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David Warner accuses England vice-captain Joe Root of racial insensitivity


25 Dec 2014
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Ashes 2015: David Warner accuses England vice-captain Joe Root of racial insensitivity

David Warner has risked the wrath of Joe Root and the England team by accusing the vice-captain of being racially insensitive in comments that are sure to raise tensions between the sides just four days before the start of the Ashes.

Warner has revealed he punched Root in his infamous assault at Birmingham's Walkabout Bar back in 2013 because he thought the England player was mocking the South African batsman Hashim Amla. The Australia opener has accused the England batsman of inadvertent racism by placing a wig on his chin - which he interpreted as an insult to Amla who sports a beard as a sign of his Muslim faith.

Warner has also claimed Steven Finn, the England fast bowler, was "asleep in the gutter" at the end of that night in June 2013.

While Warner has expressed regret and taken full responsibility for the incident in the past, this is the first time he has spoken in detail about what occurred hours after England's Champions Trophy victory against Australia at Edgbaston. The revelations are potentially embarrassing for Root, who was not England's vice-captain at the time, and Finn, who is in the squad for next week's first Test.

"We were in the bar in the hotel, a few of us, and we all decided to go next door and have a couple of drinks," Warner told The Sydney Morning Herald. The Australia players were led to a roped off area of the Walkabout, where there were also New Zealand players. An England contingent, including Root, Stuart Broad and Finn then approached.

"We had a place sectioned off for us and they decided to come in - it was probably one, 1.30 in the morning," said Warner. "They were obviously not part of our group. It was more me giving marching orders in a way."

Warner says there were "little things" that annoyed him that night before Root's positioning of the green-and-gold wig tipped him over the edge.

A mate of mine was actually wearing it on top of his head like a [Lasith] Malinga wig," he said. "That's what it was, and [Root] decided to come in and take it off my mate's head and start acting the way he did.

"When people are drunk that's what they do but I thought it was a bit inappropriate the way he went about that stuff so I went over and tried to take it off him.

"I just think in today's society you shouldn't be fooling around with that kind of stuff. And he probably didn't mean anything by it at all but I just thought - actually I can't say what I thought - I probably let my aggression and alcohol take over there and probably made an excuse for me to go over there and actually take it off him."

Both parties quickly dispersed following the incident and Warner claims he saw Finn "asleep in the gutter" on his exit from the bar.

At the time the England and Wales Cricket Board said Root was "in no way responsible for, nor retaliated to, the attack". The ECB did not respond to requests yesterday for comment on Warner's accusations against Root or Finn.

Warner's punishment for the fracas was to find himself banished to Australia's A squad in South Africa, meaning he missed the first two Tests of the 2013 Ashes series.

The incident also proved a tipping point for Mickey Arthur, Australia's South African coach at the time, who was sacked and replaced by Darren Lehmann.

Although England went on to win that summer's series 3-0, Warner coming back for the third Test at Old Trafford, both the opener and Lehmann have not looked back since, whitewashing England in the return series the following winter and winning the World Cup on home soil earlier this year.

Warner has also revealed he has put himself on a self-imposed alcohol ban to not only avoid a repeat of that night two years ago but also to play a big part in helping Australia win a first Ashes series in England since 2001.

"I haven't been told to, I don't want to prove a point, I just want to tell myself that I can be disciplined," he said. "But I'm definitely not ruling out having a beer if we win the series."

Warner made just four on day three of Australia's final warm-up match against Essex at Chelmsford yesterday, but he will not be too concerned after scoring 94 in the first innings.

The Australia captain Michael Clarke, who was out for a golden duck on the first day, top-scored with 77 as his side were reduced to 190 for 8 by the Second Division team.

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