Warner was pinpointed by Cricket Australia as the instigator of the Newlands ball-tampering plot, and there were testy scenes in Cape Town in the days after the match, as CA’s integrity officer Iain Roy conducted interviews with a selection of players and coaching staff before code of conduct charges were laid.
At the time, Warner was described as “going rogue” and being at odds with the rest of the team over what had occurred and who knew of the attempt to rough up the ball with the use of sandpaper. At the same time his stocks with CA’s management and board had sunk to a level where it looked unlikely that he could reconcile. On his return home to Australia, Warner acknowledged that his days as an international cricketer may well be at an end.
“It is heart-breaking to know that I will not be taking the field with my team-mates I love and respect and that I have let down,” Warner said. “Right now, it is hard to know what comes next, but first and foremost is the well-being of my family. In the back of my mind, I suppose there is a tiny ray of hope that I may one day be given the privilege of playing for my country again, but I am resigned to the fact that that may never happen.
“But in the coming weeks and months, I’m going to look at how this has happened and who I am as a man. To be honest, I’m not sure right now how I’ll do this. I will seek out advice and expertise to help me make serious changes.”
A little more than two months after the saga unfolded, there has been a concerted softening of attitudes towards the suspended players, Warner included, while the former coach Darren Lehmann has been given a chance to coach young players at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
His successor, Justin Langer, and the chief executive James Sutherland, have both suggested that there is a way back to the team for Warner, and Paine joined the chorus on Thursday by rejecting the notion that Steven Smith’s ex-deputy remained at odds with the rest of the South Africa touring party. Warner, Langer and Paine all share the same manager – Ricky Ponting’s longtime agent James Henderson.
“No, he wasn’t [ostracised by the group] actually,” Paine told reporters in Hobart on Thursday. “Certainly the week in South Africa was very difficult and everyone said that, but guys in that team get along well and David is a respected member of that team and always has been. For as long as I’ve been around the team, he’s been really well-liked and really well-received by his teammates. Within our team, he’s someone with that energy and that competitiveness who we love playing with.
“All three [Warner, Smith, Cameron Bancroft] are certainly going to be welcomed back into our team, if they’re prepared to toe the line with our new brand of cricket, which I know they will. I know they’ll all do the right thing and score enough runs to be back in our side and they’ll be certainly be welcomed back.
Paine, who charted a new path for the national team that would dispense with the sledging and unsociable attitude to opponents that characterised most Australian sides over the past 30 years, said he had discussed the new direction with Langer. “Justin and I are certainly on the same page with the way we want it to look,” he said. “There’s just going to be a fine line between being still a really competitive, hard, Australian cricket team and being able to be a bit more respectful of our opposition and the game.”