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No excuse for Big Bash bust-up

I was watching the match in the Big Bash between the Melbourne Renegades and the Melbourne Stars when the incident between Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels kicked off.

It was a case of handbags at ten paces until Lasith Malinga put paid to the argument with a vicious bouncer that ended the tournament for Samuels due to an eye injury.

The career of Samuels has been clouded with one controversy after another. He was banned for two years for match fixing. His bowling action is continually questioned. It is also fair to say that he has numerous problems with his peers on the international circuit.

Warne, on the other hand, has always enjoyed banter on the field. He has never been overly aggressive on the field and in fact shied away from real confrontation.

During the first test series after readmission we targeted him in this respect and he was particularly wary of big Brian McMillan who put him firmly on the back foot during the first test match of the home leg at the Wanderers. I was surprised that he resorted to becoming physical during his clash with Samuels. He must be getting brave in his old age.

Due to a confrontational style of play I was involved in a number of similar incidents in my playing career. During that time one could get away with a bit more, but these days with all the available technology there is no chance of getting away with anything.

The standard excuse, which I used myself as well, was that things happen in the heat of the moment. That was exactly what Warne said as well after the incident in Melbourne. This is quite a lame excuse. Matches are emotionally charged and self control does go out of the window from time to time but there is no excuse for the type of behaviour we witnessed in Melbourne.

I was particularly appalled by the response from Cricket Australia that the incident would heighten the popularity of the game and increase the rivalry between the Stars and the Renegades. The problem is that kids watch these games and emulate their heroes. The last thing the game needs is for this type of behaviour to occur in school and youth matches.

I am the first one to say that the game should be played hard and no quarter given. However, it should be played fair at all times with highly paid professional players behaving properly and setting an exemplary example to all concerned.

These incidents rarely occur in isolation and out of the blue. There is always a lead-up to a problem of this nature as there was in this incident. The problem started much earlier in the game between David Hussey and Samuels. This is where good umpires take control and stamp out unruly behaviour before it deteriorates into the end result we witnessed.

All concerned in the incident should take a long, hard look at themselves. Hopefully there will be none of that in matches to come.

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