Sydney Thunder confident of Warner BBL return

Trent Copeland, Sydney Thunder’s general manager, is confident that David Warner will return to the club for another season and hopes he and the team can benefit from him being part of a full campaign.

Warner made two appearances last season – which included him landing in a helicopter at the SCG ahead of the derby against Sydney Sixers – following six in 2022-23 after signing a big-money two-year deal. Across those eight outings he made 149 runs at 21.28.

With his Test career finished Warner could be far more available and he has spoken about being keen to return although will have broadcast commitments around the Australia-India Test series which overlaps the first half of the BBL season.

“Confidence scale high, process to be followed on that,” Copeland said on the prospect of coming Warner back. “He’s a champion of the club, a long-standing member and hasn’t really had the opportunities in his career to just live and breathe that for a full summer. So I’m really keen to make that happen.”

Warner has an ILT20 deal with Dubai Capitals, who he flew out to join after playing for Thunder last season, but the UAE tournament will start earlier next January and overlap with far more of the BBL.

“Davey is a good friend of mine but I’m not taking for granted that there are many assets around the world in terms of franchise club cricket that are wanting his services,” Copeland said. “Let’s make sure we make that happen and he can be a Thunder man for life. I think it would be an exciting story to finish off what has been an amazing career for him.”

Speaking ahead of his final Test in January, Warner said: “I definitely am keen to pursue playing Big Bash next year. There’s going to be conversations behind the scenes to allow me to do that..

“Obviously I’ve joined the Fox commentary team next year during the Test series against India, which I’m looking forward to. So I would like to play [the BBL] in and around the commentary stuff. I’ve just got to make sure that I’m, one, playing to the best of my ability and, two, not hindering the team’s performances or upsetting the balance of the team.”

Thunder finished bottom in last season’s BBL with just one win in 10 matches and Copeland has made significant moves on recruitment since joining as GM earlier this year. Wes Agar was brought in as part of a draft pick trade with Adelaide Strikers and Sam Billings has been signed on a landmark three-year deal.

Thunder had the greatest chance of being handed the first pick in the upcoming overseas draft, but had to be content with third spot after Melbourne Stars and Renegades came out ahead of them.

“Absolutely shafted, if I’m being honest,” Copeland joked when asked about the weighted draft lottery. “We had the highest odds for the overall pick. Heartache…I was excited at the prospect of landing No. 1.

“To be honest, in the landscape we live in with the BBL draft, No. 3 doesn’t change our plans. We’ve got a targeted skillset we’re after, a really clear and obvious standout group at the top of our priority list, and I’m confident we’ll get one of those.”

Having brought Billings back to Thunder, they could look to secure long-time overseas player Alex Hales should he nominate for the draft. They would have retention rights if either of the Melbourne clubs tried to take him.

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