The brotherhood: Why Warner will be forever silent about Sandpapergate
There was a quiet and simmering expectation that David Warner would eventually reveal the truth about Cape Town sometime after he retired. Now that he has retired, there still is the expectation.
His manager, James Erskine, has always hinted a book deal in the offering where Warner would tell all. Warner himself has been quite cryptic on it when asked.
He’s never formally said, “Yes, I will tell all,” and he’s never actually shut the door on it either, sometimes just deflecting the question or, as recently as a few days ago, suggesting it wasn’t in his immediate plans to do so but maybe in the future.
I don’t think we’re ever going to hear his version of it. Sure, if the book covers those topics, he would make a killing in sales and promo tour of it. But that would be short-term financial gain, up. against longer-term financial and reputational issues, which will matter more for him. So, these are three reasons why he will be silent.
1. No one would believe him either way
Warner could either tell the absolute unvarnished truth, or he could do what most politicians do in their memoirs and just plainly create an entirely fictionalised version of events. Either way, it’s unlikely a majority of the public would believe either story and the scepticism will ultimately rule out and people will just simply conclude his story to be one of many competing versions of truth.
And eventually, the bowlers (if it’s the bowlers that get named by Warner), will respond and chuck in their own recollection of events. All of a sudden, Warner’s becomes just one version, and not canon.
A famous example is the Kirribilli agreement between Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in 1988. They even ensured two witnesses would be there. The result: four astonishingly different versions of the truth. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have entirely different views of the night Rudd was knifed, as do Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. Who do you believe?
You believe who you want and you don’t believe the others. The result? No remotely conclusive determining of what had happened. If Warner is aiming to make money and correct the record, he will only ever do the former.
2. He would never cross the picket line
The Professional Cricketers Association, much like the RLPA or the AFLPA, is more than just a union. It’s a brotherhood. It’s borderline masonic. They would never rat on each other. No matter what level of enmity exists between two sportsmen, that unless you want to cop the severe consequences of doing so, never, ever throw the other under the bus.
Assuming that the rumour that the bowlers were all involved in the ball tampering was true, why is it only Warner who people will believe will spill the beans?
Steve Smith hasn’t. Cameron Bancroft has offered some highly cryptic comments, but when push has come to shove has never gone on record and named names (but it’s more because Bancroft is a hopeless media performer, rather than a snitch, that he says such things).
Look at dozens of AFL and NRL judiciary cases. The victim almost never testifies in the judiciary. Take Tyson Gamble in the NRL in 2023. He was bitten by Jack Wighton. He raised a bit of a stink in the heat of the moment during the match, but then immediately after started to water down the incident and decline to testify at the judiciary.
He should have. It was plain to see. But he was never going to do something that would have added more weeks to Wighton’s ticket. You never cross the picket line. You never rat on your professional colleagues.
3. He would kill off his future cricket employment opportunities
Linked to point 2. If he crosses the picket line and throws the bowlers under the bus he will have permanently ruined any chance of being a coach of a T20 franchise (which he has publicly indicated he wants to be), and indeed even long-term commentary deals.
The players are a united front. Even if what was said by Warner was 100 per cent truth, it would be seen as the most egregious betrayal and no player would ever want to be in the same room as him because he would irrevocably lost their trust.
Once more, you never cross the picket line. Some secrets, some injustices (if one exists in this instance) just need to stay with you for life. Look at how swiftly Mitchell Johnson has found himself on the outer for expressing a controversial opinion against players.
Warner would sell a lot of books, but he would also sell off his credibility amongst the cricketing fraternity.
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So, Warner’s truth of the incident is likely to be taken to his grave. It’s probably quite unfair and he would feel aggrieved that deep down he won’t ever get the chance to clear his name (if his name could be cleared) in the court of public opinion, but weighed against jeopardising his future place in the game, silence is golden.