Dave Warner Is Smashing Steve Smith In The Public Relations Game
This is not to bag Steve Smith, but Dave Warner is playing brilliant cricket, and even smarter public relations right now.
You know what the left-handed opener did after he made a century last night in a player-of-the-match performance that steered Australia to victory over Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup?
He gave his prize -- a replica World Cup trophy in an engraved wooden box -- to a young Aussie fan. That's what. The kid didn't even ask for it.
"It’s really awesome. We were just waving the flag and he just came over and gave it to me," the kid told Pakistani reporter Zainab Abbas.
Warner did another thing overnight that made you feel warm and fuzzy about the man who was effectively the architect of the ball-tampering scandal of March, 2018.
Speaking to reporters after the win which moved Australia to second on the World Cup table with a 3-1 record, he praised the role of his family in his life.
"The thing that kept me going was my wife and my kids," Warner said. "I've got great support at home. And my wife is just... she's just my rock. She's unbelievable. She's determined, disciplined, selfless.
"I hold a lot of credit to her. She's a strong woman. And she got me out of bed a lot in those first 12 weeks, and got me back running and training as hard as I could."
After the ball-tampering scandal, both Smith and Warner thudded to earth in the public estimation. What happened next was interesting. As they both emerged in the public eye, returning to cricket at club level, they took different paths in terms of how they framed what had happened.
Smith actively crafted his public persona, doing interviews and even making a Vodafone ad which documented his emotional state during his recovery.
"I was in a pretty dark space," he said in the ad, which you can watch at the top of this story.
Warner said very little publicly during his 12-month ban. He would speak to reporters in the context of a club cricket match he was about to play, or had just played, but said almost nothing about his state of mind. His recovery was not a commodity to be profited from. It was a more private thing.
If this was a deliberate strategy from Warner's manager Roxy Jacenko -- a woman not known for shunning the spotlight -- then it was brilliant. Either way, it seemed the right path. There are times to let your actions talk, and times to use words.
While Smith took the verbal route, Warner chose actions. It paid dividends during his ban, when he came across as contrite, not contrived. And it's paying off now. Already since his return, Warner has top-scored in India's IPL, and now notched his first century for Australia.
Steve Smith? He got out for just 10 overnight, and earlier this week, did a plug for Vodafone on social media which struck many as inauthentic.
This is not to damn Steve Smith, a likeable and honourable person whose principle crime in South Africa 15 months ago was his failure to stop others.
But right now, Dave Warner is proving the old maxim that actions speak louder than words.