David Warner has not contemplated the prospect of his year-long ban from international cricket for ball-tampering being reduced, as he continues his time in grade cricket, which he said had brought him “perspective” after living in a “bubble”.
Warner took the field alongside Steven Smith for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal at Newlands in March, as their respective grade teams Randwick Petersham and Sutherland, faced off in a 50-over match at Coogee Oval in Sydney.
The pair chatted regularly during the game and shared what appeared as a warm handshake after the match. Warner insisted that talk of the pair having fallen out over what happened, and claims that he had thrown Smith under a bus by not accepting enough blame, was “comedy.”
The last couple of weeks have brought more significant changes in Australian cricket in the wake of events in South Africa following the cultural reviews. The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) has made a submission to Cricket Australia that the bans handed to Warner, Smith and Cameron Bancroft should be rescinded in light of the findings, which painted the entire Australian cricket set-up in a dim light.
“I’m sitting here with 12 months on the sidelines, that’s the way I look at it,” Warner said as he spoke for the first time in Australia since his emotional press conference on returning from South Africa. “That’s why I want everyone to keep being positive about the guys who are playing [for Australia]. We can’t just sit here and keep saying ‘are they are going to be in or not’.
“There’s going to be some negative impact with what happened, but we have to put our best foot forward to make sure Australians are enjoying cricket. We put our hands up, we were ashamed of what happened, but we are here to try and promote cricket. We are trying to get Australians back loving it.”
Warner’s time in grade cricket has not been without controversy, however, when he made headlines for briefly walking off the pitch during a match against Western Suburbs, having taken offence to a sledge from Jason Hughes, the brother of Phillip. He later resumed his innings, going on to make a hundred, but it put Warner firmly back in the spotlight.
Of the experience of dropping down to a lower level, Warner said it had been a reality check playing alongside people with weekday jobs who have to fit their twice-weekly training around earning a living and then commit their weekends to playing.
“You pinch yourself a little when you walk in the changing room and the guys are talking about the working week,” Warner said. “It puts it in perspective, we have been living in a bubble for a long time.”
Of what there is little doubt is that plenty of people still want to watch Warner and Smith, who both spent considerable timing mingling with fans. The match drew a crowd well in excess of 2000 by the time Smith emerged to bat in the run chase, with every possible vantage point taken around the picturesque ground. Multiple trips were required to the local supermarket to replenish the barbecue while the bar needed plenty of extra crates – a large number donated by Warner.
Neither player managed to cut loose with the bat: Warner was caught at backward point for 13 and Smith was stumped for 48, having struggled to find his timing. But the crowd was treated to some thunderous hitting from Shane Watson, a century by Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond and a match-winning hand from Austin Waugh, the son of Steve. Waugh had earlier been the man to dismiss Warner, as Smith’s Sutherland team came out the winners with two balls remaining.
When they are back together for Australia still remains to be seen.