The cricketing world awoke on Wednesday to the news that Australia’s dynamic opening batsman David Warner was once again facing disciplinary action for allegedly punching England’s Joe Root on a night out in Birmingham after the Aussies defeat to England on Saturday.
Australia’s day ended with equally bad news as their crucial Champions Trophy group game against New Zealand was ended early by rain. The Australians had their Antipodean cousins in trouble after making an excellent start defending their modest total of 243 but eventually had to settle for a share of the spoils when the elements intervened at Edgbaston.
The washout will be a great disappointment to the Australians, who now need to defeat Sri Lanka in their final game and hope that other results go their way in order to progress.
They picked up their first point of the campaign but could be out of the competition before they even begin their game against Sri Lanka if England and New Zealand win a game more each.
They will also have been desperate to have the world talking about their cricket again after their list of off-field controversies was lengthened by Warner’s latest indiscretion.
After the Warner incident had come to light, things did not get much better for Australia at the start of the game as they lost two wickets in the opening 19 balls. Shane Watson edged to Luke Ronchi and Phil Hughes’ poor form continued as he was run out by Martin Guptill without scoring.
Australia’s batting fared rather better after their inauspicious start, with George Bailey’s patience and Adam Voges’ application to the fore. The pair shared an excellent 77 in 16 overs. Useful knocks towards the end of the innings from Mitchell Marsh and Warner’s replacement Glenn Maxwell nudged Australia up to a respectable 243-8.
This total still seemed a little under par and this was largely due to excellent bowling from Mitchell McClenaghan, who picked up four wickets, and Daniel Vettori, who gave away just 23 runs in 10 overs despite a tight achilles. The New Zealand attack as a unit were immensely disciplined and advanced their burgeoning reputation.
Despite the Australian total’s modest look, 243 had been overhauled only 3 times in 20 previous ODIs at Edgbaston so was certainly defendable.
This defence had begun very well under the floodlights as the in form Guptill was caught by Maxwell at point off the bowling of Clint McKay in the fourth over and Ronchi followed shortly after off the same bowler.
However, as it became ever gloomier the players went off for rain with New Zealand 51-2, with the game eventually called off after a pitch inspection at 1815.
Very little of the day’s talk focused on the match, however, as Warner’s latest slip-up caught the headlines. A marked man since launching a twitter tirade against Australian journalists last month, Warner did himself no favours in Birmingham’s Broad Street Walkabout by allegedly punching England’s man of the moment Joe Root. Warner is said to have apologised on Sunday.
Many former professionals from all over the world have weighed in on the issue, with former England captain Michael Vaughan claiming that Warner had ‘tarnished’ the Australian team and claimed that the opener had ‘a screw loose’. BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew questioned why professional cricketers were in a bar in the early hours of the morning in the middle of a tournament, while former Australian fast bowler and Root’s coach at Yorkshire simply described Warner’s behaviour as ‘unacceptable’
After homework-gate, Michael Clarke’s back injury and the team’s poor form, this incident was the last thing that the Australian management needed following a difficult few months on and off the field. Warner’s place in the Ashes squad is now coming under scrutiny with his fate set to be decided in the coming days.
All of this made for a pretty chastening day for Warner himself, who took up 12th man duties against the Kiwis, trudging on and off the field bringing drinks to his team-mates.
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