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Dave Warner: From a housing commission flat to the cricket ball-tampering scandal ‘mastermind’

When Dave Warner was a youngster in Matraville, in Sydney’s east, it wasn’t the leafy suburb where posh, public school cricketers are brought up learning the game.

But there outside the housing commission block where he grew up, Warner learnt his craft and the uncompromising win-at-all costs that led him to the pinnacle of cricket.

Repeatedly hitting a frayed tennis ball against a brick wall, there were mannerisms of the great Don Bradman in his training – but Warner was never going to be perfect.

As a youngster with Sydney Coastal and later Eastern Suburbs Cricket clubs, trouble was something Warner was often central to.

Even back then Australia’s most notorious sledger was at the top of his game, with a former junior opponent remembering how once Warner called him a ‘f***ing spastic’.

Trouble surrounded him as a youngster in the then working-class suburb. In fact one day, when still in primary school, a man was murdered on the nature strip of his flat.

A 12-month suspension isn’t the first blemish of his career, but the revelation he was the ‘mastermind’ behind the call to cheat has some questioning if it will be his last. 

 

Ever since he was a youngster Dave Warner (pictured) was bound to be a star of international cricket. ‘He was a very talented junior, batting left and right handed – often in the same over,’ a club stalwart recalled

Dave Warner (pictured) has been slapped with a 12-month suspension for his role in the ball-tampering scandal that has engulfed Australian cricket

A young Warner painting in the backyard of his housing commission flat in Matraville, in Sydney's east

Warner (pictured), who grew up in the Sydney suburb of Matraville, has been slapped with a 12-month suspension over the ball-tampering scandal that has engulfed Australian cricket

Welcome to the good life: Warner and wife Candice enjoy a ride in a McLaren earlier this year

Welcome to the good life: Warner and wife Candice enjoy a ride in a McLaren earlier this year

His year 12 report card from 2004 observed the following: ‘Dave only wants to be the class clown… without a complete change of attitude these results will not improve’.

Soon after cementing his place in the Test team in 2011, the role of clown changed to that of enforcer.

That was a role he’d held since his junior days, with fierce sledging coming naturally to him from the very beginning.

Mark Coles, a stalwart of his junior Sydney Coastal club, said stories of a talented blonde youngster hitting the ball to all corners of the field are still told to juniors at the club.

‘He was a very talented junior, batting left and right handed – often in the same over – and it used to drive the bowlers mad,’ Mr Coles said. 

‘He’d play certain shots better one way than the other. He was in your face kid, cocky and confident, much of what you see today.

‘No, he wasn’t always easy to manage, but he was a very good cricketer and a lovable boy.’

As a kid ‘all he had’ was often not much. Warner would work at Woolworths packing shelves for $12-an-hour, with his parents unable to afford to pay him pocket money.

Warner would spend hours hitting a frayed tennis ball against a brick wall, similar to Sir Don, who spent hours hitting a golf ball against a water tank using a cricket stump. 

One day, when still in primary school, Warner walked outside to find a man had been murdered on the nature strip outside his housing commission flat.

Mr Coles believes it was these events that instilled the tough edge in the cricket star that eventually led to his downfall.

Warner (front row, second from right) was a talented cricketer from an early age, playing in a representative side alongside current Australia star Usman Khawaja (directly left of Warner)

Warner (front row, second from right) was a talented cricketer from an early age, playing in a representative side alongside current Australia star Usman Khawaja (directly left of Warner)

Warner grew up in a housing commission flat in Matraville, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, before going on to become one of the world's top cricketers

Warner grew up in a housing commission flat in Matraville, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, before going on to become one of the world’s top cricketers

An investigation into the incident uncovered that Warner (right) was the instigator, while Steve Smith (left) and Cameron Bancroft were also punished over their roles

An investigation into the incident uncovered that Warner (right) was the instigator, while Steve Smith (left) and Cameron Bancroft were also punished over their roles

His year 12 report card from 2004 (pictured) observed the following: 'Dave only wants to be the class clown... without a complete change of attitude these results will not improve'.

His year 12 report card from 2004 (pictured) observed the following: ‘Dave only wants to be the class clown… without a complete change of attitude these results will not improve’.

‘There’s a feeling of sadness around the club that it has come to this for him,’ he said.

‘Usman Khawaja was at the club at the same time as Dave and he was a very different character, much quieter.’ 

‘I sent an email out to all the players a couple of days ago reminding them what it is that the club’s about, what we represent and what our motto is – “Trust, respect and humility”.’

After rising to prominence with his form in Twenty20 cricket, Warner was rewarded with a Baggy Green against New Zealand in 2011.

Warner quickly became a star, making his name attacking with the bat and chirping away from his usual fielding position at point. 

His attitude earned him the nickname of ‘The Bull’, but The Bull is chirping no longer.

Warner distanced himself from teammates in South Africa in recent days as the ball-tampering scandal engulfed Australian cricket.

With his long history of priors and in his role as vice-captain, Warner was reportedly asked to be a fall man for his captain Steve Smith and youngster Cameron Bancroft.

But having long been the one to take the blame for his teammates, Warner this time drew a line in the sand.

