David Warner has flagged his likely retirement from T20Is following the two T20 World Cups to be played in consecutive years, and also explained why he has chosen to skip the Big Bash League for much of his international career.
On an emotional Australian Cricket Awards night for Warner, he took out the Allan Border Medal as the national team’s best player across all three formats despite an abominable Ashes series in which Steven Smith and Marnus Labuschagne scored the runs that allowed Tim Paine’s team to retain the urn in England for the first time since 2001. He fared far better on home soil after adopting the belligerent, aggressive batting approach that Australian cricket followers have grown used to, and also made runs on the brief India ODI tour last month that was the last series that featured in the medal’s voting period.
At 33, Warner is starting to consider how to approach the remainder of his career, and the dropping of T20Is from his schedule appears the next step he will take to prolong it – albeit only after the T20 World Cups in Australia later this year and in India in 2021.
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“I don’t have a BBL team; I took a break during this period, and that was about my body and my mind, making sure I’m getting ready for the next series that comes up,” Warner said. “If you look at T20 internationals, we’ve got back-to-back World Cups as well, that’s probably a format that could be one I’d probably drop in a few years.
“I have to look at the schedule; it’s going to be very difficult [for me] to play all three forms, and good luck to all the guys who want to keep playing that. You talk to guys like AB de Villiers and Virender Sehwag, these guys who’ve done it for a long time, it does become challenging. Having three young kids and my wife at home all the time, the constant travelling becomes very difficult. If it was to come down to [leaving out] one format, it would probably be the international T20s.”
As for the BBL, Warner denied that its rapid growth to a 61-game tournament, after starting as a 20-game, state-based event in 2005 and then growing to 31, 35, 43 and 59 games under the BBL banner from 2011 onwards, was a factor in him avoiding it. Warner’s manager had said last year that his client would consider playing in the BBL but that it would need to be financially “worth his while” to do so, but the opener also indicated that some CA-contracted players were uneasy about taking the spots of cricketers who had represented their clubs for the whole event.
“For me it’s about working out timeframes with different series, identify when you need a bit of a rest,” Warner sad. “Generally, we play a Test series and go into a one-day series. We went to India and then generally you have a one-day series at home, back-to-back games and then you go away. So, it was a bit different this year; I was able to have that opportunity to have that break which I’m grateful for.
“A lot of the guys try to go back and play as much as they can. Sometimes, you look at the finals as an example, they come back and play the final, you’re taking someone’s spot as well, which is always tough as a player, you don’t want to come back and just take someone’s spot for one game. So, this opportunity was great for these guys to go out and play, and to see Smithy and Gazza (Nathan Lyon) and them take part in it and win the title is fantastic.”
There had been plenty of tears from Warner as he accepted the medal, after not even being invited to last year’s ceremony, which predated CA’s lengthy reintegration process for him, Smith and Cameron Bancroft after their Newlands bans.
“I had no doubt that I had the capability of being back here again. It was obviously a lot of hard work and commitment to be able to put my hand back up for selection for one, and go away and just do what I know best and that’s to try and score as many runs as I can in any competition I was playing in,” Warner said. “There was obviously a lot of work behind the scenes to reintegrate the three of us and I really appreciate the way that unfolded and the way we were reintegrated back into the team and into the fold, and that was by having net sessions as well at the Test matches, keeping our sharpness up against quality bowling, and I’m extremely grateful for that.
“There were tough times there with me and, my wife having two miscarriages, there were a lot of things going on in my life away from cricket that I had to work on, and I was able to do that and that was the thing about not having cricket there. I had to work out what was going to be best for me. I had to work on my fitness, me and my wife are a great team, we have three beautiful daughters, and we really enjoy each other’s company.”
Australia’s next assignment is a tour of South Africa for three T20Is and three ODIs, taking Warner and Smith back to the scene of their transgressions for the first time in nearly two years. Warner said his experiences in England last year, where he was able to shrug off a constant stream of abuse from crowds while never once retaliating, would be helpful memories.
“I knew what I was walking into in England and I know exactly what I’m walking into in South Africa,” Warner said. “You just look at the recent series against England; it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, you’re probably going to cop something of some sort. You’ve got to try and get that out of your head and not let that affect you. I’ve well and truly learned my lessons from last time. It’s going to be great to go back over there, and I’m just really excited to get out there against South Africa and hopefully come home with a win.”