Australian captain Michael Clarke insists he has never called on combative opening batsman David Warner to be the team’s chief sledger.
Outwardly, Warner has revelled in his role as Australia’s on-field enforcer – a role in which he has occasionally overstepped the mark, and last summer leading to him being twice found guilty of code-of-conduct breaches by the ICC.
He was fined 50 per cent of his match fee after he told Indian batsman Rohit Sharma to speak English during last summer’s one-day series.
But the combative batsman last week admitted he wanted to change his ways and move away from being the instigator.
“In the past, I’ve been someone who’s been told to go out there and do this and do that but, at the end of the day, I’ve got to look after myself, and that’s what everyone does,” Warner told ESPN Cricinfo.
“If I don’t want to be that instigator, I don’t have to be that instigator.”
However, Clarke categorically stated on Sunday neither he nor coach Darren Lehmann had ever given Warner instructions to verbal his opponents and get under their skin although he confirmed his team had a licence to do so, if they chose to.
“As captain of Davey, I can guarantee I have certainly never asked him to go and sledge somebody, and I think I can speak for the coach as well, that he certainly has never done that,” Clarke said.
“The environment I try to create around this group is I want players to try to play the way they feel they play their best cricket.
“So for me, being sledged or sledging somebody else has never really impacted me.
“It’s never really affected me if I’ve copped it and it’s never really helped me if I’ve opened my big mouth.
“If that’s how I play my best cricket, that’s what I want to do. If someone like Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden or Steve Waugh feel they get benefit out of talking to a batter when they’re fielding, or Warney when he’s bowling, that’s for them as well.
“Davey’s his own man; he’s a 28-year-old grown man; he’ll make his own choices – I want to see him perform as good as he possibly can.
“If he feels like he has said a lot through his career and he wants to say less, if that helps his game, I’m all for it.”
Meanwhile, Clarke believed there would be no repeat of the ugly scenes which caused such outrage the last time these nations clashed during the 5-0 drubbing two years ago.
Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fee for a confrontation with England’s James Anderson in the opening Test match at the Gabba when he famously warned the fast bowler to get ready for a broken arm.
He insists this time around the cricket will be played in the right spirit.
He does, however, accept that both teams will head-butt the line, even if they won’t cross it.
“I’m confident the Ashes will be played in the right spirit. Both teams will play hard,” Clarke said.
“We respect that there’s a line you can’t cross. Both teams might head-butt that line but I’m confident we won’t overstep the mark.
“I think that’s how we play our best. I think it’s a big part of the Australian way, but I think you also need to keep in mind there’s a line and not overstep that.
“As captain, I’ll make sure I lead the way on that front and I’m sure the boys will certainly follow.”