New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has said that David Warner “is not a bad person” and has been in contact with the Australian opener during the fallout to the ball-tampering controversy in South Africa, which has resulted in Warner and Steven Smith banned for 12 months along with Cameron Bancroft for nine.
Warner, who was due to be an IPL team-mate of Williamson’s before having his deal cancelled by the BCCI in the wake of his ban, will also never again be considered for a leadership position within Australia cricket.
“We’ve spent a bit of time together in the IPL, played against and with each other. I’ve sent a few texts, that’s about it,” Williamson said. “He’s not a bad person by any means.”
“Through what’s eventuated in recent times, there’s been a lot of emotion and energy pointed at certain players which has gone to extreme lengths. It will blow over in time, but its grown and grown and like I say he’s not a bad guy.
“He’s made a mistake and certainly admitted that and they are disappointed with that action. They will have to take the strong punishment and move on. You always learn from tough lessons and I’m sure they’ll do that. But it is a shame that two fantastic, world-class players have made a mistake.”
Following the confirmation of the bans handed out by Cricket Australia, the coach Darren Lehmann spoke for the first time since the incident in Cape Town and admitted the team needed to change, citing New Zealand as an example of a side whose style on and off the field as worth emulating. Williamson agreed that New Zealand’s persona was very important to them, something instilled by Brendon McCullum when he was captain.
“He [McCullum] was huge in that respect. Setting an environment where we wanted to play the game a certain way and it was reflected in the way we went about our business on the field, but the work went in off the field as well,” Williamson said. “That’s really important and can be hard to judge because it’s not always tangible, but it is so important – the team environment and culture. The performances in some ways, while not secondary, are an effect of all the hard work that goes on.
“For us, it’s about how we want to play the game and that’s important to us. Its been a part of our environment for some time and we want to maintain that. We believe that suits us as people and we want to commit to that, play as hard as we can on the park, but at the end of the day, the game finishes and you are still people. That’s what we like to hang our hat on, but we certainly don’t point fingers. Everyone makes mistakes at times and you do need to learn from them and move on.”
England captain Joe Root believes the severity of the sanctions handed down to the Australian trio have sent out a signal to world cricket. When the ICC laid out their one-Test ban to Smith for the ball-tampering charge, the chief executive David Richardson said the game needed to take a hard look at how it was being portrayed.
“I think Cricket Australia has made a decision which is a bit of a statement to world cricket really,” Root said. “You see the amount of reaction it has got around the world. I think it just shows that everyone watching the game, and anyone who supports cricket, supports how they want to see the game played.
“In terms of the bans, that’s a decision Cricket Australia had to make – and that’s for them to decide. But the point is they’ve put a statement out there not just for Cricket Australia but for world cricket – and the reaction is all to do with how people want to watch cricket. I think it’s quite a strong message for everyone.”
The fallout to the controversy has continued with the first significant commercial impact for Cricket Australia being Test title sponsors Magellan ending their deal one year into a three-year contract.
“A conspiracy by the leadership of the Australian Men’s Test Cricket Team which broke the rules with a clear intention to gain an unfair advantage during the third test in South Africa goes to the heart of integrity,” Magellan CEO Hamish Douglass said in the statement. “These recent events are so inconsistent with our values that we are left with no option but to terminate our ongoing partnership with Cricket Australia.”
Warner has also lost a personal endorsement deal with electronics company LG. Kit manufacturer ASICS have also severed ties with the former Australian vice-captain and his opening partner Bancroft. “The decisions and actions taken by David Warner and Cameron Bancroft are not something that ASICS tolerates and are contrary to the values the company stands for.”