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Where is the spirit of cricket?

The Ashes is meant to be a celebration of Test cricket where England and Australia play hard, but fairly.

While both teams cannot be accused of disrespecting the rules, the on-field and off-field chat during the opening Test match at Brisbane is nothing but distasteful.

Brisbane provided a fine example of both teams taking aggression to a different level and there is no place for this extreme approach in cricket. Opponents must be respected, can even be treated as enemies, but commenting on the opponents’ mental state — like David Warner did when he spoke about England’s No 3 batsman Jonathan Trott in the midst of a Test match is highly condemnable. That Trott returned home deep in depression is beside the point.

Firstly, century-maker Warner should have just been talking about his batting deeds instead of talking about the opposition at the end of Day Three on Saturday: “England are on the back foot. It does look like they’ve got scared eyes at the moment. The way that Trotty got out today was pretty poor, and pretty weak. Obviously, there’s a weakness there at the moment — and we’re probably on top of it.”

Just like he was pulled up by Cricket Australia earlier this year for his Twitter outburst at journalist Robert Craddock, his comments on the opposition should have attracted censure from the establishment. His country’s board must act before things get out of hand in this series which otherwise has the makings of a riveting contest.

Another off-putting aspect of the Brisbane controversy is Shane Warne’s revelation that England fast bowler James Anderson threatened to punch debutant batsman George Bailey. That would be the worse possible thing to return to cricket after the Javed Miandad-Dennis Lillee scuffle in the Perth Test of the 1981-82 Australia vs Pakistan series.

Clearly, the Ashes 2013-14 match referee Jeff Crowe has to play a more proactive role in this high-octane series. A quiet chat with the rival captains won’t do. The stern warning must be in the public domain. Cricket is at great risk. A physical assault could be imminent if the authorities don’t crack the whip on time. That time is now.

Spectators come to watch a good bat versus ball contest and not to see which player is smarter than the other in lip service. They’ll go to the movies if they are interested in that! 

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