No matter what trouble David Warner has managed to land himself in, his talent has always been his trump card.
It was his saviour during the Ashes, when his near double century in Africa rendered his nightclub fracas with Joe Root immediately forgiven and forgotten and saw him slot straight back into the team from which he had been exiled.
He could have used it chiming in again on Monday. In the circumstances a seven-ball duck at Bankstown Oval, where NSW was beaten by Victoria in a low-scoring Ryobi Cup affair by two wickets, was the last thing the Test opener needed.
Warner is back in the news for the wrong reasons, asked to explain to Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones in a meeting set for Tuesday why he did not follow the state’s instructions and turn out for his new club Randwick Petersham on Saturday.
It is not the world’s most heinous cricketing crime. He won’t have a contract torn up over it, and he may not even be fined. In some ways he has found himself inadvertently caught up in a broader plot: the drive by the recently installed NSW administration to ram home the importance of grade cricket and stem its decline.
They are making a statement and, in the process, an example of Warner.
It is expected NSW bosses will on Tuesday also quiz him on suggestions that rather than field for Randwick Petersham against Northern District, he followed his own net and fitness sessions by attending Epsom day at Randwick racecourse on Saturday.
If it were not Warner it would probably barely rate a mention but after the year he has had – from the pre-Ashes scuffle with Root, to a highly publicised showdown with a leading journalist on Twitter – it is another off-field drama the 26-year-old could have done without.
A big score for NSW that might have taken the heat off eluded him on Monday, chopping the Bushrangers’ Scott Boland on to his stumps early enough in the morning that national selector John Inverarity had not even arrived.
The Blues slumped to 3-19 and then 6-85 on another slow Bankstown wicket, but Ben Rohrer’s steady 63 from 91 balls, following captain Steve Smith’s 47 from 73 balls, led them to a more respectable 9-171 from their 50 overs.
It was not enough as Victoria, via 82 from former captain Cameron White and 50 from new skipper Matthew Wade, reached the target with two wickets and 25 runs in hand, despite the form of Doug Bollinger (2-25), Gurinder Sandhu (2-29) and Josh Hazlewood (2-41).
Meanwhile, George Bailey’s slamming of the new Ryobi Cup format was followed on Monday with Victorian White issuing his own criticism.
The Bushrangers are leading the tournament, played entirely in Sydney in a month-long block, but White voiced concerns with the reduction of matches and the impact of the schedule – it will be followed by each team playing six straight Sheffield Shield matches – on the fitness of fast bowlers.
”You create extra space in the draw by playing this at the start of the season but then you still play six four-day games before December 12,” White said. ”That to me is a lot of cricket in a short space of time if you’re a fast bowler.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.