Under a spotless blue sky on a lovely morning, a giant stadium buzzes with excited spectators, all waiting for something exciting to happen. A punch, a strike through mid-wicket, or a soft tap followed by a dash for a run or two – maybe even a daring move if the game calls for it – and then, bam! The crowd erupts, the teammates celebrate, and praises rain down from the commentary box. The man in the spotlight raises his arms, showcasing his iconic celebration and acknowledging the audience. That’s how I will always envision David Warner, ‘The Minister.’
I recall back in 2013, during my teenage years when I had no clue that David Warner played Test cricket, someone had to inform me. My immediate reaction was, ‘Huh, really? Does this guy even play Test cricket? Is he any good?’ At that time, I only knew him as a white-ball format player. You might find it amusing how naive I was, but that’s exactly how it unfolded. Nevertheless, I have since witnessed numerous emotional and intense moments, the highs and lows, including the Sandpaper Gate scandal, and much more. I make it a point not to miss any cricket match that Australia plays, especially in the Tests. The good thing is that it doesn’t matter if Australia is batting or bowling. When they’re bowling, I have Pat Cummins and Co; when they’re batting, I have David Warner. So, I just sit back, switch to enjoyment mode, relax, and watch.
What I admire most about Warner is the way he approaches the game. He possesses a magnetic ability to sway the game’s direction in just a few moments or a couple of shots. The fear and uneasiness he instills in his opponents, I revel in it. Always ready to score runs, yet never hesitant to play defensively when the situation demands. He has been doing this across all three formats for more than a decade – what a star!
I vividly recall his back-to-back Test centuries against us (Bangladesh). In Mirpur, we managed to defeat Australia for the first time in Test history. It was on a spin-friendly pitch, particularly challenging for the fourth innings. Warner played an innings filled with patience, scoring a century, although it was not enough for them to secure a win. However, in the very next match in Chattogram, he scored another century, and this time, it proved sufficient for Australia to secure the victory. Even though I couldn’t celebrate our loss, all I really wanted was Warner’s century and our team’s success.
I want to emphasize one specific thing: the media is now saturated with cricket experts and analysts, and I appreciate that. What I can’t fathom is how anyone could dismiss David Warner. I remember the period before the 2021 T20 World Cup when his form in the IPL was subpar – even his own franchise treated him harshly. People started saying, ‘Oh, Warner is done for. He’s finished!’ I don’t mind that because people talk like that, but what truly irked me were some of the so-called experts attempting to write him off. I thought, ‘If you have even a semblance of understanding of cricket, how dare you do that?’ And how did Warner respond? He accepted all the criticism and emerged as the player of the tournament as well as the winner of the T20 World Cup. Yes, that’s David Warner for you.
You might want to discuss his recent form in Test cricket. Well, that may be a topic of conversation. But he really wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. I recall Shane Warne discussing cricket in a podcast on Sky Sports, and he talked about how people remember a player after they retire. He said something like this: ‘People don’t remember the stats; they remember the way you played the game. Did you deliver when the team needed you? And that is the most important thing.’ I truly feel that way. We can talk about his accomplishments – World Cups, Ashes, T20 World Cup, and a plethora of personal milestones. However, I am certain that I will not recall the negativity. All I remember is that there was a star in the sky, a star that illuminated countless joyous moments that brought pure delight to me. That is why when he walked out for the last time in Test cricket at Sydney Cricket Ground, I felt like I had lost one of my childhood heroes. Thank you, Minister.