A war of words has erupted between Aussie cricket legends over the treatment David Warner has faced over his life leadership ban stemming from the infamous ball-tampering scandal.
Test veteran Ian Healy, Simon O’Donnell, Damien Fleming and former skipper Michael Clarke have all spoken out over Warner’s reaction to a saga that has never really gone away since Cameron Bancroft rubbed a bit of sandpaper on a cricket ball in 2018.
Warner released an explosive statement on Instagram on Wednesday night, fearing a ‘public lynching’ if he was subjected to a public ‘trial’ over his appeal to have his leadership ban overturned.
Warner and many other high-profile cricket figures like Clarke and Healy have heavily criticised Cricket Australia’s decision to effectively outsource the appeals process to an independent panel, which wants to revisit the ball-tampering affair and make the evidence public.
David Warner, pictured with wife Candice and daughters Ivy Mae, Indi Rae and Isla Rose after a Test in 2018, released a statement on Wednesday announcing he was withdrawing his attempt to have his leadership ban overturned
Once that happened, it became clear to Warner that and his family with wife Candice would face yet another period of intense scrutiny if he went ahead with trying to get his leadership ban lifted.
Healy, one of Australian cricket’s most popular and respected figures, was full of praise for the way Warner had criticised that decision with his carefully thought-out statement.
‘He’s (Warner) prepared this 800-word document quite well, very well actually. Now, I would like to see a similar style response by the independent panel,’ he told SEN Queensland on Wednesday morning.
‘He has saved cricket here. That panel was going to air cricket’s problems. Why?
‘Don’t air those negotiations, get the job done no matter what it takes behind closed doors. I agree with David Warner that it doesn’t need to be in public unless I get convinced by their response today,’ said Healy.
Cricket Australia have already admitted they would have preferred it if the hearing was kept in house – though the question still remains as to why they would then entrust the process to a Counsel instead of conducting the review themselves.
119-Test veteran Ian Healy spoke out in support of Warner after his explosive statement
It is yet another case of Cricket Australia digging themselves further into a hole over their messy handling of an incident.
‘We are disappointed with this outcome as our intention was to give David the opportunity to demonstrate why his lifetime leadership ban should be varied at an independent hearing and we amended our Code of Conduct accordingly,’ a Cricket Australia spokesman said on Wednesday night.
‘We supported David’s wish for these discussions to be heard behind closed doors and respect his decision to withdraw his application.
‘David is a very senior and highly regarded member of the Australian team who has been a great ambassador for the game as a whole since his return from a year-long ban.’
Damien Fleming (centre, pictured with former Australian coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine) said on Channel 7’s broadcast of today’s Test that he would much rather be talking about the cricket than the events of 2018
Fleming and Clarke were both flummoxed by Cricket Australia’s handling of the situation, with the former saying he was ‘disappointed’ they didn’t make the decision themselves.
‘It is disappointing. We want to talk about the play and the Test match, (but) four and a half years later Cape Town is still lingering, isn’t it,’ Fleming said on Channel 7’s pre-match coverage of day one of the second Test match against the West Indies at Adelaide Oval.
‘The win-win for me would have been once the door got opened, to open it wide, (and) give him the chance to have a leadership role in Australian cricket.
‘At 36, that is unlikely in the Australian team, but certainly likely in the BBL. If he was captaining the Sydney Thunder, that is great for the tournament,’ said Fleming.
Clarke, who faced a similar amount of public scrutiny to Warner when he was skipper due to his profile off the field, explained why his former teammate might be even more aggrieved than he was previously.
Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke said he could understand why Warner was frustrated at the treatment and his life ban, particularly with Steve Smith due to lead Australia in this Test
‘You can tell he’s (Warner) disappointed and frustrated. I think the other thing that probably hurts a little bit more is the fact Steve Smith is going to captain this Test match,’ he said on Sky Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
‘I don’t know if it’s fair to make David Warner the complete scapegoat and say everyone else can go back to normal.
‘We’ll forgive you but we won’t forgive Davey. I’m not sure any of them should be involved in a leadership role.
‘It’s a tough one for Davey to swallow, rules in place for him and not for the others.’
When ‘Sandpapergate’ rocked cricket in 2018 after the incident at Newlands in Cape Town during the third Test of a spiteful series, Warner was found to be the ringleader who encouraged Cameron Bancroft to rub sandpaper on the ball.
David Warner and wife Candice, pictured at a launch for the Everest racing carnival in September, have both spoken out about Cricket Australia’s handling of the saga
David Warner conducted a tearful and carefully staged press conference when he returned to Australia in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in 2018
Warner was banned from international and domestic cricket involving Australia for a year, and banned from ever holding a leadership position again while Bancroft was suspended for nine months.
Smith was found to know of the plan but failed to prevent it, and as a result faced a two-year leadership ban in addition to one year out from the game at the top-level.
He’s since captained multiple times since, despite initial hesitancy, and O’Donnell, one of Australia’s best ODI all-rounders, said all three players were responsible for the continuing mess, not Cricket Australia or the culture of cricket in the country.
