David Warner-Joe Root altercation: The Australian batsman had punched his English counterpart during the wee hours in a Birmingham bar.
The first half of 2013 wasn’t the best phase of Australia batsman David Warner’s international career. From showing dissent to on-field umpire’s decision to participating in a Twitter spat with two Australian journalists to not scoring enough runs, Warner was ticking all the wrong boxes.
Opening the batting in Australia’s tournament opener in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 at Edgbaston, Warner scored 9 (21) in a 270-run chase as the hosts won the match by 48 runs.
It was after the match that players of both the teams had paid a visit to the Walkabout Bar in Birmingham. It was during the wee hours that Warner signed up for yet another controversy in international cricket when he punched England batsman Joe Root inside the pub.
The matter didn’t catch fire primarily due to both Australian and English player interfering in addition to no retaliation from Root. However, it was enough for Warner to earn a suspension.
The next morning saw Cricket Australia suspending Warner from Australia’s next match against New Zealand at the same venue due to “an unprovoked physical attack” on Root.
Reports soon followed regarding the altercation getting initiated by Warner who thought that Root was impersonating South Africa batsman Hashim Amla while wearing a false beard. It is worth mentioning that the English camp spoke in Root’s favour saying that he was making fun of himself and referring to taunts from his team-mates that he was too young to grow facial hair.
David Warner-Joe Root altercation
Despite Warner’s “unbecoming behaviour”, Cricket Australia decided against sending the southpaw home home from the tour. However, Warner was fined A$11,500 apart from the suspension which he received.
“Following a statement issued this morning by Cricket Australia, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirms that David Warner initiated an unprovoked physical attack on a member of the England team in a Birmingham bar following England’s 48-run victory over Australia.
“[David] Warner has admitted behaving inappropriately and has since apologised to the player involved who has accepted the apology. Following a full investigation the England team management has concluded that the England player was in no way responsible for nor retaliated to the attack. ECB has concluded that this is a matter for Cricket Australia and have no further comment to make,” the ECB (England Cricket Board) said in a statement.
John Creighton, manager of the Walkabout bar, explained the situation in detail to the reporters. Laying emphasis on players having a “good time”, he clearly mentioned none of them was drunk to an excess.
“David Warner and Joe Root were in our VIP area between 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM on Sunday morning along with several other England and Australia team members. None of the group seemed to have been drinking to excess and just seemed to be having a good time. There was a small altercation between Warner and Root.
“This was dealt with very amicably and quickly by the rest of the group and both were calmly chatting to each other shortly afterwards. They all left a short while later and a small bar tab was picked up by David Warner. We are quite familiar with David’s face,” Creighton had said in a statement.
David Warner issues apology
After listening to the sanction given by Cricket Australia, Warner issues a public apology where he touched upon taking responsibility for his actions, accepting the punishment, apologizing personally to Root and not having a drinking problem.
“I’m here today to apologise publicly and put my hand up and say I am responsible for my actions. I am extremely remorseful. I have let my team-mates down, the support staff, myself and my family.
“I have accepted the punishment. It is up to me to do everything I can to help the team to progress in the Champions Trophy, and move on to have a great preparation for the Ashes.
“I definitely remember the night. It started out with a few drinks in the bar and as a team we went to the Walkabout. I made a mistake and I put my hand up. I have exchanged text messages with Joe. He accepted my apology, which I am thoroughly grateful for.
“I don’t think I have a drink problem at all. I’ve got to make the right decisions at the right time. That night wasn’t a good time to go out and have a beer. We’d lost the game, and even though we’d had a day off we’d still lost. We don’t have curfews, but looking back I shouldn’t have been in that situation,” Warner was quoted as saying.
What happened next?
Warner, then 26, subsequently missed Australia’s third (and last) match against Sri Lanka and was also suspended from taking part in the two warm-up matches ahead of the Ashes 2013. Not allowed to take play a competitive match in England had a direct impact on Warner’s participation in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.
Soon enough, Warner boarded the plane to South Africa to represent Australia A on their tour to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
After being put in to bat in the first unofficial Test by the then South Africa A captain Justin Ontong, Warner came out to bat at No. 4 as he scored an incredible 193 (226) with the help of 29 fours and a six in Pretoria.
With Australian batsmen not coping well in the seaming conditions of England, Warner was recalled into the Test squad as he replaced batsman Phillip Hughes in the third Test at Old Trafford. In the three Tests that Warner played in the series, he scored 138 runs at an average of 23 and a strike rate of 61.06 including a half-century.