WARNER’S SLEDGE MELTDOWN
Warner walks off field after Phil Hughes taunt
EXILED batsman David Warner walked off the field mid-innings yesterday after being sledged over the death of cricketer Phil Hughes. It is understood the team believes the comments, which included calling him “a disgrace” and “weak”, came from Hughes’s brother, Jason, who was fielding during a Sydney grade cricket match. One witness claimed to have heard a direct reference to Phil Hughes’ 2014 death. But it is understood Warner may not have heard the exact words. Jason Hughes last night declined to comment. Friends of Warner said there was a vibe of hatred towards him during the match, and Warner was distressed at being verbally attacked. He left the field to defuse the situation. Although the exchange was not heated, Warner was “consider- ably hurt” and left the field, telling the umpires he was “removing himself from the game”.
Play halted for three minutes while Warner stayed in the dressing room and was consoled by Randwick-Petersham first-grade manager Bill Anderson.
Anderson said Warner, who was 35 not out while batting for Randwick-Petersham against Western Suburbs, was visibly distressed.
“He was very disappointed and hurt that something had been said to him that he took great offence at,” Anderson said.
“He felt what had been said was very offensive to him but he realised that he had to play. He turned around and back out he went.
“He wasn’t teary. But you could tell he had been quite affected by that. It wasn’t a heated exchange. It was something said in close range.”
On November 25, 2014, Warner was fielding when Phil Hughes was hit by a bouncer bowled by Sean Abbott during a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG. Hughes, 25, from Macksville, later died from his injuries.
At the inquest, Warner said he did not hear sledging during the match. The NSW coroner didn’t make a formal recommendation regarding sledging but pondered “why such a beautiful game would need such an ugly underside”.
Anderson said Warner, the former Australian vice-captain, had not confided in him about what had left him so rattled yesterday.
Warner was allowed by the umpires to return to the field despite the general rule that if a player leaves he cannot return.
Warner and ex-Australian skipper Steve Smith are serving a 12month suspension from first-class cricket over ball-tampering in South Africa in March.
David Warner walks from the field after allegedly being sledged by Jason Hughes (below, left). Inset: Warner with his wife, Candice.