Not even through gritted teeth could Australia opener David Warner bring himself to support England in the final Test against India in Ahmedabad – even though he would miss out on a cricket showpiece if the old enemy fail to win.
Warner’s flat refusal to give his backing to the Poms was in sharp contrast to that of Australia coach Andrew McDonald, who said that he would be in the “strange position” of backing England to ensure Australia took India’s place in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
McDonald, who is coaching the Australia T20 squad in New Zealand, told reporters: “A bit of self-interest isn’t it, for us to follow England for the first time in a long time. We’ll be hoping they can do the job there. We wish England well, see what unfolds. It’s out of our hands.”
But Warner was having none of it. The bellicose left-hander, known for well-publicised run-ins with Jonny Bairstow and England captain Joe Root in the heat of battle and out of it, and for referring to Ashes battles as “war”, said: “No, I won’t be barracking for England. It’d be ideal for us to make the World Test Championship final – if that happens, it’s a great result for us.”
It was Warner whose comments caught on the stump mic created a ruckus during England’s last Ashes tour. He accused Bairstow of having headbutted “one of our mates”, referring to an incident in a Perth pub in which Bairstow and Cameron Bancroft, the Australia opener, indulged in some horseplay.
On the 2013 Ashes tour to England, Warner was dropped after trying to punch Root after the latter snatched a green and gold wig off the head of a friend as both teams celebrated in a bar in Birmingham after a Champions Trophy encounter.
Warner and Bairstow have long since buried the hatchet – and not into each other’s heads – having formed an at times devastating partnership at the top of the Sunrisers Hyderabad order in the IPL.
But Warner found himself at the centre of more controversy recently when he criticised the fashion sense of Devon Conway, whose undefeated 99 helped New Zealand win the first of the three-match T20 series against Australia.
Warner, who is commentating on the series while in rehabilitation from a groin injury, criticised the Kiwi match-winner for wearing his shirt outside his trousers.
Warner said: “Yeh, I’m not a fan of that at all. I don’t care if it’s a Twenty20, you can’t do that.”
Who knew Warner was such a stickler for tradition? As a number of people took to social media to remind him, he was at the centre of the Sandpapergate ball-tampering scandal in South Africa that brought suspensions for him, Steve Smith and Bancroft.