Nine has misread the room in signing Warner
IT'S a bit of a talent to be able to read the room.
And yesterday we discovered Channel 9's Wide World of Sports don't have it when they failed the pub test on suspended Australian cricketer David Warner.
Nine has given the swashbuckling opener a place in the commentary box for its coverage of Australia's One Day series against England, in England, with Warner calling the action of the second match at Cardiff this Saturday. It's a howler.
Warner is not playing in this series because he's suspended for 12 months for his role in the ball tampering saga in South Africa which rocked international cricket back in March. He has also been barred from holding any leadership role for the rest of his career.
Maybe I'm a harsh marker, but for me, it's too soon to be hearing insights and tactics from the man who instigated the cheating scandal, Australian cricket's darkest day.
It's silly to suggest the 31-year-old father of two shouldn't be allowed to work or must be banished out of the public eye during the ban and that certainly won't be the case.
The year-long suspension doesn't extend to overseas domestic leagues or Australian Premier Cricket competitions which will see him return to the crease with the Winnipeg Hawks in the inaugural Global T20 tournament in Canada later this month then the Northern Territory Strike League in July. Warner and suspended team mates Steve Smith and Cam Bancroft should consider themselves fortunate their sanctions weren't a blanket ban and they can still play and earn a living while suspended.
Nine's director of sport Tom Malone yesterday defended Warner, and the network's decision, via a statement.
"Dave is the best one-day and T20 batsman of the past decade so he's perfectly placed to join our coverage for the UK series," Malone said.
"People have tried to paint Dave as the villain in all this, but he's been hurting as much as the others.
"We've had a professional relationship with Dave for five years now we've always found him to be a pretty normal and humble bloke. He just wants to atone for his mistakes and move on - I hope Australia gives all of them that chance."
Malone is spot on, Warner has been the premier limited overs batsman internationally for some time but he's only "perfectly placed" to join the coverage because he is banned from playing for his country because he cheated. Worse, as vice-captain of the national team he reportedly encouraged a less-experienced, younger team mate to cheat.
Twitter is not always the voice of reason but scrolling through tweets yesterday provided a timely reminder that cricket fans and every day Aussies are still very much reeling, hurt and betrayed by the scandal less than three months on.
Here's some of the replies to the tweet announcing the news:
"Good knowledge of the game. Why not? He didn't kill anyone."
"Won't be watching"
"Oh well that's one way to get the punters to turn off, well done 9"
"Totally misread the Aussie public's feeling towards this bloke"
"Disgrace won't be watching now"
"What a joke, makes a mockery of the whole ban."
"What did the memo say? Find me the last person people want to hear."
"For a sport that needs to win people back you don't have the guy that broke it do it."
Of course, Warner would be devastated by what's happened and the ban that followed but it's now up to him to earn back the trust and respect of so many, rebuild his life and earn the privilege of representing his country again, if that's what he wants to do.
If you do the crime you do the time but that time should not be served in the commentary box.