Almanac Cricket – Davey Warner and the Deluded Toxic Masculinity of the Australian Cricketer: A Performance in Six Acts

Such a shame – this #Warner fiasco. When cricket should be the focus.

But the episode reveals an ongoing topic we can call: “The deluded toxic masculinity of the Australian cricketer” – a Performance in Six Acts.

Toxic masculinity is behind many of society’s ills (e.g. domestic violence). The insecurities of boys inside the bodies of men; unable or unwilling to navigate the emotional range of a life. Tim Winton will be in Melbourne soon talking about this at the School of Life.


In the case of Australian culture generally, how we view overt masculinity is complex. I’m thinking T. Abbott when holding the office of Prime Minister declaring he would shirtfront V Putin at one point. Thinking of the evolution of same-sex marriage.

The Australian men’s cricket team is a microcosm of society, I guess. But it is an unrepresentative sample. It is a testosterone-fuelled environment defined by individual performance and collective success.


Even so, men’s cricket teams from other parts of the world do not seem to have as much trouble as Australia’s in respecting other people. The toxic masculinity of Australian cricket is relatively unique. (See today’s Cricinfo piece by Sharda Ugra


Looking to other sports played by men in Australia, rugby league perhaps is another in which the behaviours of players are out of line with wider expectations. Expectations of Australian footballers have changed, such that resilience is seen as a significant personal achievement. For all the sledging and physicality of a footy season, players need to keep themselves in check.


Those wider expectations are those of teachers, parents, junior coaches and children. The rest of us. When I was teaching at secondary school in Melbourne, we would have called this Davey Warner episode a “teachable moment.” With not much imagination we can probably all see the Year 8 boy inside Davey; battling with insecurities (Am I good enough? Do they like me? Does she like me? Is she telling me the truth?). But we all of us face insecurities. We don’t all get violent.

Resilience is a character trait that gets a lot of coverage these days. It’s a trait, but it’s also a skill. Something that can be learned. Gratitude, Mindfulness, Empathy.


This latest episode of D Warner in South Africa is so interesting: (i) he is said to be a reformed character; (ii) travelling journalists may have become too close to be objective; (iii) even his post-sanction comments reveal a lack of insight into his behaviour; (iv) he seems to reveal a deep insecurity to the world, (v) people seem vexed about the rights and wrongs of this.


Looking only at DA Warner’s comments as reported on Cricket Australia website (his employer), we can clearly see this “Deluded Toxic Masculinity of the Australian Cricketer: A Performance in Six Acts”. In fact, before we even start, Davey’s employer supports his delusion through the title of its article: “Warner breaks silence on ‘disgusting’ sledge.”


All quotes below are Davey Warner’s via the article above.



Act 1

Vice captain and reasonable cricketer DA Warner “accepts” a level 2 breach of the ICC code of conduct.


Act 2

“I don’t believe it should have been said and I’ll always stick up for my family and in that case my teammates as well.”
Far from accepting blame for his behaviour, Davey outlines how he was right and noble and wronged.


Act 3

“At the end of the day, we’re all men and if you’re going to say something you look at someone in the eye and say it.”
Further, Davey invokes a Neanderthal world in which he somehow emerges as being stronger (more of a man?) than his adversary.


Act 4

“I play with aggression on the field and I try not to cross that line and it has been in the past that I have sort of been fiery.”
Attempts to dismiss patently bad behaviour as the stuff of ignorant youth, rather than of the wizened old man we see on video in the staircase.


Act 5

“That’s how I play my cricket; I live by the sword and die by the sword.”
Invoke false equivalence of someone who plays a game in an aggressive way with the emotional maturity response to provocation of fictional movie character Marty McFly. (Failing to acknowledge (or realise?) that there are other ways).


Act 6

“As I said, it’s a thing you wouldn’t say about any lady, especially someone’s wife or a player’s wife.”
Final appeal to appear as a knight in shining armour – as opposed to a man prone to violent impulsive aggressive reactions. A bit dangerous. A man to be avoided.



In previous, less-enlightened times, this behaviour may have been encouraged/ rewarded/ supported.
In 2018 we know not to walk past this standard of behaviour.
I wonder how long CA will take to catch up…


I wondered whether or not to write about this.  I understand that the cricket should be the real focus. But then, the idea that juniors, seniors, boys, girls, are again exposed to this mayhem, and are then exposed to its justification, strikes me as significant. Standards, walking past, etc etc.

It is a “a teachable moment.”

Go well.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and likes to walk around feeling generally amazed. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Hmmm David, yep there are aspects of this i can accept, but as Badiou says,’one always divides into two’.

    I find Warner quite Boorish, what you would describe as a bogan, but a few salutory points i’d like to raise. This may give it more credence .

    In this time of the Me # to movement,it was hoped male behaviour towards women would improve. Do we know what De Kock said to Warner about Warner’s wife? It must have been something quite tacky judging by the reaction. No, it’s not about exonerating Warner, but being cognisant one always divides into two.

    Where can we find the statistics for players charged under the ICC code of conduct ? It grates me constantly hearing people talk about how badly behaved Australian players are, thus i’d like to see these statistics .


