Marais Erasmus, Marnus Labuschagne, David Warner
Marais Erasmus, Marnus Labuschagne, David Warner

Paine forced to defend Warner over pitch furore

AUSTRALIAN captain Tim Paine insists David Warner did not deliberately try and scuff up the pitch as he defended the sportsmanship of his side and star player.

Paine was left bemused by a bizarre 5-run penalty imposed on the Australians by umpires who deemed that Marnus Labuschagne and Warner had purposefully run on the pitch in a bid to tear it up for spinner Nathan Lyon to benefit from in the final innings.

Warner remonstrated with umpire Aleem Dar over the incident and Fox Cricket commentators Adam Gilchrist, Kerry O'Keeffe and Brett Lee were stunned at the match officials taking such a harsh view.

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Paine said he was still unclear over exactly what transpired, but fiercely leapt to the defence of Warner and team tactics.

"Personally I didn't see too much in it and certainly it wasn't David trying to do that on purpose or a directive from our side," said Paine post-match.

"The wicket was breaking up as it was. It didn't' need to break up any more than what it had. So we'll wait and see what comes of it.

"The footage I saw on TV looked OK … like he hit the ball and tried to get off as quickly as he could.

"One of the umpires obviously saw it differently ... we'll see what comes of it."

There was confusion all around, with Dar making an incorrect signal to announce the 5-run penalty.

Due to the enforcement of the rule being almost unheard of, there was also doubt from scorers about where the runs should be added or subtracted from the scoreboard.

In the end, five runs was added to New Zealand's first innings.

Labuschagne was initially pinged for running up the wicket as he ran between ends, and then Warner was nabbed soon after - despite an apparent attempt to get off the surface.

"I wasn't too sure what was going on but I wasn't happy," Warner told the ABC after Australia had completed a 279-run victory.

"He just said there was a warning for Marnus and it was just like he was just trying to put his foot down and stamp his authority."

"I couldn't actually quite understand because I think when you confront Aleem with little things like that he gets a little bit in your face. You've got to respect the umpire and at the end of the day you've got to try and stay off the wicket."

Law 41.14 of the MCC Laws of Cricket states 'it is unfair to cause deliberate or avoidable damage to the pitch'.

Umpire Aleem Dar signals the five-run penalty. Picture: Getty
Umpire Aleem Dar signals the five-run penalty. Picture: Getty

Lee asked the question in Fox commentary about where Warner was supposed to run after hitting the ball, except with his first few paces up the pitch.

"I think it's a fair point from David Warner," said former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee on Fox Cricket.

"I mean, where's he meant to run?"

Fox Cricket analyst Kerry O'Keeffe agreed.

"I don't think he could have veered off quicker than he did, given his momentum," O'Keeffe said.

"There was no intent to really churn it up … he actually tried to veer quickly after he played the shot."

News Corp Australia


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