Michael Clarke's brutal David Warner swipe in message to cricket rivals

Pictured left to right are Aussie cricket figures Michael Clarke and David Warner.
Michael Clarke has warned David Warner to expect sledging over the ball-tampering scandal when Australia's Test series against South Africa gets underway. Pic: Getty

Former Australia Test cricket captain Michael Clarke has seemingly thrown his countryman David Warner under the bus, after delivering a shock message to the South African team, ahead of the first Test between the two sides at the Gabba. The Aussies - fresh from a thumping series sweep against the West Indies - take on the Proteas in a three-Test series that gets underway in Brisbane on Saturday.

The two proud cricket nations were involved in one of the most controversial series in recent times in 2018, when Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were banned over the infamous ball-tampering saga, famously nicknamed, 'Sandpapergate'. The scandal has made headlines again over the last few days after Warner withdrew his appeal to have a lifetime ban overturned, in response to the controversy.

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Fearing what he described would be a "media circus" as an independent panel dredged up the ball-tampering saga again, and acutely aware of how it could open he and his family up to public ridicule and condemnation all over again, Warner dropped his appeal before hitting out on social media. In a lengthy and scathing Instagram post, David insisted: "My family is more important to me than cricket".

Warner's wife Candice this week broke down speaking about the family "hell" they'd endured since the ball-tampering scandal, after revealing her young daughters had been the victims of abuse from fans at the cricket. She also revealed that a group of men had hurled "vile" insults at her in front of her children, during last week's Test against the West Indies at the Adelaide Oval.

Candice Warner says she was subjected to vile abuse in front of her daughters at Adelaide Oval, during Australia's Test match against the West Indies. Pic: Getty/Instagram
Candice Warner says she was subjected to vile abuse in front of her daughters at Adelaide Oval, during Australia's Test match against the West Indies. Pic: Getty/Instagram

Speaking on Sky Sports radio’s The Big Sports Breakfast program, Clarke suggested it would be naive of David to think that South Africa's players won't antagonise him about the sandpaper scandal when the two sides lock horns in the first of three Tests. Clarke has lit the fuse for what could be a heated affair after warning Australia's opening batter to expect a barrage from the Proteas players - provided they don't cross the line.

“Their approach to any player that was involved in that ‘Sandpapergate’, they’ve got it mate,” Clarke said on the radio program. "It doesn’t need to cross the line, but you can make it very clear to someone like David Warner that the Australian fans are off him.”

Clarke's brutally honest assessment did come with a major caveat, in that any barbs directed at Warner could have a disastrous effect for South Africa. “I want to see Davey Warner, if they have a crack at him on the field while he’s batting, go back to being that Bulldog and give it back to them, Clarke added.

The former Aussie skipper could get his wish for a spicy Test series between the rival countries, with the Proteas insisting they have learnt from Virat Kohli's India side about the need to be "in the faces" of Australia in order to succeed on these shores.

A combative element has existed between the two sides for decades, epitomised by stoic and uncompromising Proteas skippers Graeme Smith and Faf du Plessis, who were at the helm for series wins in Australia in 2008-09, 2012-13 and 2016-17 - an extraordinary record that few other touring sides can boast.

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South Africa's next generation of stars such as batter Theunis de Bruyn - who recently made an aggressive 88 against a Cricket Australia XI side - says they have learned from other successful touring sides and insists that Dean Elgar's men will take the fight to the Aussies from the get-go.

"I think you have to," he said. "Teams have that have been successful here over the last few years are South Africa and India. Virat brought that to the Indian cricket team, playing in opposition's faces.

"It doesn't have to be verbally, but (with) body language and eye contact. It is not always easy in South Africa. We are used to having it tough."

Pictured left to right, Proteas captain Dean Elgar and South Africa teammate Theunis de Bruyn share a moment during day one of the tour match against a Cricket Australia XI.
Proteas captain Dean Elgar (L) celebrates his century with teammate Theunis de Bruyn during day one of the tour match against a Cricket Australia XI. Pic: Getty

De Bruyn, 30, said the rough and tumble grounding in South Africa for young cricketers prepared them to take on Australia on foreign soil.

"As a youngster back home we get brought up tough with the older ones or fathers or uncles. They hit you with a ball and they chirp you and say, 'That's Aussie'.

"So from a young age you get spiced up for getting into the battle. I wouldn't say it is nice getting hit hard, but it is nice getting the competitive juices flowing. That is what Test cricket is about.

"All we can do is front up to the Aussies, give it our best and play true to our DNA, and be in their faces.

"Playing against Australia in their own conditions is something we as South Africans enjoy ... that underdog tag or whatever you want to call it to really front up and fight."

with AAP

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