YORKSHIRE’S England batsman Joe Root says he would have no problem with the introduction of red and yellow cards as the sport continues to wrestle with the problem of on-field aggression.
The frequency and tone of sledging and the apparently increasing number of spats between rival players is under the microscope, with Root’s old sparring partner David Warner at the centre.
He is known as one of the game’s most combustible characters and was sent home from the 2013 Champions Trophy for punching Root in a Birmingham bar during a night out.
Warner is also a fiery figure on the field and he found himself at the centre of another controversy on Sunday when he exchanged words with India’s Rohit Sharma, demanding the batsman “speak English” to him.
This led former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe to call for the introduction of umpire cautions and dismissals for misbehaving players.
Crowe also called Warner “thuggish” and “juvenile” and suggested he could soon become involved in an on-field brawl.
Root was on hand with a familiar refrain about “playing hard and not crossing the line”, but appeared receptive to the putative card system.
“It seems there’s a lot of people who are not happy with the way players are holding themselves on the field so if that will sort it out then why not?” he said ahead of England’s second Tri-Series match against India this morning.
“You come across it and you have to find a way to deal with it. When you’re out there, your job is to score runs or take wickets and if your focus is elsewhere then you’re not doing your best for the team. You just instinctively know where the line is. It’s about showing respect for each other.
“You try to make sure you have respect for the opposition, but still play to win and play hard cricket. That’s how we want it to be played. You know where the line is generally and as long as you don’t cross it that’s what it’s all about.
“I’m sure the ICC will handle it, it’s up to them to sort it out.”
Despite Root’s late night run-in with Warner, the 24-year-old does not expect to see opponents getting physical with each other in the middle any time soon.
“I can’t see it, to be honest. Someone will have to be in a really bad place to do that. For me it should only be about scoring runs and taking wickets,” he said. “It should not be about trying to upset the opposition too much. You should do that with ball or bat. There have been a few things that have happened over the last few months that haven’t been good for the game, but I can’t see it leading to a punch-up. It’s not ice hockey.”
Root also took time to reflect on the efforts of South Africa’s AB de Villiers, who hit the fastest ODI century against the West Indies, reaching three figures off 31 balls as the Proteas made 439-2.
That kind of blockbuster effort appears a step beyond what England are capable of producing in limited-overs cricket, but Root insists the squad are working on it.
“He is a bit of a freak; he’s a very good player, but as a side that’s what we’re aiming to do, to get those big scores,” said Root.
“Okay, it would be a serious effort to get anywhere near that, but, as a side, that’s our aim moving forward. I think we’re not far away from doing that now.
“It’s exciting to see just before a World Cup and it’s an unbelievable effort. You want entertainment like that and, hopefully, it will happen more frequently.”
England Lions conceded a three-figure first-innings lead after centuries from South Africa A’s Theunis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma on a chastening second day of four for the tourists in Bloemfontein.
De Bruyn (161) and Test batsman Bavuma (102) shared a fourth-wicket stand of 210, after two early breakthroughs had promised much better for the Lions in this second and final unofficial Test.
Following last week’s draw in Paarl – where De Bruyn made an unbeaten maiden double-century – the 22-year-old once again took a liking to an attack in which Boyd Rankin (3-61) fared best as South Africa A reached 389-7 in reply to 260 all out.
Rankin and Mark Wood each made a near instant breakthrough as the hosts stumbled to 29-3. But after De Bruyn and Bavuma had combined, and then captain Justin Ontong (54) helped to put on another 99 for the fifth wicket, Jonathan Trott’s team already knew they were in for a battle to save the match and draw the two-game series.
Durham fast bowler Wood is to stay with the squad for the forthcoming 50-over series as a replacement for Craig Overton, who has an ankle injury.
England will play in Melbourne if they reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup irrespective of pool position.
Comment: Page 10.