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The Roar



Warner should have ban lifted but giving him Australian white-ball captaincy would be the wrong call

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17th October, 2022
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After months of quietly putting forward his case, David Warner is no longer holding back in stating his ambition to captain Australia.

Cricket Australia should lift his leadership ban but that doesn’t mean he’s the right man to take over the ODI captaincy from Aaron Finch and likely the T20 role as well once the World Cup is run and done over the next four weeks.

Warner turns 36 next week and although he is super fit and retirement is at least a couple of years away, giving the captaincy to him would be a backward step. A stopgap measure at best. 

And irrespective of which side of the divide you stand on whether his leadership ban should be lifted for the 2018 ball-tampering saga in Cape Town, giving him the national white-ball role would create an unnecessary distraction for the team in the lead-up to next year’s World Cup in India.

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Pat Cummins, who has previously stated his preference was to just captain the red-ball team, on Sunday said he would be open to leading the limited-overs sides as well if it was on a rotating basis.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 01: Pat Cummins and David Warner of Australia laugh during the warm up before game three of the Men's International Twenty20 match between Australia and Sri Lanka at Melbourne Cricket Ground on November 01, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Quite reasonably for a fast bowler, who also banks seven-figure IPL deals, he doesn’t want to go on every white-ball tour with the national squad. Three-format batters find the program tough enough so there’s no point burning Cummins out with such an arduous workload.


Captaincy by committee, by definition, is fraught with danger but if Cummins put his hand up for the major ICC events and a fair chunk of the other short-form matches when he doesn’t need a rest, that should surely be Cricket Australia’s best option.

When asked how he felt about succeeding Finch as limited-overs skipper, Cummins said it “is something I’d be open to”.

“Playing every single game isn’t realistic. It would be really seamless if you had a committee. The style of just about everyone in the team is really similar. We’ve got some great leaders in the team, we all get along great.”

Test and ODI wicketkeeper Alex Carey, at 31, is a much-younger option than Warner although he’s not a regular in the T20 team due to Matthew Wade’s late-career renaissance as a closer.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 09: David Warner of Australia raises his bat after reaching his half century during game one of the T20 International series between Australia and England at Optus Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Paul Kane – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Carey, who was already installed as Finch’s ODI vice-captain, filled in when he was injured in the Caribbean last year and won two of his three matches at the helm of a depleted team.

If the selectors persist with the Tasmanian gloveman after the World Cup, the captaincy equation could get even more complicated if Cummins is the nominal white-ball leader and Wade, as current vice-captain, could be his deputy in the T20 format who fills in from time to time.


There is not really a standout captaincy option in that late 20s prime of their career stage who is a regular in both white-ball sides – Cameron Green has the potential to grow into that person but that’s a few years away.

Warner’s captaincy career is likely to play out like another box-office star with a similar surname who would have, could have and should have led Australia many more times but didn’t, Shane Warne.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 31: Alex Carey of Australia jumps over Wessly Madhevere of Zimbabwe as he attempts a run out during game two of the One Day International series between Australia and Zimbabwe at Riverway Stadium on August 31, 2022 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Alex Carey. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The late, great spin king was a brilliant tactician but his off-field behaviour cost him official leadership roles – he won 10 of the 11 ODI matches when he captained Australia in 1998-99.

He was so good that the national selectors wanted the leg-spinner to take over from Mark Taylor as Test captain but the CA board thought Steve Waugh was the safer bet due to Warne’s penchant for attracting negative publicity away from the playing arena.

Warner has been victorious in 11 of the 12 times he’s filled in as skipper for the national ODI and T20 outfits. 

He captained Australia in three ODIs in 2016 on the Sri Lankan tour, winning them all and scoring a century in the third match. 


In the T20 arena he had nine games under his belt over an 18-month stretch from that Sri Lankan tour up until the New Zealand series in 2018 just before the ill-fated trip to South Africa where the series was rather abrasive, to say the least.

Of those nine games, including the two matches against the Black Caps when he led a virtual second-string side, Warner led Australia to victory on eight occasions with his sole loss coming against India in a rain-shortened clash in Ranchi five years ago.

His Cape Town colleagues Cameron Bancroft (nine-month playing ban) and Steve Smith (one-year playing and two-year leadership ban) have long since been unencumbered by the sanctions of 2018 with Smith filling in as Test skipper last summer when Cummins was in COVID-19 isolation.

Warner, who also served a one-year suspension from playing at the elite level, is the only one of the trio still paying a price by being barred from leadership positions in Australia although he was able to captain Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL after serving his ban.

As is Cricket Australia’s want, there’s all sorts of red tape that needs to be lifted, codes rewritten and committees convening before Warner can be allowed to even be considered for captaincy, even at BBL level when he plays for Sydney Thunder in January.

Matt Wade

Matthew Wade. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)


Incidentally, CA’s top brass has found extra funds to ensure Warner can have a Bash locally rather than be lured to the UAE for a more lucrative T20 pay packet so you’d think they won’t be giving him coins with one hand and then swiping away his leadership claims with the other.

CA took the first step towards lifting his ban on Friday when the board resolved to commission a review of the code of conduct so that Warner’s decision to accept his initial lifetime leadership ban can now technically be overturned. 

Warner reacted to the news by telling Fox Cricket in a sideline interview later that night while resting from the T20 against England in Canberra that he was “happy just to sit down with them and chew the fat a little bit and see where we’re at”.

He then added: “If it does get overturned we have to go from there but for me I’m a leader in this team no matter what so it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a C or a VC next to your name, you’ve got to put your best foot forward and lead by example.”

David Warner of Australia.

David Warner. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

That second part could be seen by CA as Warner being The Bull (his nickname when he was known for sledging) rather than The Reverend (what his teammates called him when he toned down his antics). A slight thumbing of the nose to the board that he’s a leader irrespective of whether they make it official. 

By saying his official title doesn’t matter, CA’s head honchos might just say well then it doesn’t matter if we make him captain or not anyway so let’s not bother. 


Warner stepped up his campaign for reinstatement in an interview published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday morning by saying “it’s a privilege any time you get spoken about in those kinds of roles”.

“So if the opportunity presented itself, I’d take it with open arms.”

Whether CA’s directors open their arms to allow him back remains to be seen but even if they do, the ship has probably sailed on Warner’s chance of captaining Australia again but if he led the Thunder in the BBL this season and beyond, surely that will be allowed for a cricketer who has already served an exceedingly harsh punishment.