As British police launch a new appeal for witnesses to a fight that threatens the Ashes campaign of Ben Stokes, David Warner has emphasised the vast gulf between the incident with the England all-rounder and the one that led to him being suspended for two Tests four years ago.
When news of Stokes’ involvement in a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub broke last month it immediately revived memories of the infamous night out in Birmingham in the lead-up to the 2013 Ashes when Warner’s so-called glancing blow on Joe Root landed him in trouble.
However, the subsequent release of confronting video footage showing Stokes pursuing a man and punching him to the ground revealed that the 26-year-old’s behaviour was in a very different category to that of Warner at the Walkabout bar.
The n batsman had taken offence to Root’s wearing of a party wig on his chin, thinking the Englishman was mocking South African batsman Hashim Amla, and Cricket came down hard on Warner when then coach Mickey Arthur learnt of the clash in the days afterwards. He was made to front a news conference in London, then sent off to Africa for a brief stint with an A squad there and banned from the first two Ashes Tests of that English summer.
Based on that punishment there are many that believe that had Stokes been an n player he would already have been sacked from the Ashes and had his contract torn up. As it stands, England have placed him on an indefinite suspension pending the outcome of a police investigation, but his central contract has been renewed.
“I did do my time,” said Warner, noting that the seriousness of his indiscretion four years ago “was a lot less than what we’ve seen on that footage, that’s for sure.”
Warner added: “It’s up to them what they want to do, how they punish him. First of all it’s up to the police obviously with their investigation findings to see what happens there.
“I think everyone in the world is waiting to see what happens there and what the outcome is.”
Warner, 30, has previously labelled his run-in with Root and what followed it as a major turning point for him. At that stage of his career he appeared to be a magnet for controversy, having only a month before been fined by CA for a tirade against two journalists after seeing his photo used next to a newspaper article delving into the seedy underbelly of the Indian Premier League.
“I had to deal with the situation that I was dealt with,” said the Test vice-captain of his Ashes ban four years ago. “Does Cricket regret that or not? I don’t know. I just copped it on the chin and moved forward.
“One thing they didn’t have was video footage. I’d still like to know where that is.
“That’s the different story in mine. There was no police investigation … nobody saw any footage of it. I don’t know if they even asked for footage. Everyone can only say what they heard, not what they saw.”
While Stokes remains highly unlikely to figure in the Ashes, the ns are preparing for the possibility that he could make it here.
“From our point of view, we’ve got to come ready to play, if he is or isn’t there,” Warner said. “I’ll just play it by ear as the police investigate.”