A T20 star who excelled in Test cricket, David Warner exits the international stage | Crickit

A T20 star who excelled in Test cricket, David Warner exits the international stage

BySanjjeev K Samyal
Jun 25, 2024 10:44 PM IST

David Warner's hopes of a fairy-tale T20 World Cup farewell dashed. Retires as Australia's top T20 scorer. Glowing tributes despite controversies.

MUMBAI: If David Warner had to write his own script, how he would have loved to bow out of the game holding aloft the ICC T20 World Cup trophy in his hands. In his mind, the dashing Australian opener must have marked out Kensington Oval at Bridgetown, Barbados, on June 29, as the venue and date of his swansong.

Australia's David Warner walks back after getting dismissed in his last T20 innings, against India on Monday. (AFP)
Australia's David Warner walks back after getting dismissed in his last T20 innings, against India on Monday. (AFP)

Not all scripts, of course, go as per plan -- not even for a modern-day all-format star of the all-conquering Australia side.

A blinder from Rohit Sharma to beat Australia and Afghanistan’s subsequent win over Bangladesh in St Vincent dashed Warner’s hopes of bowing out in a blaze of glory. He has already retired from Tests last year and One-Day Internationals at the start of this year.

Warner’s final innings now will be six off six balls in the defeat against India. He walked off the pitch, not knowing whether that was indeed his last game. With Australia’s qualification hopes unsure, there was no guard of honour or standing ovation.

Never mind the low-key end to his career, it’s been a highly fulfilling 15-year international career for a thrilling batter. Warner had long signalled that this T20 World Cup would be his final tournament and T20 cricket would be an apt way to sign off. He has been a product of the format, first making a name as a T20 specialist. He announced his arrival on the international stage with a spectacular 89/43 balls on T20I debut against South Africa in 2009, becoming the first man since 1877 to debut for Australia before playing first-class cricket. As his Delhi Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag had predicted, Warner went on to become a highly effective Test player as well.

Warner, who has 49 centuries across formats and close to 19,000 runs in international cricket, retires as Australia’s highest scorer in T20 format with 3,277 runs from 110 matches, at an average of 33.43 and strike rate of 142.47. From 112 Tests, he has scored 8,786 runs at an average of 44.59 with 26 hundreds and 37 fifties between 2011 and 2024. He also scored 6,932 runs from 161 ODI matches at an average of 45.30 with the help of 22 centuries and 33 half-centuries. All-format players seldom come in greater quality.

Former skipper Ricky Ponting paid glowing tributes to the retired opener. “We know he retired in the summer from Test cricket, but you’ll struggle to find a guy that’s had as big an impact on all three forms in Australian cricket than Warner has,” Ponting said during the ICC’s Digital Daily show.

Teammate Josh Hazlewood acknowledged that Warner’s absence in the dressing room would be hard to fill. “We’ll definitely miss him around the group, out in the field and off-field. (An) amazing all-format career,” he said. “It’s sort of been a slow burn with Test cricket, and ODI cricket and now T20. So, life without him, we’ve sort of gotten used to it a little bit … it’s always different when you lose a player that’s been there for so long.”

But for all his exploits on the pitch, Warner’s career has also been dotted with controversies in equal measure. His batting feats in all three formats for Australia will forever be overshadowed by his role as the chief protagonist of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal of 2018.

He was charged as the man who instructed teammate Cameron Bancroft to use sandpaper on the ball in the infamous Cape Town Test against South Africa. Suspended from any cricket for a year, Warner was also banned for life from taking up any leadership role in the Australian setup.

“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 last week at North Sound ahead of Australia’s Super 8 clash against Bangladesh. “But for me, if they’re real cricket tragics and they love cricket, (as well as) my closest supporters, they will always see me as that cricketer - someone who tried to change the game.”

In June 2013, he was also suspended and fined for punching England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar on the eve of the Ashes.

Warner has left the door open for a return for next year’s Champions Trophy but, for now, it looks like an outside bet.

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