Melbourne: Australia all-rounder James Faulkner caused confusion about his sexuality on social media on Tuesday after he posted a picture of himself having dinner with "the boyfriend" before Cricket Australia later clarified it was a joke.
Faulkner, who turned 29 on Monday, shared a picture of himself at a restaurant with his mother and a male friend with his 339,000 followers on Instagram and wrote: "Birthday dinner with the boyfriend".
He also added the hashtag "#togetherfor5years".
The post drew over 20,000 "likes" and supportive comments from fellow international cricketers.
Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell wrote: "Happy birthday mate! Great courage."
Former Australia fast bowler Shaun Tait echoed the sentiment, posting: "Great courage mate, bet you feel better happy birthday."
Global media, including Britain`s Daily Mail and The Guardian, reported that Faulkner had become the first Australian cricketer to "come out".
Cricket Australia poured cold water on the reports, however, with a spokesman saying Faulkner had made a "joke" that was "taken out of context".
Faulkner was named man of the match at the World Cup final in Melbourne four years ago but has not played an international since a one-day game away to India in Oct. 2017.