  2. E.regnans says

    G’day Glen – it’s a bit of a broken record, I’m afraid.
    Check out that piece I mentioned in the article.
    On today’s cricinfo. Better resourced to answer your questions than this little black duck.

  3. David i perused Sharda Ugra’s article and there is indeed a litany of unpleasant behaviours involving the Green’n’Gold. She goes back to the Lillee Miandad episode in 1981-82. Why not go back a couple of years prior to discuss the Windies tour of New Zealand in 1979-80? There’s also a mention of the behaviour of Anderson and jadeja but not Kohli: WTF ?!?

    I’ve had a quick look and so far not found a link to players charged under the ICC code of conduct.

    I’m not trying to exonerate the Australians but i do find it arduous that they are portrayed as the only offenders i this context. Read any Greg Baum article.


  4. David, was just reading your piece and came across this tweet:

    Humour aside, ’tis a shame it strikes as so true.

    As you said, we’d love that cricket be the focus here, but the important lessons seem like they’ve been difficult to learn.

  5. E.regnans says

    G’day Glen
    Ahh, well. “truth is where you find it” (Madonna).

    Here’s a longish article from The Cricket Monthly looking at ICC Code breaches January 1992- October 2016 across Tests, ODIs & T20s.
    Offences broken down, plotted. According to teams, referees, etc
    India offended 7-in-100 matches
    Pakistan 6-in-100
    Australia 5-in-100
    Bangladesh 5-in-100
    S Africa 5-in-100
    West Indies 5
    England 4
    Sri Lanka 4
    New Zealand 4
    Zimbabwe 4
    Lots of detail in there. Tests v OD!s, Dissent v ball tampering v intimidating an umpire
    The whole subjective nature of ICC charges.
    But this is disappearing down a rabbit-hole.
    The point is that we can all act well. Choose to act well.
    This choice is not dependent on someone else.

  6. E.regnans says

    Yep Jarrod – twitter has been alive to the comedic potential of this episode.
    That’s a good way to go.

    I’ve gone with the sober here, as I see these behaviours repeated at suburban grounds and it’s not OK.
    Chipping away.

  7. In the scheme of boorish Aussie cricketer behaviour deserving of sanction imo the court of public opinion has misread the play here.

    Warner, as a bloke, isn’t my cup of Joe, though I say that based only on the pearls of wisdom he imparts in the media.

    But in this instance I ask the indignants what would they do if de Kock said whatever filth he said about your wife? Wait until later and punch out an email or send a retaliatory tweet? In the heat of the moment, in a test match with much at stake, I’d be standing up for myself and my wife, if I had any cahunas.

    The aspect which surprises me is that players of both teams are walking up the same staircase. Probably not best practice in any sport.

    I’ve probably also been guilty of not playing every ball on its merits but I also think Warner being Warner has been judged harshly based on the runs (or lack of) he has on the board in the nice guy stakes.

  8. E.regnans says

    G’day JD,
    Thanks for dipping your oar in.
    My point here is that there are other ways to deal with difficulty.
    If someone sledges an area of my insecurity (which doesn’t include my wife – it would be more around having a poor memory, poor judgement, something to do with brain function), that is most likely to provoke me.
    But I know that.
    So I can choose to let it pass.
    It can be hard.
    It takes bigger cahunas, I would say, to let it pass.
    But the alternative ends up worse.
    (and I’ve made poor decisions as we probably all have.)

    The communal staircase?
    Not ideal, but to blame that would be probably akin blaming a gun for a shooting.
    I know you’re not blaming it.

    I walked past a bookshop at lunchtime and a high-selling book was called “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck”. That’s one for DA Warner. And anyone who is provoked easily.

    Imagine if he had have laughed it off in that staircase. Then who holds the power?

    I’m pretty comfortable with everything above.
    No idea how the Court of public opinion is judging this.
    It’s a teachable moment – mos’ def.
    Thanks JD.

  9. E.regnans says

    Paul Gregory said on FB just now that this episode reminded him of a Martin Crowe article from 2013.
    “The masks we wear”

    Interesting that his observations of DA Warner made in 2013 still apply.

  10. JBanister says

    Timely, as ever. Ugly. A blight on the game.
    The hypermasculinity follows when the national identity is/was based on war and sport.

  11. Ta David, that gives me some more scope.

    Well said JD. What ever De Kock allegedly said seems to be allowed to go through to the keeper. His sledge is not getting much coverage. Y???


  12. Pamela Sherpa says

    It’s all just so pathetic. There is no excuse for bad manners, on or off the field .

  13. I read an article today by Malcolm Knox, whose opinion I usually rate, and I’m convinced now I’ve lost my eyesight. He compared Warner’s inability to turn the other cheek to Ben Stokes. Funny, I could have sworn all I saw on the stairwell footage was a verbal tete a tete that endured for roughly 5-10 seconds. Holy moly.

