David Warner was named Player of the Series in Australia’s 2-0 win over South Africa, but not everyone was happy with the decision.
The series concluded with a draw at the SCG, Australia extending their record in home Tests against teams not named India to 20 wins and three draws since their last defeat. There were several standout performers across the rubber, Steve Smith leading the run charts with 231 runs at 57.75, Travis Head passing 50 on three occasions and striking at over a run a ball and Pat Cummins taking 12 wickets at 16.91, including a five-for to seal the opener inside two days.
However, it was Warner who was named Player of the Series, despite only making it past 10 once in the series. He came into the tour under pressure for his place in the side, and that was only heightened after a dual failure in the first Test. In the second, his 100th Test match for Australia, Warner registered his first Test century since January 2020, and extended it to a double hundred before retiring hurt.
In the final Test match, with Australia only batting once, he made another low score. He ended up joint second on Australia’s run charts with Head and behind Smith, while Usman Khawaja averaged close to 70, boosted by an unbeaten 195 in the third Test.
The decision to name Warner Player of the Series came under scrutiny from several in the Australian press.
David Warner is probably the first batter in history to be named player of the series with a median score of 6.5
— Daniel Cherny (@DanielCherny) January 8, 2023
David Warner finishes with 213 runs, equal with Trav Head and behind Steve Smith (231). 200 of those came in one innings … baffled how he's won player of the series. #AUSvSA
— James McKern (@jLmcKern) January 8, 2023
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) January 8, 2023
Travis Head made runs in every Test, including the most important innings of the series in Brisbane, and did it at a strike rate of 100 🤷 #AUSvSA
— Daniel Brettig 🏏 (@danbrettig) January 8, 2023
Steve Smith player of the series for mine, from Cummins and Head. A bit weird for Warner to win it but I can't get all riled up about it, he was the dominant figure in one of the two Tests Australia won, it's not like they gave it to Dean Elgar or something.
— Brydon Coverdale (@brydoncoverdale) January 8, 2023
According to Cummins, the Australia captain, even Warner himself was surprised at receiving the gong. “He said it himself – ‘oh, that’s surprising’,” Cummins said. “I heard someone say it was [very close] between a few different players and Davey got it in the end. Whenever someone plays it’s not the first thing they put on their mantle, Player of the Series, so it is what it is.”