Australia's David Warner.
Australia's David Warner. Themba Hadebe

Compare the bishop and the good bloke

DAVID Warner and David Sheppard are Test openers from different eras.

A study of their respective attitudes reveals what could be wrong with the prevailing Baggy Green persona these days.

Reverend Sheppard became the first ordained minister to play Test cricket in the 1950s and notched up two centuries against Australia: one as captain in Manchester and another on his second tour of this wide brown land at the MCG.

He was a steady opening bat who believed in worshipping his God by the way he lived. In cricket, his mantra was to lose with grace and win with humility.

It would be hard to envisage a more direct contrast to the psychological warfare pursued by Australian cricket in the 21st century.

Former Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland's comment, "it's not tiddlywinks”, summed up the prevailing philosophy.

What happened on the field stayed on the field and if you did not cross "the line” you were "a good bloke”. David Warner, known as 'The Bull', was one of the most vociferous sledgers until he got married. Then he quietened down and assumed the new pseudonym, 'The Reverend'.

Adam Gilchrist was commentating in South Africa when Quinton De Kock must have crossed that line into unacceptable country, for, in Gilchrist's succinct description, "Reverend's gone: Bulls back”. Warner needed to be physically restrained.

It was not long afterwards that he persuaded Cameron Bancroft he would not be a good bloke. "I would have

let everyone down. I would have felt like I hurt our chances to win the game of cricket.”

In the last Ashes series, The Reverend was still nowhere to be seen as The Bull indulged in a caustic on-field commentary against Jonny Bairstow which "crossed the line into abuse. England suggested privately that it was incredibly personal and hurtful.”

We are assured that we are now in a new era.

James Sutherland has left the scene but Justin Langer and Brad Haddin, both now heavily involved in coaching, certainly hailed from the "it's not tiddlywinks” era. It is to be hoped that they are reformed characters in this regard.

In the meantime, last words should go to Fred Trueman as they often did.

Upset by the Reverend Sheppard's performance in the slips, he quipped "it's a pity the Reverend didn't put his hands together on the field.”


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