Martin Crowe has branded David Warner a “thug” who risks causing a full-scale on-field brawl during the World Cup.
Crowe’s comments came in the wake of Warner’s ugly confrontation with India’s Rohit Sharma during Australia’s four-wicket Tri-Series win in Melbourne when the Australia opener appeared to tell his opponent to “speak English”.
The pair had clashed in the 23rd over of India’s innings after Rohit ran on an overthrow from Warner in the field. Warner has since admitted he was wrong, telling Sydney-based radio show the Big Sports Breakfast: “I approached Sharma and I shouldn’t have.”
The 28-year-old also confirmed he had been fined 50% off his match fee by the International Cricket Council for his involvement in the incident.
But Crowe, a hugely respected figure who played 77 Tests and 143 one-day internationals for New Zealand, believes the punishment should have been more severe.
“Watching from the luxury of my couch and after hearing numerous accounts from respected cricket people, there is a growing concern that David Warner’s thuggish behaviour has gone too far,” Crowe wrote in a column for Cricinfo. “Soon one day it will lead to an incident that will sully the game for good.”
“Before things escalate the ICC needs to arm the officials with everything possible to stop the idiots who are ruining our enjoyment of the game. My concern in the immediate future will be that Warner will be in the centre of an ugly on-field fight during the upcoming World Cup.”
Warner was banished from Australia’s squad after his infamous confrontation with Joe Root at Birmingham’s Walkabout bar in 2013, when he punched the England batsman following a Champions Trophy game between the sides at Edgbaston.
Yet he has been a player transformed since coming back into the Australia team during the Ashes series later that summer, his 523 runs helping inspire a whitewash in the return series back on home soil last winter. He also scored a match-winning century against England in the opening match of the Tri-Series in Sydney last Friday.
However, Crowe, who has called for the introduction of yellow and red cards in cricket, said: “Warner can play, but he is the most juvenile cricketer I have seen on a cricket field. I don’t care how good he is: if he continues to show all those watching that he doesn’t care, he must be removed, either by Cricket Australia or definitely by the world governing body.
“The more he gets away with it, the more others will follow his pitiful actions. Already we see one or two of his team-mates enjoying being close to his hideous energy.”