The fall out of the scandal will see Warner (pictured) lose millions through endorsements and playing contracts

The fall out of the scandal will see Warner (pictured) lose millions through endorsements and playing contracts

On Wednesday, as it emerged that Warner was the man behind the plan, he was dumped by his sponsor LG who he appeared in TV ads for

On Wednesday, as it emerged that Warner was the man behind the plan, he was dumped by his sponsor LG who he appeared in TV ads for

Warner has also been banned from playing in the Indian Premier League where he held a $2.4 million contract with Sunrirser Hyderabad

Warner has also been banned from playing in the Indian Premier League where he held a $2.4 million contract with Sunrirser Hyderabad

Removing himself from a team WhatsApp group, he cut a lonely figure in the foyer of the team hotel and on the team bus, with only wife Candice seen by his side.

It’s a far cry from the last time the Test team toured South Africa. Back then, in 2014, he was the top scorer in the series with 200 runs more than the next best batsman. 

His incredible form had coincided with a change in attitude that saw he go from The Bull to The Reverend among his teammates. 

‘I don’t know where they’ve taken the old Davey Warner, but I quite like this new version’, his teammate Aaron Finch said towards the end of that tour.

‘After Sri Lanka, Davey was obviously pretty down … and now he’s turned the tables and gone ultra-positive.

‘It’s something that is actually rubbing off on the boys. He’s just been ultra-positive around the group and he finds a positive in every scenario.’

But in the most recent series you could have been forgiven for thinking South Africa had swapped the traditional cricket whites for all red outfits – ‘The Bull’ was back.

In the first Test, after being instrumental in the run out of AB de Villiers, he unleashed a spray on his batting partner Aiden Markram.

Warner has been central to controversy thoughout the series, including having to be held back by teamates as tensions between him and opponent Quinton de Kock threatened to boil over

Warner has been central to controversy thoughout the series, including having to be held back by teamates as tensions between him and opponent Quinton de Kock threatened to boil over

De Kock had reportedly made remarks about Warner's wife Candice's infamous toilet tryst with rugby star Sonny Bill Williams at a Sydney pub in 2007

De Kock had reportedly made remarks about Warner’s wife Candice’s infamous toilet tryst with rugby star Sonny Bill Williams at a Sydney pub in 2007

 The Warner's reportedly have a property portfolio worth $10million throughout Sydney's east 

 The Warner’s reportedly have a property portfolio worth $10million throughout Sydney’s east 

By the time day four came around he was a marked man, copping abuse from the crowd about his wife Candice’s toilet tryst with Sonny Bill Williams in 2007.

When opponent Quinton de Kock reportedly joined in on the attack, Warner had to be held back by his teammates as he threatened to boil over in the dressing rooms.

And boil over they did in the third Test, with the vice-captain the instigator of a plan to use sandpaper to rough the ball in an effort to make it reverse swing.

Warner reportedly ‘developed a plan’ and ‘instructed a junior player (Bancroft)’ as to ‘how a ball could be artificially altered’.

It was a move that is set to cost him millions of dollars. 

In the days since the scandal broke he has lost his $2.4million contract with IPL side Sunrisers Hyderabad, as well as his sponsorship deals with electronics giant LG and sports brand Asics.  

His sponsorships with Toyota, Channel Nine and Gray Nicolls remain in tact, so far.

The scandal also threatens the popularity of his children’s book series, The Kaboom Kid, for which he is paid a royalty on every book sold. 

It is not known how much of his $900,000-a-year Cricket Australia contract he is set to receive.

Candice and David Warner pose with their daughters Ivy (left) and Indi (right)

Candice and David Warner pose with their daughters Ivy (left) and Indi (right)

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was taken to task by Warner's wife Candice after he made disparaging comments on Twitter about her husband

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was taken to task by Warner’s wife Candice after he made disparaging comments on Twitter about her husband

A disgraced Steve Smith is led through a South African airport by police as he boards a flight to Australia on Wednesday night

A disgraced Steve Smith is led through a South African airport by police as he boards a flight to Australia on Wednesday night

Warner has distanced himself from teammates in South Africa in recent days (pictured), upset at being asked to take the fall for his captain Steve Smith and youngster Cameron Bancroft

Warner has distanced himself from teammates in South Africa in recent days (pictured), upset at being asked to take the fall for his captain Steve Smith and youngster Cameron Bancroft

Warner and wife Candice reportedly own a $10million property portfolio with homes throughout Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

His financial success saw Warner able to pay off the debt of his parents Howard and Lorraine, as well as purchasing them a nice flat in Matraville. 

‘David grew up with very little. When you grow up hard you appreciate it more than if you have money all your life,’ Howard told media in 2013.

‘If you are filthy rich you don’t bloody appreciate anything… We never thought he could earn such big dollars but he is working his guts out and it is paying dividends now. 

‘He’s a bloody good kid. It helped us out something terrible. He’s basically just put me into retirement so I can go around and watch him play.’

But with the disgraced batsman now only allowed to play grade cricket, it seems Warner will have to drive just a few suburbs to watch his son this year.

Warner and Smith will only be allowed to play for their respective grade cricket sides until their 12-month ban is up

Warner and Smith will only be allowed to play for their respective grade cricket sides until their 12-month ban is up



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