2:02 AM ET
Daniel BrettigAssistant editor, ESPNcricinfo
- Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel’s chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth – a rare Australian victory that summer.
Australia’s captain Tim Paine has declared Ben Stokes‘ revelations about using David Warner‘s words as motivation to score his epic Headingley century is the latest in a trend of using the opener’s name to “spike book sales”.
Warner has made a significant change to his behaviour on the field since his return from the Newlands scandal ban, not resorting to the kinds of abuse he subjected other players to at regular points over his international career.
His overall visage has remained talkative however, something that Stokes claimed to have raised his ire during the Headingley innings that bloomed from an initial rearguard into an unforgettable, match-winning century that delayed Australia’s retention fo the Ashes until the fourth Test of the series at Old Trafford. Paine, who as wicketkeeper stood alongside Warner throughout, said there was nothing abusive in the opener’s words, even if they were frequent.
“I was obviously standing next to David the whole time and you are allowed to talk on the cricket field,” Paine said when asked whether the Stokes allegations were a “cheap shot”. “But by no means was he abusing him or sledging him. It just seems to be a common trend in England that they like to use Davey’s name to spike book sales. So good luck to them.”
Stokes wrote that he was spurred on by Warner in particular, stating that he would have been happy to accept similar words from “just about any other opponent” other than him. “I had extra personal motivation due to some things that were said to me out on the field on the evening of day three when I was trying to get through to stumps,” Stokes wrote. “A few of the Aussies were being quite chirpy, but in particular David Warner seemed to have his heart set on disrupting me.
“He just wouldn’t shut up for most of my time out there. I could accept it from just about any other opponent. Truly. Not from him, though. The changed man he was adamant he’d become, the one that hardly said boo to a goose and even went as far as claiming he had been re-nicknamed ‘Humble’ by his Australia teammates, had disappeared. Maybe his lack of form in his new guise had persuaded him that he needed to get the bull back?
“Although he’d enjoyed a prolific World Cup campaign, he had struggled with the bat at the start of the Ashes and was perhaps turning to his old ways to try to get the best out of himself,” Stokes wrote. “The nice-guy act had done nothing for his runs column. I muttered ‘Bloody Warner’ a few times as I was getting changed. The more time passed, the more it spurred me on. All kinds of ideas of what I might say to him at the end of the game went through my head. In the end, I vowed to do nothing other than shake his hand and say ‘Well done’ if I could manufacture the situation.
“You always shake the hands of every member of the opposing team at the end of a match. But this one would give me the greatest sense of satisfaction.”
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Paine, however, pointed out the abuse that Warner had to face throughout the England tour from spectators, as well as a few choice words here and there from England’s players, without ever retaliating in a way that would have brought disrepute to the game.
“I was standing right next to him, I had absolutely no issue,” Paine said. “The way David handled himself during the Ashes was excellent. Particularly given the fact he wasn’t scoring a hell of a lot of runs and I’m pretty sure he was on the end of a fair bit himself on and off the field in England. So I thought he did a great job of handling that and held himself really well throughout the series. They write books to sell and they have to get headlines to get sales.
“We’re going to concentrate on what we do and maintain our own standards. What Ben and England want to do is completely up to them.”
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