David Warner's audacious helicopter stunt went down like a lead balloon across the cricket world on Friday. The retired Test star copped a wave of backlash across social media over the decision to fly in a chopper from his brother's wedding in the Hunter Valley to play in what was effectively a dead rubber game for his side against Sydney rivals, the Sixers.
With the Thunder only a slim mathematical chance of being able to snatch a finals spot in the BBL playoffs, Warner's determination to be involved in the contest raised more than a few eyebrows. Many critics questioned why the 37-year-old didn't just stay at his brother's wedding and enjoy the reception and celebrations with his family on their special day.
Warner's lavish stunt ultimately turned the focus away from his brother and new sister-in-law's special day, and shifted it onto the veteran cricket star, who is already a polarising figure to many Aussie sporting fans. Then there is the issue of the actual cost to hire the chopper to whisk Warner from the Hunter Valley to the SCG - estimated to be close to $5000.
Reports David Warner didn't actually pay for chopper
The cricket star suggested before the match that he would pocket the cost of the helicopter flight that saw the 37-year-old touch down on the hallowed turf of his beloved SCG ground. However, reports from the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Mail claim that the $5000 cost was actually shared between Cricket Australia and the Sydney Thunder.
Plenty of critics were already questioning who was going to foot the bill for the extraordinary helicopter stunt, with the development sure to see the backlash around Warner pile up further. The sight of Sixers player Sean Abbott arriving on a hired bicycle just moments after Warner touched down couldn't have provided a more stark contrast to Warner's flashy entrance.
David Warner passes on $5000 bill to Cricket Australia and Sydney Thunder after making rockstar appearance by helicopter in Big Bash - and his team has no chance of making finals! pic.twitter.com/p98MKKpaVj
— The Gorilla 🦍 (@iGorilla19) January 13, 2024
The grand entry of two Australian super stars. David Warner arrives at the SCG in a helicopter 🚁. Meanwhile Sean Abbott arrives at the SCG by his cycle 😄😄#BBL13 #DavidWarner pic.twitter.com/3ONhbtz93Cpic.twitter.com/H45xkY2vyC
— Simple man (@ArbazAh87590755) January 12, 2024
That was worth leaving brother’s wedding and flying in by helicopter like a knob #BBL13
— Rich Chambers 🐎🏈🏏⛳️🎾🔥⚫️🔴 (@Chambosports) January 12, 2024
I'm so glad Warner flew in on a helicopter for that 37 off 39 #BBL13
— Click 🙂 (@ClickCollins) January 12, 2024
This is so cringe.
— Aaron (@thegypsysoul42) January 12, 2024
Who paid for David Warner's chopper ride?
Was it a marketing ploy from Sydney Thunder?
— AustralianPolitics (@NoSpinPolitics) January 12, 2024
— Gavin (@gavfitzgerald7) January 12, 2024
— Cricket Addictor (@AddictorCricket) January 12, 2024
David Warner's cameo in vain for Thunder
If the Thunder were seriously in the mix to seal a spot in the BBL finals, then perhaps some cricket fans could have excused Warner for the helicopter saga. His involvement failed to spark the struggling Sydney side though as the opener made 37 off 39 balls and the Thunder's faint finals hopes were officially extinguished in a lacklustre 19-run defeat.
Warner's pre-game helicopter spectacle was followed by a funny incident with long-time Test teammate and Sixers rival Steve Smith before the first ball. Warner was mic'd up for the coverage of the game and couldn't resist the chance to throw a few sledges Smith's way, before the 37-year-old's Test successor as opener fell to a first-ball duck.
The Sixers ended up posting 7/151 off their 20 overs after top-scorer Josh Philippe (47) laid the platform and middle order batter Jordan Silk (35) ensured his side would would set a competitive total. Retiring Sydney Sixers skipper Steve O'Keefe stole the limelight from Aussie greats Warner and Smith after a match-defining spell with the ball in what could be his final match at the SCG.
O'Keefe finished with the impressive figures of 3-13 - including the prized scalp of Warner to help bowl the Thunder out for a disappointing 132. The win locked the Sixers in for another post-season appearance and a win against Perth on Tuesday night could cement a runner-up finish and second chance in the finals, rather than an elimination match.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.