2018 was perhaps the worst year of David Warner’s career. After being indicted in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa the Australian opener, along with his then captain Steve Smith, were banned from international cricket for one year.
The ramifications of that episode were rather ugly for Warner as people all over social media, former cricketers and journalists in the press came down hard on his actions. Even after Warner had apologized and was serving his punishment, fans on social media continued to mock him relentlessly.
Things looked rather glum for Warner, but he kept his head down and served his punishment. When he was allowed to play club level cricket, Warner made full use of the opportunities and got back to the basics.
Then, in March this year, Warner was allowed to participate in the Indian Premier League after a gap of one year where he represented the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Warner showed his class and went on to emerge as the highest scorer of the tournament with 692 runs in 12 innings. The runs were flowing, and Warner grew in confidence with each match.
International cricket is a different ball game, though. Warner’s return to international cricket coincided with the ICC ODI World Cup 2019 in England. It must have been a massive challenge for the Australian left-hander to overcome the ghosts of the past year and concentrate straightaway at such a big stage.
Thankfully, Warner has come out with flying colors in his very first game on his return – scoring a fluent unbeaten 89 against Afghanistan in Australia’s first match of World Cup 2019. Warner’s effort came in a chase, and it helped Australia achieve a comfortable 7-wicket win.
“The way that I started there – playing Twenty20 cricket over the last sort of 12 to 14 months – I hadn’t moved my feet at all,” Warner disclosed in the post-match presentation. “So to get back into a rhythm out there, start moving in the right direction, getting my head over the ball – that was just great to get out there and do that. As a positive, for us, it’s about getting past this first victory and move on to the West Indies.”
Australian captain Aaron Finch too was relieved that his opening partner got some runs under his belt and is slowly moving on from the ugly chapter that haunted Australian cricket for over a year.
“I think he was struggling for the first half of his innings there,” Finch said after the match to the press. “He struggled to time the ball and his feet weren’t going, so the fact that he kept hanging in there and hanging in there… you always have to remember that it’s going to be harder for a new batter to come in. So that was great for him, to keep on and do that job well for us and be not out at the end.”
During this knock, Warner was booed by individual sections of the crowd – likely to be English fans. But he quietly concentrated on his batting and moved along. One can expect more loud jeers as the tournament progresses. But David Warner is made of robust steel. He is a fascinating cricketer, and the more he is mocked, the more steely will be his resolve. Don’t be surprised, hence, if David Warner goes on to leave an indelible mark in World Cup 2019.