  14. Like JD and others I find Warner boorish, but I didn’t find his “attempted assault/retaliation” particularly dangerous. Dumb, stupid and immature – yes. But every front bar has “perceived demeaned masculinity” chesting up to it’s mirror image – before thinking better of it.
    Sound and fury signifying nothing. Move along – nothing to see here.
    But I find the whole onfield sledging/mental disintegration culture repulsive. And that seems to be at the core of the eventual confrontation between Warner and De Kock.
    Nick Kyrgios must be scratching his head. His Wawrinka sledge seems standard operating procedure for Macho Australis. Why do we condone behaviour in team sport that we deplore in individual contests? Proximity? Audibility? Directness?
    Why do Australian teams have to make themselves big (firing up?) by making others small?
    What happened to competing WITH rather than competing AGAINST?]
    Things we never hear on the golf course or tennis court:
    Rory: “Over the shaggers back yet Tiger?”
    Tiger: “Caroline has come on in leaps and bounds since dumping you. 1-0 in Majors since.”
    Why do we think it’s part of “getting the edge” in team sports?
    Thanks ER.

  15. Well as the fall out from the first test continues to enhance discussions on masculinity the second test is happening.

    I might surmise Kagiso Rabada has earnt a holiday with his physical contact with Steve Smith. Not the first time this chap has behaved like this.


  16. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thought-provoking stuff ER and a fascinating case study to teach/examine with teenage boys, who are often battling their impulses.
    Resilience is key and humour.
    When you cut through all the bullshit, your reaction is a choice. Dave Warner ought to know better by now. He’s no novice.

  17. John Butler says

    A worthy contribution here, E Reg..

    Like you, I find this whole subject area is increasingly tiresome. And I’m amazed that CA seems blind to the brand damage it continues to inflict.

    The big problem here is the overall dressing room culture. On this score, Boof Lehman is head cheer-leader, not a modifying factor. It’s been this way since the days of Steve Waugh’s ‘mental disintegration’. That notion turned the aggression of the Chappell days into a systemised/weaponised strategy.

    Australian cricket now clings to the idea like an addict. We effectively advertised our intentions prior to this series.

    Glen’s right that we aren’t alone here. The Saffas in particular seem fixated in anticipation of the Australian onslaught, and tend to over-react. To that extent, Australia’s strategy is probably working.

    In such an environment, things are always going to spiral out of control.

    But do any of the leaders involved actually care if they can continue to skate without any great consequence?

  18. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    My interest in the Australian men’s teams is hanging by the slenderest of threads.

  19. E.regnans says

    Good thoughtful thread here.
    Well played.
    Here’s an interview with Tim Winton, who explores the big questions. And is a keen observer with eye and ear.
    “What is a man?” “How do I be a man?”
    From the Good Weekend.

  20. Does any body have anything to offer on people associated with South African cricket and the ‘Sonny boy Williams’ masks?



  21. John Butler says

    I’ll offer something Glen. That was puerile, stupid and callous in regards to the woman affected. If those SA cricket officials lose their jobs they have no one else to blame but themselves.

    Likewise, if Rabada gets himself rubbed out for that pointless effort with Smith he has egregiously let his team mates down when they needed him most.

    But none of that erases the fact that the Aussies went into this series with the clearly expressed attitude that they thought they could suck the Saffas in with the verbal stuff. It appears they are right.

    But give me a break. If Dave Warner fires bullets all day long, and finally someone snaps and lobs back a grenade as overreaction, he takes us all for idiots if he sanctimoniously tries to play the wounded party.

    Australian cricket is trashing its own brand with this crap.

  22. Pretty adroit JB.

    I’m not one who choses to exonerate Warner for his behaviour, as I said in my first posting in this conversation I see him as a bogan. But as always one divides into two. The South Africans are no babes in the woods, they’re happy to dish it out. All of them are adults, so all are complicit in these actions.

    Contrary to ‘popular mythology’ the Australians don’t hold a monopoly on bad behaviour, though their actions seem more scrutinised than their opponents.


  23. Jan Courtin says

    The main issue I have, David, is the “juniors, seniors, boys and girls…” statement. Why “seniors “? At what point, or age, do “oldies” suffer from the discretions of which you speak?

  24. Drop a ball on AB DeVilliers when he has been run out to sledge/humiliate him. How’s that working out for Australia?
    Who does the strategy planning down at Moron Central, or whatever Boof calls his team meetings. Some people gain strength from adversity. Who knew?

  25. They are some fine words, J Butler.

    Glen – I understand that Australian cricketers are not the only international cricketers to behave poorly. My personal interest, however, is in the performance of Australian cricketers.
    It is purely against objective standards that they should be judged – not in a comparative sense with other cricketers from other places.
    (“I know we’re bad but at least we’re not as bad as XYZ” simply doesn’t wash).

    Hi Jan – I used the word “seniors” above in the sense of local park cricket – which is typically divided into juniors and seniors teams. Seniors being the adults. So I’d say people from age 17 and older would typically suffer those discretions and be labelled as “seniors”.

  26. Thanks David. Had me worried there for a moment!

  27. And from this vantage point, we see that two weeks later, DA Warner had a brain snap.
    You could almost call it predictable.
    I wonder who is looking out for him.

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