Finally, Cricket Australia calls time on ‘attack dog’ David Warner’s brand of bullying

Australian cricketer David Warner listens to a question at a press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on March 31, 2018, after returning from South Africa. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2018

Finally, Cricket Australia calls time on ‘attack dog’ David Warner’s brand of bullying

LONDON: James Sutherland, Cricket Australia’s boss, did not mince words when asked about David Warner.
“He is making some pretty ordinary decisions and getting himself into trouble, and he is bringing the game, his teammates and the team down. That is not going to be tolerated any longer,” Sutherland said.
Those words were not spoken after the ball-tampering episode in Cape Town. They were said after Warner threw a punch at Joe Root in Birmingham almost five years ago. But if the expectation was that Cricket Australia would rein in Warner, we were badly mistaken.
“You try to get into a battle as quick as you can,” said Warner in the build-up to last year’s Ashes. “I try to look in the opposition’s eye and work out how can I dislike this player, how can I get on top of him? You have to find that spark in yourself to really take it to the opposition. You have to delve and dig deep into yourself to get some sort of hatred about them.”
He retracted those words later, but the national board chose the nudge-nudge-wink-wink approach to the toxic sentiments expressed by the vice-captain. And as Australia romped through the Ashes 4-0, there was absolutely no rebuke for the Warner brand of bullying on the field.
Now, Warner is the one most expendable, the one Cricket Australia have hung out to dry as the main conspirator in what has come to be called SandpaperGate. Steve Smith can look forward to Redemption Road. For Warner, there is nothing. The announcement that he would never be considered for captaincy again was especially telling.
The silences and deflected answers in the Warner press conference were even more revealing, especially when he was asked if others were involved in the plot and if it was the first time Australia had done such a thing on the field.
If those advising Warner, legally and otherwise, decide that he has no international future — and the tune Cricket Australia has been humming suggests as much — they could well ask him to come clean in an exclusive media appearance. If he did, what he had to say could cause huge embarrassment to his former teammates and board officials.
Sutherland has banged on about the “spirit of cricket” in recent days. Those words were dropped from Cricket Australia’s strategic plan in 2017. As Gideon Haigh wrote in The Australian: “At times over the years, CA has given the appearance of caring little about the sport’s image, except as a brand or product. One was reminded this last week of the conference five years ago where CA’s commercial chief, Ben Amarfio, argued that controversy in sport was not a problem — it could even be advantageous.”
Now Warner, who in addition to his “ball maintenance” duties was also the team’s attack dog, is the one they are trying to put down.
“I know there are unanswered questions,” tweeted Warner after his tear-filled media conference. “In time, I will do my best to answer them all.”
For half a decade, Warner set the tone for Australia with both his bat and caustic tongue. He is unlikely to go quietly now.

Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019

Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.