Warner’s incredible off-field confrontation with Quinton de Kock has overshadowed Australia’s series-opening victory in Durban, with the ill feeling set to continue when the second Test starts in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Footage emerged on Monday of an enraged Warner being restrained by teammates at tea on day four of the first Test. Warner was furious about personal remarks made by de Kock, believed to be about Warner’s wife Candice.
A he said/she said narrative has since broken out over the spat, with captains Faf du Plessis and Steve Smith disagreeing over whether de Kock was subject to any personal sledging.
“Warner is the type of guy where if things are going well for Australia he’s got a big mouth, but when they’re losing he doesn’t say too much,” Harris told AAP.
“When he says something and someone comes back at him – then he gets upset. That’s pretty much all the characteristics of a bully.
“There’s always a common denominator in these sort of things and it seems to be Warner.
“Speaking to a few of the players, they really don’t give a s**t about what he says. They’re just like, well he’s quite personal so we’re going to come back at him and see how he takes it.
“I know Quinton de Kock quite well and he won’t take things lying down. If someone’s having a crack at him, he’ll have a go back.”
Harris, who featured in 37 Tests and was part of the first post-apartheid South African squad to win a Test series in Australia, never played against Warner.
But he noted former teammates are well aware of the aggressive opener’s conduct.
“I know, speaking to a couple of the guys, that he does tend to get quite personal with the way he abuses players,” Harris said.
“I’ve heard from South African players that he can sometimes be quite personal … if you’re going to do that you must be able to take it back, and it doesn’t look like he takes it back to well.
“The South Africans haven’t moaned about it at all during the Test.”
Harris was full of praise for the way Australia played at Kingsmead, saying Mitchell Starc’s reverse-swing masterclass should be in the headlines rather than Warner’s rampage.
“It’s a bit of a dampener on the fact they played such good cricket,” he said.
Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith, who is calling the ongoing Test series for South African TV, suggested on Twitter that “Warner crossed many personal boundaries with the South Africans, so we can’t be surprised when there is eventually a reaction”.
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