Clarke backs Warner to behave, Johnson leads battle cry


Australia captain Michael Clarke expects temperamental opener David Warner to be on his best behaviour in Thursday’s World Cup semi-final against India, but Mitchell Johnson is ready to step up the sledging war.

Warner, who has already been warned twice for on-field verbal sledges, faces suspension from the final, should Australia qualify, if he is found guilty of another misdemeanour at the Sydney Cricket ground.

“David will be fine,” Clarke told reporters on Wednesday. “He knows the rules, as we all do, and his rules are no different than the rest of ours.”

But fast bowler Johnson said he did not expect any let up in Australia’s aggressive approach, and was even willing to take the lead if Warner did not sledge.

“I heard Davey (Warner) say he was not going to get involved in all that stuff,” Johnson told Fox Sports. “Someone has got to do it and I think I might put my hand up. It’s part of the game.”

Meanwhile all-rounder Shane Watson accepted he too was on thin ice after being fined for exchanging words with Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz during Australia’s quarter-final victory.

“I don’t want to get fined again or get suspended so I know I’m going to have to be even more diligent with what I say, when I say it and how I say it,” Watson said.

“Based on my last fine, I am just about on my last warning.”

– ‘Don’t want kids to see it’ –

The International Cricket Council faced criticism for being heavy-handed in fining both Wahab and Watson, but chief executive David Richardson insisted they had done the right thing.

“I enjoyed the competitiveness … it was just a pity it extended later in the game to something you wouldn’t want your kids to see,” said Richardson.

“Things get heated — we actually like them to get heated from time to time. On the odd occasion, you lose your cool and you say something you shouldn’t — perhaps you should get a fine or you might get suspended.”

Australia and India have had a tumultuous relationship on and off the field in recent years.

The bad blood showed up during India’s Test and one-day series in Australia prior to the World Cup when heated on-field exchanges led to several players being penalised.

Three Indian players, Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, and Australian left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc were charged for a breach of the ICC’s code of conduct.

Warner was reported both in the Test and one-day series, and was publicly told off by Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland to “stop looking for trouble.”

Meanwhile, Clarke did not expect the SCG wicket to throw up any surprises for Thursday’s semi-final, saying it will prove to be a good cricketing pitch.

There is growing speculation that the dry, brown wicket will suit India more than the home team’s fast bowlers, but Clarke said: “I think the SCG in general is a really good wicket for both both batting and bowling.”

India have beaten Australia just once in 35 years in a one-day international at the SCG and the hosts have won all six World Cup semi-finals they have contested since the inaugural event in 1975.

Australia will start as favourites, but Clarke insisted the expectations from home fans will not put undue pressure on his side.

“Expectations will be there because we are the number one one-day team in the world,” he said. “The reason you have that expectation on you is because you’ve performed.”

Organisers expect Indian fans to outnumber their Australian counterparts at the the 42,000-capacity SCG, but Clarke said: “That’s fine. We have played in India a number of times and they out-support us there as well.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to have the opportunity to play in your own backyard and to play in Australia.”