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David Warner: From Wounder to Wounded to Wonder, journey comes to a full circle

David Warner

Dubai, November 15: In the lead-up to the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, David Warner might not have found himself in a great space. He was stripped of Sunrisers Hyderabad captaincy in the IPL and was even dropped from the match-day squad confining him to the hotel room.

There were talks about how Warner had become a 'lesser’ player in a matter of few months or few weeks. Then there were net rage about the treatment meted out to a senior player like Warner.

But there was not much chat from Warner about all that apart from a couple of suggestive social media posts, the guess-what type.

Once the T20 World Cup started there was no hint of Warner who struggled to time the ball in the IPL 2021.

“I’d always felt really well. I didn't get much time in the middle in the two practice matches, obviously. But for me, it was about going back to the basics.

“Going to hard, synthetic wickets and try to hit some balls. Definitely up there with 2015. Being part of the World Cup final against England a decade ago (2010) definitely hurt," said Warner.

But the Warner we saw was not the downright aggressive Warner that we have been so used to, the beast who hammered bowlers for sixes for fun.

This was the smarter Warner, who knows the precise moment to switch on his aggressive instincts, who knows the bowlers whom he should target to swell the tally.

The incredible innings against Pakistan in the semifinals will give us a clue. The ball, perhaps, slipped out of Mohammed Hafeez’s hands and pitched twice. Warner quickly realised it was a no-ball and did not hesitate to slam it for a six over mid-wicket.

It was an amalgam of cheekiness and cricketing sense. The talk session about the righteousness of it could be conducted at a later date.

A few balls later, Shadab Khan dropped one short and Warner shimmied down the track and hoisted the ball over the bowler’s head for a six.

This is then not the first time Warner came back strongly after a debacle. Warner lost some precious months of international cricket post the Sandpaper Gate in 2018 but went to play T20 leagues — the Global T20 in Canada and the Caribbean Premier League for St Lucia Stars.

Warner never rose above mediocre in those tournaments. Then too, people began to doubt whether all that controversy in South Africa had blunted Warner’s edge.

But once he returned to the IPL 2019 for the Sunrisers, Warner made 692 runs at a strike rate in excess of 143, marking the return of the most dominant batsman in the IPL.

Australia skipper Aaron Finch might not have forgotten that, and a few bad games in IPL 2021 were not good enough for him to reverse his thinking.

“I can't believe people wrote him off saying Warner was done. That's when he plays his best cricket. It was almost like poking the bear. What a way to start his innings," said Finch.

Finch said he had called coach Justin Langer ahead of the tournament to tell him not to worry about Warner's form.. "You didn't expect that (Warner winning the Man of the Tournament)? I certainly did.

“Without a word of a lie, I promise you, I called Justin Langer a few months ago and said, "Don't worry about Davey, he'll be Man of the Tournament," said Finch.

“He's a great player. He's one of the all-time great batters. He's a fighter. He's someone who when his back is against the wall, that's when you get the very, very best of David Warner. It was a special finish to the tournament for him, the last couple of knocks," he added.

All that belief from his mates did not go in vain. Warner made 289 runs to be adjudged the Player of the Tournament and ended the event as the second highest run-getter behind Pakistan’s Babar Azam (303 runs).

Warner also went past Matthew Hayden (265 runs in the 2007 T20 World Cup) as the highest run-getter for Australia in the T20 World Cup.

Davey Dumb Dumb! Davey the Wounder. He was called all that post that Sandpaper saga. Time for us then to acknowledge Davey the Wonder.

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Story first published: Monday, November 15, 2021, 11:07 [IST]
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