When David Warner turned to the Edgbaston crowd on day four of the Ashes First Test and showed he had nothing in his pockets he may have been laughing about sandpaper, but could well have been talking about runs.
After a stellar World Cup in which he scored 638 runs over nine innings, Warner’s return to Test cricket has been far less prolific with scores of two and eight of a mere 24 balls.
It is the 32-year-old’s poorest effort in an Ashes Test and stands in contrast to fellow suspended Steve Smith’s triumphant return with match-saving innings’ of 144 and 142.
Warner took much of the heat for the ball-tampering scandal and has clearly returned as a visibly more affable and less-imposing team figure.
It’s hard to imagine Warner pre-Cape Town failing to review the Stuart Broad lbw that saw him off in the first innings.
As it turned out, the umpire’s decision would have been overturned.
That frustration was only made worse when in his second innings the third umpire overturned a not out on-field decision after footage showed he’d edged a Broad delivery into the gloves of Jonny Bairstow.
Despite those travails Warner has been in good humour, bantering with the home fans in the Hollies Stand at Edgbaston who sang chants including “He’s got sandpaper in his pants”.
Warner got cheers from the crowd when he turned out his pockets to show they were empty.
Despite the lean return at Birmingham, Australia quick James Pattinson told AAP Warner remained in good spirits.
“The good thing with Davy he is just the same person whether he is scoring runs or not,” Pattinson said.
He is always bubbly around the team and obviously with everything that is going on with the crowd he seems to cope with it pretty fine.
“That is the type of person he is. He is all about the team and it doesn’t matter if he is getting runs or whether he doesn’t. He is always up and about the dressing room.”
The other scandal-tainted returnee Cameron Bancroft has also struggled, scoring two and seven, in his digs.
Off-spinner Moeen Ali dismissed Bancroft for seven in his second visit to the crease after he prodded the ball into the grateful hands of short-leg fielder Jos Buttler.
Smith’s second innings of 142 effectively ended England hopes of winning the game and again raised questions of when he may return to the role of captain.
Smith maintains he is, for the moment, happy to just lead with the bat.
“It (the Test captaincy) is certainly not on my radar at the moment,” Smith said.
“It’s just about going out there and doing my job as a batsman and scoring runs.
“Of course, I’m experienced now and able to help in any way that I can.
“(Tim Paine) knows I’m there to help him and give him some suggestions and things like that as much as I can.
“If I see something, I’ll always go to him and try and help for the betterment of the team.”