Polarising Warner set for Sydney farewell after 12-year Test career

Polarising Warner set for Sydney farewell after 12-year Test career

SYDNEY: David Warner has been given the hometown farewell from Test cricket he craved after the opening batsman was named in an unchanged Australia line-up for the third and final Test against Pakistan in Sydney next week.

Warner said in June he wanted to call time on his 12-year Test career at the Sydney Cricket Ground and, with the Australians holding an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, the 37-year-old has been granted his wish.

“The National Selection Panel have retained the same squad from Melbourne to Sydney as we look to clean sweep the Test series,” chief selector George Bailey said. “We look forward to celebrating David Warner’s final Test match and his incredible career at his home ground.” Sydneysider Warner went into the current series with question marks over his form due to a lack of Test runs, but a rapidfire 164 in the first innings of the opening Test in Perth erased any doubts over his position in the team.

Australia won that Test by 360 runs before Pat Cummins put on a man-of-the-match performance to seal the second Test in Melbourne last week, the captain taking 10 wickets as Pakistan lost by 79 runs in four days.

The series win was the fourth in a row at home for the Australians, who have won 10 Tests out of 12 since Cummins took over as captain ahead of the 2021-22 Ashes series.

Pakistan will go into the meeting at the Sydney Cricket Ground looking for their first Test win in Australia for nearly three decades.

Warner’s exploits will forever be overshadowed by the role he played in the notorious ball-tampering scandal of 2018.

The polarising Australian will pad up for an emotional farewell in Sydney after a career that began when he faced New Zealand at Brisbane in 2011.

In his 111 Tests, the left-hander has plundered 8,695 runs at an average of 44.58, with 26 centuries and 36 half-centuries. A larger-than-life character, Warner also collected 89 catches as one of the most consistent slip fielders in the game.

“He is probably our greatest ever three-format player. He’ll be a loss,” Australian coach Andrew McDonald said on Saturday. “Other people have been gunning for him for a period of time but for us, internally, we’ve seen the great value and what he brings to the table, hence why we’ve kept picking him.

“It can be hard to replace someone who is striking at 70, averaging 45, most ever runs as an Australian opener.”Warner’s dark side came into play as the chief plotter in the ‘sandpaper-gate’ scandal in South Africa, which shattered a reputation already bruised by numerous run-ins.

Along with skipper Steve Smith, he was banned for a year by Cricket Australia for his part in the third Test debacle in Cape Town that saw Cameron Bancroft use sandpaper to scuff the ball before a crude attempt to conceal the evidence down his trousers.

Part of the punishment saw Warner stripped of the vice-captaincy and banned from ever leading the team, crushing his dream of captaining Australia’s one-day side.

For many in the game, the assertive Warner’s involvement was hardly a surprise.

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

Despite the controversies, he was welcomed back into the Australia fold when his ban ended, and made his Test comeback during the Ashes series against England in 2019.

It was a miserable return, scoring just 95 runs in 10 innings at a paltry average of 9.5 while being repeatedly booed by English fans.

But selectors again kept faith and he bounced back later that year with an unbeaten 335 against Pakistan in Adelaide and has been ever present since.

Squad: Pat Cummins (captain), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.

Published in Dawn, january 1st, 2024


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