowler Mitchell Johnson, who dismissed him in both innings, said he thought there maybe was a little fear in Trott’s eyes when he ratcheted up the pace.
“There were a couple of nice ones that were zinging past his nose,” said Johnson, who was named Man of the Match after taking nine wickets including 5-42 in the second innings.
“As a fast bowler you give a bit of a stare and have a look into the eyes and … I don’t know, there might have been a little bit of fear there, maybe. I don’t know, you’d have to ask him that.
“I’ll keep doing it. It’s working.”
Cook conceded that Trott had been struggling against the short ball but backed him to recover the form that made him one of the world’s best top order batsmen.
“He’s had a tough game, he knows that,” Cook said.
“You have to remember that the guy’s class though. He’s had a little blip now in these couple of games but he’s a class player and class players bounce back.
“I know he’s been working incredibly hard at the short ball, he’s been trying to work on it in the net sessions, I just think it’s a matter of him trying to take that into the middle.
“Suddenly, when the pressure and emotion of the game is on there. It’s sometimes tough to think as clearly as you need.”