David Warner celebrates his 2022 double century against South Africa.
David Warner has experienced plenty of highs and lows during his tenure as an opener for Australia. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
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Australia won’t ride another roller-coaster like Warner

Scott Bailey January 2, 2024

Australian cricket may never see another man like David Warner.

A man who debuted for NSW behind a paywall in a now-defunct state Twenty20 competition, in the same week the Blues rolled out rugby league legend Andrew Johns in a bid to boost crowds.

A man who much of the public only saw for the first time in a free-to-air T20 international against South Africa, when he flayed a top-tier attack including Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn.

David Warner (centre) made a big impression against S.Africa in 2009.
 Warner (centre) made a big impression on his international debut against South Africa in 2009. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS 

A man who hit the ball so crisply that day in January 2009 he immediately became something of a cult hero, and had to fight off a reputation as a white-ball specialist following his 89 from 43 balls.

A man who could not be swayed from red-ball cricket by the lure of big-money T20 franchise deals, perhaps because they barely existed outside of the Indian Premier League at the time.

“It’s easy for me to sit here and talk about playing for your country at Test level through T20 cricket,” Warner reflected this week. 

“Fortunately in my development, I didn’t have (T20 leagues) there so I didn’t have to make those decisions of going off and playing in those.

“For me, it was always about playing Test cricket for Australia.”

Warner is a man who has scored more runs than any Australian opener in history, at a strike-rate bettered only by Adam Gilchrist of all his countrymen over the past century.

A man who had the ability to bat through Australia’s innings in his second Test, and score a blazing 69-ball ton a few matches later in his maiden summer in the format.

A man who was never really dropped from Australia’s Test team through a 12-year career, although he was effectively suspended twice.

A man who averaged 58.11 at home, and scored two crucial tons in Australia’s ascent to world No.1 in South Africa in 2014, in what he this week labelled a career highlight.

A man who was one of Australia’s few shining lights on the underwhelming tour of Bangladesh in 2017, and who had enough credits in the bank to survive averaging 9.5 through an entire Ashes two years later.

A man whose career lived through some of Australian cricket’s darkest days following the shock death of Phillip Hughes in late 2014.

A man who scored an emotional hundred in Australia’s very next Test in Adelaide, backing it up with another later that summer at the SCG – the venue where Hughes faced his last ball.

David Warner addresses the media ahead of his final Test for Australia
 David Warner addresses the media ahead of his final Test for Australia, against Pakistan at the SCG. Image by Steve Markham/AAP PHOTOS 

“Being here when he fell that day was quite sad and terrible,” Warner said this week of Hughes’ death during a Sheffield Shield match. 

“Still today, it hits us hard. I’ve always seen him at the other end. All the boys know he’s looking down upon us.”

Warner is a man who has won four world titles across all formats, and was player of the series in one of those.

A man who this year plans on going in pursuit of a fifth global trophy in the T20 World Cup – and who hasn’t ruled out further comebacks.

A man who at various times was known as the team’s attack dog, nicknamed ‘the reverend’ and accused of being the mastermind behind sandpaper-gate.

A man who is yet to truly break his silence on that infamous period in Australian cricket; the only member of the banned trio – which also included Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft – not to give a wide-ranging interview about March 24, 2018. 

A man who remains disbarred from any leadership role by Cricket Australia, despite captain Pat Cummins on Tuesday labelling him one of the group’s figureheads. 

“I’ve moved forward from that,” Warner said at Monday’s farewell press conference.

“I’ve got opportunities to lead in the IPL, to lead in the ILT20. I’ve enjoyed my leadership roles. 

“In recent years, I’ve learned that leadership (isn’t about) wearing a captain or vice-captain badge. 

“It’s about being true to yourself, setting an example both on and off the field. I’m a leader in this team no matter what.”

Warner will this week retire against Pakistan as one of Australia’s finest openers and has been labelled the nation’s best-ever three-format player.

He will also hang up his boots as a man who announced his goal of an SCG farewell some seven months ago, becoming the first active player in the team to walk away since 2015.

David Warner plays a shot in the Ashes in December 2021.
 The jury remains out over who will replace the opener at the top of Australia’s order. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS 

A man who has for so long split public opinion, but is such a force at the top of the order that the only debate now is how do Australia  replace him?

A man who now, some 15 years on from signalling his arrival against South Africa, will finally become the first Australian to truly test the notion of overseas club versus country.

“I think of him when he first came on the scene and really changed Test cricket,”  Cummins said of Warner on Tuesday. 

“He was striking at over 70, which is unheard of, especially for an opening batter, averaging 40 or 50. That’s the Davey I remember. 

“Walking out there and taking the game away from the opposition in the space of an hour or two, and doing it for over a decade. 

“He’s just a champion of Australian sport. Hopefully he gets a good send off this week.”