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Tuesday July 23, 2024

Polarising Warner bows out with Australia World Cup exit

By AFP
June 26, 2024
Australias David Warner seen celebrating after a century in this undated image.— AFP/file
Australia's David Warner seen celebrating after a century in this undated image.— AFP/file 

SYDNEY: David Warner´s 15-year international career came to an anti-climactic end on Tuesday as Australia were dumped out of the T20 World Cup in excruciating fashion.

Australia and Warner could only watch on powerless as Afghanistan instead reached the semi-finals by beating Bangladesh by a nail-biting eight runs. Australia´s fate had hung in the balance after India defeated them by 24 runs in St. Lucia on a day of high drama.

The 37-year-old opening batsman Warner had always said the World Cup in the United States and Caribbean would be his farewell to international cricket.

He couldn´t have imagined going out quite like this. The combative Warner stood tall at the top of the Australian order ever since his international debut in January 2009, and as opening partners came and went.

He hangs up his pads as arguably Australia´s greatest three-format player. He is the country´s leading run-scorer in T20 cricket with 3,277 from 110 games. Warner exited a glittering 112-Test career in January after plundering 8,786 runs at an average of 44.60, with a strike rate of 70.19. His one-day exploits were equally impressive, crunching 6,932 runs from 161 matches.

Warner was also one of the most consistent slip fielders in the game, whose name was among the first on the team sheet. “He is probably our greatest-ever three-format player. He´ll be a loss,” Australia coach Andrew McDonald said recently.

“Other people have been gunning for him for a period of time, but for us internally, we´ve seen the great value and what he brings to the table, hence why we´ve kept picking him.” But for all his exploits on the pitch, Warner made enemies along the way and will forever be remembered for his key role in a notorious ball-tampering scandal in 2018.

Warner was seen as the chief plotter when Cameron Bancroft used sandpaper to scuff the ball before a crude attempt to conceal the evidence down his trousers during a Test in Cape Town.

Along with skipper Steve Smith, Warner was suspended for a year by Cricket Australia, stripped of the vice-captaincy and banned from ever leading the team.

Warner, who will continue to play T20 cricket in leagues around the world and will also be a commentator, admitted this month he would always be tarnished by “Sandpaper-gate”. “I think it´s going to be inevitable that when people talk about me in 20 or 30 years´ time, there will always be that sandpaper scandal,” he said.

He feels he has been unfairly singled out. “Whether it´s people who don´t like the Australian cricket team or don´t like me, I´ve always been that person who has copped it,” he added.

For that reason, Warner said he was looking forward to international retirement. “One can only absorb (so much),” he said. “For me, it´s great to go out knowing I´m not going to cop it anymore.”

Warner was always an assertive presence and his involvement in “Sandpaper-gate” was not a surprise to many. In June 2013, he was suspended and fined for punching England´s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar on the eve of the Ashes.

“I´m extremely remorseful. I have let my teammates, Cricket Australia, the fans, myself and my family down,” said Warner at the time. Two months earlier he was similarly contrite after an ugly Twitter spat with two Australian journalists.

Despite the controversies, he kept bouncing back. Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting said Warner was a tough competitor, but a different person off the field.

“I´ve heard a lot from Davey recently about people making judgements about him from the way they see him play his cricket,” he told reporters at the World Cup. “Once he´s retired and he makes that next step of life into the media, you´ll see a totally different side to him.”