The Warner-de Kock stoush has slut-shaming at its core

by Paul Thomas / 22 March, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - David Warner Quinton de Kock

Australian batsman and test vice-captain David Warner has put up with years of abuse. Photo/Getty Images

The Australians earnt scant sympathy for the staircase stoush, but Quinton de Kock crossed the line.

Not even the combined heft of #metoo and International Women’s Day can persuade the cricket community to set aside its loathing of the Australian men’s team and vice-captain David Warner in particular.

During the recent test at Kingsmead in Durban, Warner was filmed raging at South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock on the staircase outside their respective dressing rooms during a break in play. The Australians were on top and, as is often the case, had been sledging the opposition batsmen. They hunt as a pack and Warner is the leader.

As they left the field, Warner called de Kock a “f---ing sook”. Inside the pavilion, de Kock, who was following Warner, muttered the remark that ignited the flare-up. Warner characterised it as “vile and disgusting and about my wife”.

The response among media and fans here and elsewhere was, in effect, “who cares?” The Ugly Australians were copping some of their own medicine. ESPNcricinfo senior editor Sharda Ugra asked, “Why is it that whenever there’s an epic-proportion bust-up in international cricket, Australians are almost always involved?”

There was precious little sympathy for the Aussies’ complaint that de Kock had “crossed a line”. Ugra again: “Such righteousness from the prime offender can only invite ridicule.”

Sonny Bill Williams, Candice Falzon, Quinton de Kock. Photo/Getty Images

Warner’s wife, Candice (née Falzon), a former ironwoman and model, is something of a celebrity across the Tasman. In 2007, when she was 22, she was captured on camera participating in a “tryst” in the men’s toilet of a Sydney pub with none other than Sonny Bill Williams. It’s assumed de Kock made mention of that. South African fans certainly thought so: many turned up to the next test wearing SBW masks.

It’s hard to understand why the notion of crossing a line caused so much derision. Sport is criss-crossed by lines: they’re called “rules” or “laws”, and whether they are written or unwritten, you break them at your peril. A batsman cannot be given out lbw to a ball that pitches so much as a centimetre outside leg stump, even if it’s certain that it was going to strike the middle of middle stump. In rugby, if you hit an opponent above shoulder-height, you’ll be sent from the field.

Sledging must be measured in relative terms and it’s absurd to insist otherwise. Warner, we’re told, “asked for it”, but I am aware of no instances of Warner or any current Australian player dwelling on an opponent’s partner’s sexual history. South African coach Ottis Gibson asked, “Where is the line? Where did the line come from?” If you don’t know, I’d suggest you shouldn’t be coaching schoolkids, let alone internationals.

It’s worth noting that, while continuing to put all the blame on Warner, some South Africans professed to be appalled by the SBW masks.

To return to the Falzon-SBW encounter: he was in a relationship yet got away relatively unscathed; she’d had a succession of short-lived relationships with well-known sportsmen. If she was a male, she would’ve been called a “ladies’ man” or something similarly complimentary. But she was a woman, so there were media references to her “insatiable love life”. I’ll leave you to decode that.

For years, Warner and his wife have had to put up with abuse – the Barmy Army has a charming chant that goes, “Davy Warner’s over the hill/He came second to Sonny Bill” – that is, at its core, slut-shaming. De Kock and his defenders aren’t the only ones who owe them an apology.

This article was first published in the March 24, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

How to eat a New Zealand forest, and other secrets
108277 2019-07-18 00:00:00Z Planet

How to eat a New Zealand forest, and other secrets…

by Sally Blundell

Our native forests provide food and natural medicines, support jobs, hinder erosion and play a major role in climate-change mitigation.

Read more
Simon Bridges searches for a miracle
108491 2019-07-17 00:00:00Z Politics

Simon Bridges searches for a miracle

by Graham Adams

The opposition leader hoped to pick up election-winning tips in Australia.

Read more
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela on the tragedy of post-apartheid South Africa
108416 2019-07-17 00:00:00Z Profiles

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela on the tragedy of post-apa…

by Clare de Lore

Scathing critic of South African Government corruption Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, here to give a public lecture, has insights about forgiveness after...

Read more
Writer Robert Macfarlane finds deeps truths in Underland
108287 2019-07-17 00:00:00Z Books

Writer Robert Macfarlane finds deeps truths in Und…

by Tony Murrow

In a new book, Robert Macfarlane heads underground to ponder mankind’s effect on the planet.

Read more
Why extra virgin olive oil is back on the menu for frying
108203 2019-07-17 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Why extra virgin olive oil is back on the menu for…

by Jennifer Bowden

For decades, the word in the kitchen has been that olive oil shouldn’t be used for frying, but new research could change that.

Read more
Abstract artist Gretchen Albrecht's true colours
108108 2019-07-16 00:00:00Z Profiles

Abstract artist Gretchen Albrecht's true colours

by Linda Herrick

Gretchen Albrecht paintings may be intangible, but they are triggered by real-life experience, she tells Linda Herrick.

Read more
That's a Bit Racist is playful, but it packs a punch
108435 2019-07-16 00:00:00Z Television

That's a Bit Racist is playful, but it packs a pun…

by Diana Wichtel

The taboo-busting doco is trying to change our default settings on race, but some people aren't stoked.

Read more
Are there too many tourists in NZ?
108444 2019-07-16 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Are there too many tourists in NZ?

by North & South

Here's what's inside North and South's August 2019 issue.

Read more