Warnergate – A Reflection of the Aussie Psyche?

David Warner has been having a tough time of late and much of the blame can be apportioned to him as well. He has had a fracas on Twitter with respected cricket writers Robert Craddock and Malcolm Conn a few days ago and now comes this incident of punching England batsman Joe Root at a pub in Birmingham after losing the Champions Trophy encounter with the old foe! The problem with this situation is manifold. The first and most obvious for a general cricket lover is that Warner is letting his fiery temper take control of him much more than what he or anyone else would like to. Secondly, it is almost becoming a tradition with Aussie cricketers to come in the news for the wrong reasons.

Actually, speaking quite frankly, Warner is not the first Australian batsman to have been covered in the media for an unsavory incident and I have a feeling he will not be the last one either. In the last few years I have seen young Australian batsmen Luke Pomersbach, the Marsh brothers – Shaun and Mitchell – facing problems of varying kinds and degrees for their intoxicated indiscretions. Before that people like Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds have faced problems due to their drinking habits. The question I would like to ask is why in a supposedly first world country like Australia where every conceivable opportunity of improvement known to mankind is available at the drop of a hat would such a disturbing trend repeat itself?

I know quite a few people would be pointing fingers to the origins of the Aussies and the general competitive nature of people in that country. However, I think the root of this problem lies elsewhere. In the last couple of years, the Aussies have gone from the undisputed world leaders of the global game to a mid-level team like the 1980s where they were just a competitive unit at best. They realize very clearly that in the upcoming Ashes there is a good chance they will be swamped and there is very little they can do to stem the rot and this realization is perhaps driving them, or at least some of them, to desperation.

Aussies have never really been good losers – this has been evident over the years like with the 2003 Antigua test with the West Indies where the spat between McGrath and Sarwan generated more headlines than the awe-inspiring victory achieved by the hosts. More than that, their recent form has not really been outstanding – they were recently defeated by the Lankans in a home ODI series and by West Indies in a T20 match. After that, India avenged its 4-0 loss down under in 2012 with a similar result at home. So things have not really been going their way and this has made an indelible impact on their mindset perhaps taking away their confidence in their abilities. To quote Austin Powers, they have lost their mojo!

I also feel that the homework incident played a major part in denting the team’s psyche. The whole affair could have been better managed and the media could have been kept out but the team management thought otherwise. The team, I think, needs to believe in itself with a lot more conviction and just keep their heads while they are it. The selectors should also look to get as many experienced players in the team instead of having young hotheads just because of their talent. Strangely enough Aussie selectors have started to think like Indian selectors – it’s time they went back to thinking the Aussie way!