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The ticking time bomb

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Warner has increasingly become an isolated figure in an Australian team now shattered by shame

CONTROVERSIAL: Former Australian cricket vice-captain David Warner has always been a controversial figure in the team. Picture: Reuters

Australian cricket is still picking up the pieces, but it appears increasingly as if those fragments are the result of a ticking time bomb by the name of David Warner.

We caught a glimpse of the raging torrent that is Warner, courtesy of the CCTV footage from Durban, in an incident that now seems many moons ago. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that the lunge at Quinton de Kock could be trumped for controversy, but this ongoing series has continually found a way to make the front pages as well as the back. Now, Warner and his mates have found a way to put it front and centre, thanks to a ball-tampering shame that will result in cricketing casualties.

Already, the combative Warner is an isolated figure in a team shattered by the collective shame brought upon by a woefully misguided plan.

Already, the finger of blame is being directed towards Warner, a central figure to almost every indecorous act we have witnessed over the first three Test matches.

Though the opening batsman was vice-captain by rank, those near to the team reckoned he was the most forthright when it came to a lot of the decisions within the Australian dressing-room.

In many ways, Warner’s role in the team dynamics was the same as that on the field; get the retaliation in first, fire the first salvo. Don’t go quietly into the night. As things stand, there is no danger Warner and his teammates will go quietly into the next chapter of their careers.

Warner has attracted negative attention for much of his career, thanks to his outspoken nature. He cannot help himself, seemingly thriving off the feisty effects of a bit of needle in the middle. He has had verbal jousts across the world, and international rivals have long realised the short man has an even shorter fuse.

His screaming and hollering towards Aiden Markram lit the torch-paper in the South African change-room, as they saw his action as rabble-rousing. By the time De Kock responded to a session of verbal abuse with his own personal riposte up the stairs, the respect between the teams had evaporated into the Durban breeze. That Sunday at Kingsmead has set the tone for the rest of the series, and culminated in an inglorious Saturday at Newlands for the visitors.

It is not stretching the imagination to suggest that Warner – the regular ball-shiner – suddenly being stationed on the boundary on that fateful afternoon at Newlands, complete with a team official as “security”, was a ploy to perhaps take the focus away from what Cameron Bancroft was naively attempting to cook up closer to the action.

Warner’s run-in with a spectator had already attracted attention, so why not create the diversion by putting him in supposed harm’s way, and let the cameras zoom in on the “disgraceful” crowd that Australian coach Darren Lehmann had bemoaned the night before.

It was very nearly a cunning ruse, until Bancroft dithered and tried to hide the evidence when he realised the spotlight was still fixed on him. Since then, the cracks have started to show on Australia’s team culture like a day five pitch in Mumbai.

Warner has apparently left the team WhatsApp group, and guzzled champagne with mates, all while the storm rages at home and around him. He is a law unto himself, the sort of sneering star whose accomplishments are often overshadowed by the drama he inevitably attracts.

Given what they know now, you wonder just how many of his teammates would still have saved him from getting at De Kock back in Durban. A ban back then would have been a molehill, compared to the mountain of shame that they face now.