BIRMINGHAM: Australia vice-captain David Warnerbelieves he’s a better man for the incident that saw him punch England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar four years ago.
Warner was suspended and fined after the incident during the 2013 Champions Trophyfollowing England’s victory over Australia at Edgbaston.
Now almost four years to the day, Australia are back at Edgbaston for what is set to be a must-win Champions Trophy group fixture against arch-rivals England on Saturday, with Warner and Root key batsmen for their respective teams.
“It was a learning curve for myself,” Warner told reporters at Edgbaston on Thursday.
“I was young and now I’m old,” the 30-year-old left-hander added. “I’ve two kids and I’m married. There’s a lot of settling down there.
“It definitely was (key) to me becoming the person I am today, not just the cricketer.
“We all go through periods when we’re young and naive. It’s not about stuffing up and moving on, it’s about learning the ropes of being away on tour for such a long period of time. There are things you have to think about as a youngster: what you can or can’t I do.”
Warner, reflecting on the changes in his life, said: “I probably didn’t work that out at that stage. But now I have and I have a great balance on and off the field.”
As for meeting up with Root this weekend, Warner added: “If I see him I’ll give him a handshake.”
It was suggested at the time that Warner felt Root, who was messing about with a wig, was somehow mocking South Africa’s Muslim batsman Hashim Amla.
Root and his England team-mates have always denied any such inference, insisting the Yorkshireman was making fun of his youthful appearance and difficulty in growing facial hair.
One reason why this point did not gain much traction at the time was because it was at odds with Warner’s, the image of a hard-drinking Australian.
“People didn’t look too far or deep into it to see who was in the right or wrong,” Warner said.
“But that’s all gone, it’s in the past and we can tell a happily ever after story at the end of my career.”
Known back then by the nickname ‘Bull’, Warner’s team-mates now fondly refer to him as ‘Rev’, a sign of how his life has changed although the ‘Bull’ has not disappeared from the scene completely.
“It just depends what day you get me,” explained Warner.
“Most of the time, I’m probably the Reverend — as they say — but it’s about winning games for Australia and being the best person I can around the team and around people outside cricket.”
Meanwhile Warner said he would return to Birmingham’s Walkabout bar, the scene of the altercation with Root, so long as soft drinks were on the house.
“If they give me a couple of free drinks, some diet cokes, and the rest of the boys, they can shout them a table,” he said.