‘David Warner copped his right whack for what he did. The bit that I wonder where he’s at with it, is one of his statements was for cricket to air its dirty laundry.’ O’Donnell questioned on SEN Breakfast.
‘It’s not cricket’s dirty laundry, it’s David Warner’s dirty laundry. The situation was caused by David Warner and his co-conspirators (Steve Smith and Cam Bancroft), not cricket.
‘It’s David Warner’s problem. He was playing the game of cricket, the individual isn’t bigger than the game of cricket,’ said O’Donnell, who had previously made the same comment about Justin Langer whingeing about his treatment in recent weeks.
Simon O’Donnell said it was time Warner took responsibility for the 2018 ball-tampering incident instead of blaming Cricket Australia
O’Donnell probably won’t like what Warner’s wife Candice had to say on Thursday morning, with the former ironwoman slamming Cricket Australia the hardest of anyone to make a comment.
‘It’s just unnecessary … this (trial) was all about David talking about how he has reformed and the good that he’s done; but this (the trial) is just not what its about,’ she said on her Triple M breakfast show.
‘The fact there was a lack of player welfare, and no welfare about David and our family, speaks volumes.
‘It has affected us for so long and I’m pretty sure that everyone doesn’t want to continue talking about this … David has had enough,’ said a teary Candice Warner.
While Warner’s pursuit to overturn the lifetime leadership ban has ended, no doubt this is a saga that will continue to keep bubbling until the typical post-retirement biographies are released, and press for them is sought.
DAVID WARNER’S FULL STATEMENT
My family is more important to me than cricket.
Over the course of the past nearly five years since the events that occurred during the Third Test in Cape Town, even with all the humiliation and attacks that they have had to endure, I have enjoyed the unwavering support and love of my wife Candice and my three daughters, Ivy Mae, Indi Rae, and Isla Rose. They are my world.
Since that Test and even though my ban from leadership roles may never be lifted, I have taken it upon myself to reform, to rehabilitate and to transform my approach to the game.
I have served and been subject to a crushing, unprecedented, penalty that has horribly impacted me and my family for the past nearly five years – without the prospect of any relief until now.
On 21 November 2022, the Cricket Australia Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel (the Code of Conduct) was amended to permit players to apply for a modification to Long-Term Sanctions.
With the announcement of the amendment to the Code of Conduct, I held the hope and was encouraged, that I would be given a proper opportunity to demonstrate to the Review Panel that I have demonstrated my deep regret and remorse; and that my rehabilitation and transformation are profound.
With the encouragement of administrators and colleagues and in accordance with the rules under the Code of Conduct, on 25 November 2022 I submitted an application to Cricket Australia for a modification to my life-time ban from leadership positions in cricket.
I did so in good faith on the understanding that regular established procedures under the Code of Conduct would be followed.
I hoped I would be given the opportunity, under the established practice and procedure of the Code of Conduct that is reflected in the amendments, to demonstrate that I have satisfied the necessary requirements for a modification to my ban that I might be permitted to see out of the balance of my career without the yoke hanging around my neck and further anguish for my family.
However, despite my opposition and that of Cricket Australia, on Tuesday last week Counsel Assisting the Review Panel and the Review Panel took it upon themselves to concoct an irregular procedure (overturning presumptions and previous practice) for the determination of my application and establish a novel approach that would negatively impact the health and welfare of my family and the interests of the Australian cricket team.
In his submissions, Counsel Assisting made offensive and unhelpful comments about me that had absolutely no substantive purpose under the Code of Conduct.
Regrettably, the Review Panel acted contrary to the submissions of Cricket Australia and my lawyer and appeared to adopt virtually entirely the position of Counsel Assisting.
In effect, Counsel Assisting, and, it appears, to some extent the Review Panel, want to conduct a public trial of me and what occurred during the Third Test at Newlands.
They want to conduct a public spectacle to, in the Panel’s words, have a ‘cleansing’. I am not prepared for my family to be the washing machine for cricket’s dirty laundry.
The Rules of the Code of Conduct in relation to applications such as mine are clear. Article 10.7 states that the hearing is not an appeal of the original decision or a new review of the offence.
Counsel Assisting the Review Panel appeared to be determined to revisit the events of March 2018 and the Review Panel appears determined to expose me and my family to further humiliation and harm by conducting a media circus.
I note that the engagement of Counsel Assisting was terminated. Nonetheless, following the curiously irregular position adopted by the Review Panel, and in the interests of my family and Australian cricket, last Thursday I submitted a request for the Review Panel to revisit their procedural decision and at least apply a protocol that is consistent with established practice and procedure under the Code of Conduct. That request had the support of Cricket Australia.
Having had nearly a week to consider that proposal, today the Review Panel has decided to ignore the request in any meaningful way and has provided a dismissive rejection of the substantive matters.
It appears that the Panel has given no more than passing consideration to issues of player welfare and the interests of Australian cricket and is instead determined to conduct a public lynching.
Regrettably, I have no practical alternation at this point in time but to withdraw my application.
I am not prepared to subject my family or my teammates to further trauma and disruption by accepting a departure from the way in which my application should be dealt with pursuant to the Code of Conduct.
Some things are more important than cricket.