He’s one of the most controversial Aussie cricketers in years following the ball tampering scandal, but now fans have reacted in shock as David Warner was reportedly forced to walk off the field mid-game to compose himself following an alleged sledging incident.
According to spectators and reporters in the crowd, who shared live photos throughout on social media, the 32-year-old sportsman walked off temporarily following a very “personal” insult, before returning to the game shortly after – something that is usually against the rules.
Warner made 157 for Randwick-Petersham against Western Suburbs at Pratten Park in the game – successfully scoring his second century of the NSW Premier Cricket season. However, the great success was overshadowed by what has been described as a “sledging incident” – when a player seeks to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating an opposing player.
Weirdness in Sydney Grade cricket. Dave warner, on 35, just walked off the field in the middle of the over. Told the umpire “I’m removing myself from the game”. Apparently it was because of a sledge. He walked off, then came back out to bat 2 mins later. #Cricket pic.twitter.com/jX0lihgLxU
— Brendan Bradford (@1bbradfo) October 27, 2018
Cricket Australia and multiple other reports claim it happened after he was seen exchanging words with Jason Hughes, the brother of Warner’s close friend Phillip Hughes who tragically died in 2014 – two days after being struck in the neck with a ball.
While neither player have confirmed exactly what was said, Cricket Australia claimed what began as simple goading then turned “nasty” and personal. Meanwhile, the Mail Online reports Hughes called Warner a “disgrace” – but that is yet to be confirmed.
Phillip Hughes died just two days after being struck on the top of the neck while playing for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales in Sydney in 2014. Warner was close friends with him at the time and was playing in the same game when it happened.
Fans shared their shock online over the incident, with one writing on Twitter: “Not a huge Warner fan but can imagine that a sledge coming from the brother of your friend who’s head you cradled on that awful day might cut pretty deep. We all talk about mental health awareness but are so quick to judge.”
While another added: “Apparently Jason Hughes (brother of Phil) was the one that made the sledge. Not sure about the contents of the sledge.”
Warner previously opened up about the tragedy on 60 Minutes, saying at the time: “When I got home after that day I was standing in the shower and I was sort of facing the wall with my hands on my head going: ‘Why’.”
Becoming emotional, he added: “The thought of coming off that day (at the SCG) holding his hand was…”
While the laws of the game state a player cannot return once they have left the field of play, opposing side Western Suburbs allowed it on this occasion.
It comes after Warner was banned from international and state cricket in March after a ball-tampering scandal.
Under the conditions of their 12-month bans, Warner and Steve Smith can play in local competitions.