Clarke and Finch question timing of Warner’s ball-tampering comments

Australia

Speaking to News Corp and cricket.com.au in Antigua ahead of Australia’s Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup, Warner said “coming back since 2018 I’ve probably…been the only one that’s ever copped a lot of flak” although accepted it was inevitable he would always be remembered for what happened.

Warner will finish his international career with a sanction still hanging over him from events at Cape Town in being barred from any leadership role in Australian cricket. He abandoned his attempts to have that overturned in late 2022. Steven Smith, who was banned for a year and stripped of the captaincy, has since led Australia again as Pat Cummins’ understudy, while Cameron Bancroft received a nine-month ban.

“I understand where Davey is coming from, I think parts of what he said are fair enough; I don’t think he’s got the timing right,” Clarke told ESPN’s Around The Wicket. “I don’t think it’s fair to say he’s the only one whose copped it. I think Cameron Bancroft’s certainly copped it, and there’s still about is the reasoning he’s not in the Australian Test team because of what happened years ago. Steve Smith obviously copped it and lost the Australian captaincy.

“Davey has certainly copped it, there’s no doubt about it. I just think the timing is probably not right. Think it probably would have been suited for the end of a World Cup rather in the middle of a World Cup because there’s probably other players in the team who would prefer this not to be spoken about right now. But there’s parts of what he said that are correct.”

Earlier this year, Cummins spoke directly to Bancroft to reassure him his lack of a recall to the Test side when Warner retired had nothing to do with events of 2018.

Clarke acknowledged Warner’s view that the ball tampering will always be part of his story, but believed the opener would be recalled for his brilliance as a player. If Australia go on to win the T20 World Cup, he could be one of just four players – alongside Cummins, Travis Head and Mitchell Starc – to have played in three finals across the three formats, after the World Test Championship and ODI World Cup triumphs.

“I think he will definitely be remembered for how great a cricketer he has been, and he’s been an amazing entertainer,” Clarke said. “Unfortunately for him, yes, it [ball tampering] probably will be spoken about…in 10, 20 years’ time. But I think how good a cricketer he is will be spoken about as well.”

Finch, too, was surprised by Warner’s comments. “Like Pup [Clarke] said, purely for the timing…I thought that was a little bit odd,” he said.

At the time of his Test retirement, against Pakistan in January, Warner’s close friend Usman Khawaja said some of the aggravating behaviour from him before he was banned came from team instructions.

“He was getting told to play a certain way by the coaching staff and people around at certain points,” Khawaja said. “You’ve seen a very different David Warner since he’s come back in 2019. He’s done it his own way.”

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