Spurred on by the heated exchanges during Australia’s quarter-final clash against Pakistan, paceman Mitchell Johnson has said he may take on the mantle of the sledger-in-chief in the semi-finals against India as it is “part of the game”.
Despite ICC boss Dave Richardson’s warning before the World Cup that repeat offenders will be hit with match bans, allrounder Glenn Maxwell said this week Australia are not concerned that David Warner will be dragged into another incident with India and risk a potential ban.
An otherwise aggressive Warner has stayed away from any on-field controversy after a series of spats with Indian players during the Test series.
The heated exchanges continued into the tri-series and Warner was fined for asking India’s Rohit Sharma to “speak English” during the Melbourne ODI.
Johnson though suggested that Warner may take a back seat when it comes to Australia’s aggressive approach at the SCG.
“I heard Davey say he wasn’t going to get involved in all that stuff,” Johnson told Fox Sports.
“Someone’s got to do it and I think I might put my hand up. It’s part of the game and what happened the other day with Shane (Watson) and Wahab (Riaz) I thought was exceptional, the way they played the game,” Johnson said.
“It was unfortunate with what happened afterwards. I thought it was great entertaining cricket to watch and I think you’re going to see some more entertainment this game,” he said.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann was left disappointed with fines imposed on Shane Watson and Wahab Riaz for their on-field exchanges and says that it will not dampen the players’ passion at the SCG.
“I can’t help but think it’s a bit disappointing that the exchange was deemed to have crossed the line and I’ve been interested to read that greats of the game such as Brian Lara and Kevin Pietersen were surprised that’s how it was interpreted,” Lehmann wrote on cricket.com.au.
“But I have no doubt the passion and the thrills that Wahab’s spell ignited among the crowd in Adelaide will be there for all to see and hear at the SCG when we take on India in Thursday’s semi-final.”
Australia all-rounder James Faulkner also believes that tensions would be high in the penultimate knockout game. “There’s going to be words said and it’s going to be a really tough contest,” Faulkner said.
“I think there always is (sledging) in the game, if there isn’t you’ve got problems. “It’s the nature of the game, it’s a semi-final. Cut throat. “Neither team will be backing down.”