Shane Warne’s status as Australian cricket’s premier showman won’t be devalued despite his ban and fine for a physical clash with Marlon Samuels in a domestic ‘Big Bash’ Twenty20 match.
Cricket Australia’s chief executive has virtually written off Sunday’s incident – which involved Warne tugging at Samuels’ shirt and using obscene language and the West Indian all-rounder hurling his bat – as a heat-of-the-moment flare-up that is likely to generate more interest in the Big Bash League.
Warne was suspended for one match and fined $4,500 after being found guilty of three of the four misconduct charges arising from the confrontation during the Melbourne derby between the Stars and Renegades, attended by a record crowd for domestic cricket.
Warne complained about the severity of the sanction following a hearing yesterday but didn’t appeal the ban, which rules him out of Melbourne Stars’ must-win match against Sydney Thunder on Tuesday.
The 43-year-old legspinner, captain of the Stars, was found guilty of making “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with Samuels, and of using obscene or offensive language and dissent at an umpire’s decision. Renegades all-rounder Samuels is facing charges of “unbecoming behaviour” for throwing his bat and making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact.
Warne was cleared of deliberately throwing the ball at Samuels in an inappropriate or dangerous manner. “I’m very conscious of the image of the game,” Warne said. “I’m disappointed in some of my actions last night. Also I’m pretty disappointed with the severity of the penalties too. That was pretty harsh.”
Warne used social media to announce he wouldn’t appeal the ban, saying he hoped the Stars could win without him and qualify for the semi-finals. “Sport can be emotional and at times very passionate too,” he tweeted. “Yes, I went a bit too far with my emotions and passion, but was standing up for my team-mate and trying to get us back in the game.”
The Renegades sealed a home semi-final in the Big Bash with the lopsided win in front of 46,681 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but the match was overshadowed by the running battle between Warne and Samuels. CA chief executive James Sutherland said he took a dim view of the breaches, and didn’t condone the behaviour, but wasn’t entirely scathing of the players and added that “it’s a sign of where the Big Bash League is at. To be honest, it looked like two teams playing in front of a very big crowd in a highly-charged environment, with a lot of stake,” he told reporters in Melbourne. “These sort of things are isolated incidents.”
Sutherland agreed the players had obligations as role models to young fans, particularly with large TV audiences following the league, but he backed the sanctions imposed by the league’s code of conduct commissioner.
Sutherland said Warne’s standing in the game wouldn’t be hurt by the latest episode. “The job that Shane has done in the Big Bash League in the last two seasons has been phenomenal,” Sutherland said. “He’s a great promoter of the game. This doesn’t chequer his career or his future as a player.”
Warne, who retired from international cricket in 2007 but has continued to play in the T20 format in India and Australia, swore at Samuels, then tugged at Samuels’ shirt at the end of an over during the Renegades’ run chase. He was belatedly responding to an incident in the Stars’ innings, in which Samuels was accused of holding back David Hussey as he attempted a run.
After the tugging episode, Warne was fielding when he hit Samuels with an underarm throw and the West Indies all-rounder responded by hurling his bat down the pitch. Samuels later top-edged a Lasith Malinga short ball into his helmet and face and had to leave the field with blood pouring from his head.