MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Footage of David Warner being restrained by team mates in an off-field fracas with South Africa’s Quinton de Kock has been viewed dimly in Australia, where former players have urged the vice-captain to rein in the raging ‘Bull’.
The opening batsman could face an ICC sanction for his part in the ugly stairwell incident at Kingsmead on Sunday which shattered cricket’s unofficial rule of ‘what happens on the field, stays on the field.’
His captain Steve Smith suggested De Kock had enraged the hot-headed lefthander by getting personal in his sledging, the nature of which focused on Warner’s wife, according to local media reports.
The South African camp retorted that whatever was said was payback for Warner’s own aggressive sledging of De Kock and other Proteas players out on the field.
Warner was nicknamed ‘Bull’ early in his career, a moniker that fittingly captured his rampaging batting and tendency to rack up violations for ill-tempered episodes during play.
But his 2015 marriage to ironwoman athlete Candice and fatherhood seemed to mellow Warner to the point that his team mates re-branded him ‘the Reverend’ for his quieter demeanour.
Warner shed his ‘Reverend’ persona prior to the recent Ashes series, however, as he called on team mates to summon “hatred” for the visiting English.
If there is a comfortable middle ground between the ‘the Reverend’ and the ‘Bull’, Warner has yet to find it, noted former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
“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,” Gilchrist told local radio.
“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.
“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.”
Warner was involved in another unsightly incident on the field during the opening test in Durban, when he unleashed a withering verbal spray at Aiden Markram after the rookie opening batsman was culpable in running out AB de Villiers in the South Africa’s second innings.
Warner shook hands with De Kock after Australia quickly closed out their 118-run victory on Monday, to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
It was described by Australian media as a moment of reconciliation between the teams but Warner can expect little relief from the niggle by Proteas players for the rest of the series, according to former test all-rounder Brad Hogg.
“They’ll be trying to nag him in the next three test matches about his wife now,” Hogg told local broadcaster Fox Sports.
“To be frank, South Africa have found a little sweet spot with David Warner.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury