As he climbed the ladder of his career, before slipping all the way back down, David Warner collected nicknames like he collected runs: Lloyd, Cannon, Mario, Bull and, just two summers ago, the Reverend.
Add this one to the list: The Clam.
Warner simply refuses to open up — even if he could earn as much as $1 million from an exclusive book deal to reveal all about Sandpaper-gate.
The exiled Test opener has been inundated with requests from media outlets wanting him to break his silence since the other members of the Cape Town Three — Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith — fumbled their way through Fox Sports interviews aired on day one of the Boxing Day Test.
At the head of the queue is Andrew Denton, the Michael Parkinson of Australian television, who wants Warner in the chair for his Channel Seven show Interview.
Book publishers are already circling, too. Industry insiders estimate he could attract the same $1 million advance that his former teammate, Michael Clarke, was paid for his autobiography.
Cricket tomes are the blue-chip investments in sports book publishing but it’s a fickle business. Popularity means more than the juiciness of the story. Clarke’s book was raw and compelling but didn’t sell anywhere near the 100,000-or-so copies that Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting did.
Regardless, Warner has some story to tell given the unanswered questions surrounding what happened in the third Test against South Africa at Newlands last March.
There’s a strong belief in cricket and publishing circles that he’ll expose exactly who knew what about the clandestine plot when his career is over.
We’re not so sure.
It's not commonly known but Warner’s public persona is being carefully pieced back together by leading sports manager James Erskine, who took over Warner’s affairs just before Christmas at the request of Warner’s wife, Candice. It is Warner’s second change in management in just over a year.
Erskine counts the likes of Muhammad Ali, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Shane Warne as former clients. He's close friends with the real Michael Parkinson, and three years ago set up the interview in which Ian Thorpe revealed his homosexuality.
Erskine isn't just navigating Warner's return to the Test side. He's also crafting his image and brand beyond that.
He had some simple advice before the Bancroft and Smith interviews were aired: “Let your bat do the talking”.
The Clam has remained firmly shut ever since. Instead, Warner has been quietly rebuilding bridges with his former teammates away from the public’s eye.
It’s been easy for some to suggest he doesn’t have the support of sections of the dressing-room but this, as this column understands it, has been overblown. Some of the same people in that dressing-room know too well that Warner has shouldered too much of the responsibility for what happened in Cape Town.
Let's ask the nagging questions yet again: Was he really the sole conspirator? The only one who knew? Was the ball fiddled with for one session in one Test and the South African broadcaster just so happened to pick up on that one moment of madness involving Bancroft?
Instead, Warner continues to maintain a dignified silence. Australians can’t cop a cheat – but they have even less time for a snitch.
Right now, Warner is more concerned about playing for his country. He left earlier this week to play in the Bangladesh Premier League, where his bat will talk, exclusively, to the ball.
Bolly good time had by all
SPOTTED: Anushka Sharma, the Bollywood actress and film producer wife of Indian captain Virat Kohli, brushed the plush surrounds of the Trust Suite to watch the first day of the Sydney Test from the other side of the ground.
Notable attendees in the Trust suite included NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and former prime minister John Howard. (The current one for now, Scott Morrison, will be there on Saturday for the Jane McGrath Day).
Test legends Steve Waugh and Greg Chappell were also in attendance, along with the legendary Alan “Davo” Davidson, 89, who was making his first appearance at the cricket since suffering a broken leg last year.
But the best fun was to be had – apparently – in the private suites in the O’Reilly Stand. That’s where you would find, in the box belonging to racehorse owner Max Whitby, a tanned and svelte Mark Taylor and veteran agent John Fordham.
Back in the day, the Winfield Cup was so very, very rugby league. It was heavy. It promoted cigarettes. And it was actually a trophy, not a cup.
The beloved premiership whatever-it-is from the 1980s and '90s has found itself in the middle of an ugly spat between the NRL and the NSWRL.
It currently resides behind glass in the NRL Museum at Moore Park along with other important memorabilia, including the Jersey Flegg trophy and JJ Giltinan Shield.
When the NSWRL had trouble getting its hands briefly on the Flegg trophy late last year, a volley of angry emails, including a threat to smash down the glass and take it anyway, ensued.
So very, very rugby league.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Mitchell Starc takes a sip of water. Now he wipes his hands on a towel ...” — Thought the dead-as-a-doornail MCG pitch prepared for the Boxing Day Test made for tough viewing? Try being ABC caller Alison Mitchell, who did an outstanding job filling airtime late on day two.
Roger Federer using a selfie stick to take a pic with Serena Williams after their mixed doubles match at the Hopman Cup makes me want to consider using a selfie stick for the first time. That is the power of Federer right there: he makes the use of a selfie stick seem quite acceptable.
“It was all about entertainment!” declared Floyd Mayweather before his exhibition boxing bout with Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa. “We had a lot of fun!” Yes, 140 seconds of fun in which Nasukawa was floored three times before his corner threw in the towel. Awesome stuff, for both sports.
It’s a big weekend for … the Sydney Sixers, who meet the Hobart Hurricanes in a top-of-the-table clash with the Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena. Because too much BBL is never enough, apparently.
It’s an even bigger weekend for … the Socceroos. They start their Asian Cup defence when they met Jordan at Hazza Bid Zayed Stadium on Sunday night. Big test for Graham Arnold in his first season as coach.