A bizarre hoax from David Warner seemed to fool everyone on Tuesday and left Australia's assistant coach Daniel Vettori in a very awkward position during a press conference. Under-fire opener Warner posted a number of photos on social media apparently showing him in Bali with his family.
The 36-year-old had posted photos on Instagram of himself on a plane with his children and the caption "My current situation. Bali here we come". He also posted a shot from Rock Bar in Bali of him seemingly enjoying some champagne.
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The photos had a December 19 timestamp on them, raising eyebrows around the cricket world about why Warner would be jetting off overseas in the middle of a blockbuster Test series against South Africa. But it soon became apparent that Warner was not in Bali after all and he was simply playing a joke on a friend who was in the tourist destination.
Midway through Vettori's press conference, he was left rattled by a question about Warner being in Bali. A journalist asked: "Looking at Instagram, Davey is over in Bali. Is that ideal preparation, and could that refresh him?".
Vettori was rather taken aback and asked: "Is that true?" A Cricket Australia official piped up to say he doubted Warner was overseas, however the questions kept coming.
But not long after the press conference finished Warner put to bed the rumours. He posted on Instagram: "For those who are concerned I'm currently walking Coogee beach ... and will be heading to the grocery store after. Until then stay tuned".
Daniel Vettori backs David Warner to find form
Warner, who hasn't scored a Test century since January 2020, made 0 and 3 in the first Test against South Africa. His average is just 21 over the last 12 months. But Vettori, who played 113 Tests for New Zealand, said Warner will draw on all his experience to come through his rough trot.
"It is just the consistency of preparation, and understanding that is what happens," Vettori said. "That is why a player plays 100 Tests, because they can deal with the ups and downs of cricket.
"Davey has performed as well as anyone in world cricket for an extended period of time. These times when it does become a bit tough, there is a focus on it, but the great players deal with it pretty well."
Aussie selector George Bailey also threw his support behind Warner last week. He said: "I think the way Davey plays, I don't think that's going to be replaced. I don't think we'll be looking to replace David Warner, but I think we've got some strong candidates waiting in the wings to bat at the top of the order for Australia."
Bailey said it was hard to read into the form of any batter after 34 wickets fell in less than two days of play in Brisbane. It marked the shortest Test match on Australian soil in 91 years.
"David would be the first to say this, he'd like a few more runs and to be contributing a bit more, knowing the importance of that role at the top of the order," Bailey said. "But (I have) full confidence that will come."
Speaking during the Gabba Test, Aussie legend Ricky Ponting said Warner needed to dictate how his career in Test cricket finishes. After three Tests against South Africa, the Aussies will head to India for a four-match series in February before the Ashes in England in June.
"He is going through a lean trot now - we all want to see him scoring runs. When he finishes, he deserves to go out on his term. He has been a magnificent stalwart for Australian cricket," Ponting said.
"He got the starts against the West Indies and didn't go on when everyone else at the top made the most of a weak West Indian side. He deserves the chance to finish the way he wants to finish. I would hate to see him get to an Indian tour or at the start of the Ashes tour and then get the tap on the shoulder. That would be a disappointing way for his career to end."
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