David Warner insists that his relationship with Steven Smith is intact in the wake of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, and has echoed the former captain’s words that a 12-month ban from international cricket is the sort of imposed break from the game that he needed after seven years in a “bubble”.
A day after Smith made 61 on his return to cricket at the Global T20 Canada, Warner was bowled by Lasith Malinga second ball in a far briefer stint at the batting crease. But he professed to enjoying the run around the outfield for Winnipeg Hawks, and described the tournament as a small step forward on the road back from his role as the primary instigator of the Cape Town ball-tampering plot, where he instructed Cameron Bancroft on how to use sandpaper on the ball, with the tacit approval of Smith.
“It’s been a long three months, thinking that I probably wouldn’t be over here”
David Warner on playing cricket again
“It definitely has been [tough], not just for me but for my family, obviously the fans out there that support cricket and Australian cricket, so I’m responsible for that, that’s my fault and why I’ve had some tough times,” Warner said in Toronto. “But I’m an adult, I’m big, strong, I’ll move forward and keep continuing to move forward and making sure I’m doing the right things at the right times to keep playing the best cricket I can.
“Steve and me are good mates. If people hang in the hotel, they’ll see us hanging out with each other and stuff. At the end of the day, it was a big thing that happened and for us, you’ve got to handle it in your individual way and then how you handle it collectively. We haven’t really been able to catch up because he’s been away, Cameron’s been in Perth and I’ve been doing what I’m doing and got family at home. So it’s been hard, but this has been good, we’ve had numerous chats and I’m sure we’ll hang out plenty more, we’re in the same hotel.”
Another member of the Newlands team, Mitchell Starc, had described the way relationships in the team had been strained: “It was such a stressful time in our lives. There was strain on relationships both as individuals and as a team. However, the relationships of that group remain very much intact. I look forward to the opportunity to play alongside every one of my team-mates from that tour again. We still have a long way to go in rebuilding the trust with the Australian public and I know personally, that I am 100% committed to doing that.”
On his return home from South Africa, Warner had considered taking his Cricket Australia code-of-conduct sanction to a formal hearing before accepting his punishment alongside Smith and Bancroft. He said the ban, which has also seen him barred from taking any leadership positions in Australian cricket ever, had proven beneficial in allowing him more time at home. One of the flow-on effects was the cancelling of his IPL contract with Sunrisers Hyderabad, meaning Warner missed the tournament for the first time since its inaugural edition in 2008.
“Being at home for the last 12 weeks has been great for me,” Warner said. “There were a lot of mental scars after the Ashes and that probably saw my form [dip] and maybe [for] Steve as well in the one-day series against England. It takes a lot out of you, and moving onto South Africa and what happened, it was really tough. We’re responsible for that and we’re moving on. But to get back out here and play cricket is really good for us mentally. I was excited about the chance to come here and play, and to do what we love. Can’t sit at home and dwell on the past, you’ve got to move forward, and I felt this was a great opportunity to get out there, play cricket and be happy.
“To have my daughter on Facetime and say that she misses me and loves me and she wants to come over here and watch cricket, I’m excited that they want to get back into it as well”
“If you were stuck inside this tent for 365 days you’d probably go insane, so in the bubble we’ve been in for the last six or seven years, you need time out and I think this 12 months is going to be a good reflection upon myself as a person and a character, as a dad and a family man. The last 12 weeks have been tough, but it’s enabled me to spend a lot of time with my family, and that’s something I’ll always cherish every day. To have my daughter on Facetime and say that she misses me and loves me and she wants to come over here and watch cricket, I’m excited that they want to get back into it as well. It’s those things we miss.
“I’m extremely grateful for cricket and what it’s brought me; the game owes me nothing. To be here, I’m just so grateful for Canadian cricket to have this tournament and it’s a reflection of what we do day in and day out. It’s tough on the road, all three forms, but a lot of time in this next eight or nine months to ponder and think about what my future holds. I’m just grateful to be back out playing cricket.”
Unlike Smith or Bancroft, Warner did not give any overt indications about returning to play for Australia when his ban expires in March 2019. CA’s punishment included a clause stating that the place of all three players in the esteem of the Australian public would be a factor in whether or not they were reinstated.
“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and I look back at the past that’s happened and the sanctions that have been handed down by the ICC, it is what it is,” Warner said of his critics. “For us to come out here and play the game we love, we’re very fortunate for that and grateful for that opportunity that Canada cricket have given us. Critics will be critics, that’s why they’re behind the keyboards, they do what they do and we just move forward and try and ignore that.
“For me it’s about getting back into the rhythm of cricket again, making sure I’m putting my best foot forward for this tournament, making sure that I’m putting 100% in all the time, giving advice to the guys who don’t get the opportunity to play on the big stage as well, and just to compete. It’s been a long three months, thinking that I probably wouldn’t be over here, but it’s a good opportunity, I’m excited about it, and I look forward to the rest of the tournament.”