David Warner’s fractious relationship with the Australian cricket board over captaincy ban continues to boil over. The infamous 2018 ball tampering incident was the trigger for the initial ban. Then captain Steven Smith and young opener Cameron Bancroft too were banned at the time for different lengths of time.
Steve Smith alongside Warner received a captaincy ban. However, in the Australian summer of 2021 when Pat Cummins was made the skipper of the Australian test side Smith was made the Vice Captain.
When the question of involving Warner back in the leadership group arose a whole new controversy has arisen again. Warner is set to play his 100th Test on the Boxing Day game against South Africa.
What has Warner said now?
“Leading into the Perth Test, my mental health probably wasn’t where I needed it to be at to be 100 per cent. And that was challenging at the time. If I had it my way we would have had it all sorted. From the CA point of view, I didn’t really have any support.
“My teammates and the staff in our team were absolutely amazing, and my family and friends – they really got me through that period. We reached out in February. So we have no idea how it went on this far and only CA can answer that and they’ll probably give you the same thing that they always give everyone else, they don’t really give an answer.
“I will have that conversation [with CA] once the series is done. For me, it’s about staying in the right frame of mind to take on the South Africans. I’m pumped to play another Boxing Day Test and more importantly we’ve got a series that’s on the line.”
What is going on between Warner and Cricket Australia?
Earlier this year Australian white ball skipper Aaron Finch announced his retirement. Shoutouts for making David Warner the skipper by former players started.
As a process, the first change the CA did to give Warner a chance is by changing the code of conduct in 2018 that had stated that a player cannot appeal the punishment that has been accepted by him. However in November this year, it was rewritten as a player can appeal a long-term sanction.
Warner said when the code was amended that “I think it’s just about being fair that at the end of the day, I’m not a criminal. You should get a right of appeal at some stage,”
Warner appealed and withdrew his case for being involved in the leadership group. The reason behind his withdrawal was that the review panel decided to hold a hearing in public. Whereas the initial setup was where Warner could present his case to a three-person independent panel privately.
The left-hander slammed the process by taking to social media platforms “They want to conduct a public spectacle to, in the Panel’s words, have a “cleansing”. “I am not prepared for my family to be the washing machine for cricket’s dirty laundry.” he said.
Warner’s manager’s claims about sandpaper gate
Warner’s manager James Erskine made eye-opening revelations about the scandal.
Erskine claimed the players got a go-ahead from two of the executives from the board after a test match loss against South Africa in Hobart in 2016.
Erskine claimed that the executives were berating the team after losing the game to which Warner responded by saying ‘We’ve got to reverse-swing the ball. ‘The only way we can reverse-swing the ball is by tampering with it.’.
“He (Warner) has shut up, he protected Cricket Australia, he protected his fellow players … because at the end of the day no one wanted to hear any more of it and he’s got on playing cricket,” Erskine added.
What happened in Cape Town in 2018?
The four-match test series was levelled at 1-1 against South Africa. During the third day of the game, the TV Camera caught the Australian opener, Cameron Bancroft using sandpaper to rough up the ball to enable it to reverse swing.
After the day’s play skipper Steven Smith and Bancroft admitted that the ball was tampered. “Shocking disappointment” said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to CA and urged them to take strict action as possible.
CA responded by launching its investigation following which they banned Smith and Warner for 12 months, while the young Bancroft was handed a nine-month suspension. CA then declared that Warner will not be considered for “team leadership positions in the future”
Former cricketers to the rescue of Warner
Australian legendary captain Ian Chappell supported Warner’s decision to withdraw the appeal. He praised Warner for exposing the authorities. “tendencies for back-side protecting” he said. Chappell further went on to say “Young players should be thankful Warner has exposed CA’s tendencies for back-side protecting. They need to keep it in mind for the future.” in his ESPNCricinfo column.
Former Australian skipper Micheal Clarke too came to the rescue of Warner.
“I see it as very inconsistent. I find it very hard to believe it’s okay for one but not okay for the other to have a leadership role. If CA decided all the guys involved in what went down in South Africa, none of them was going to play a leadership role, I think that’s a fair call.” Clarke said.
Have off-field issues showing on-field?
Since the captaincy debate started during the T20 World Cup Warner has been on and off. He scored 42 runs from four games in the tournament. However, he had a good ODI series against the inexperienced English bowling attack scoring 208 runs at an average of 69.33 from three games.
Since the controversy heated up in late November and early December Warner’s form has taken a significant dip, especially in red-ball cricket.
In the series against West Indies, Warner scored 102 runs at an average of 25.50. In the marquee series against South Africa, the southpaw registered the second golden duck of his career in the first test at Gabba in Brisbane. In the second innings chasing just 35 runs he was dismissed for 3.
“Yeah my back’s up against the wall, but it’s in my DNA to keep being competitive, come out here with a smile on my face and take on whatever opposition we’re going to face,” he said.
Be it a bar fight with English talisman Joe Root in Birmingham in 2015 or an off-field brawl caught on CCTV with South Africa’s retired test cricketer Quinton De Cock in Durban in 2018, he has always been in the limelight for both the right reasons and the wrong reasons.
In his book, South African former Test captain Faf Du Plessis called Warner a “bully”.