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Shane Watson: David Warner has served his time, it’s ‘absurd’ that he’s not allowed to captain Australia

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

David Warner received a lifetime banned from leading Australia following his involvement in the ball-tampering saga in 2018, but Shane Watson believes that he has “served his time” and should be allowed to captain again.

Warner, who was considered responsible for devising the plan to alter the condition of the ball in Newlands against South Africa, faced a number of repercussions, including receiving a year’s ban from all forms of cricket in Australia. Unlike Steve Smith, who was the captain of the side during the Test, Warner was also suspended from leading the international or any Australian domestic side ever again. The left-hander, who was Australia’s vice-captain during the fateful series, had previously led the side in 12 white-ball games, including nine T20Is.

The opener has had a long run as skipper in the Indian Premier League, where he showed his captaincy mettle for Sunrisers Hyderabad from 2015 till 2017 before he took up the reins again in 2020. The franchise ended sixth in 2015, but entered the playoffs in every other season under Warner, including winning the title in 2016.

Watson, speaking on The Grade Cricketer, explained that Warner has been “severely punished” for his past actions and that he should be allowed to lead the national team again if he’s the right person for the job. “He’s a leader, he’s led Sunrisers Hyderabad to a lot of success,” Watson said. “He’s got a great understanding of the game. This is my opinion and I know this is an opinion within Australian cricket in certain parts is that he served his time.

“Yes he made a mistake, and was involved in a big mistake in Australian cricket but he’s been severely punished in so many ways across the board, whether it’s been the way they just hung him out to dry, the financial impact that it had on him as well. Just publicly, he’s been absolutely smashed across the board so he’s definitely done his time. Everyone makes mistakes. Some are more public than others and some are a little bit worse than others, but you’re allowed to forgive. I think it’s absurd that he’s not allowed to captain a team whether it’s a Big Bash team or whether it’s an Australian team if he’s the right person at the right time.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. He’s served his time, everyone makes mistakes – some are more public than others.”

Whether Warner is allowed to captain Australia is of particular pertinence because of the poor form of Aaron Finch, Australia’s current white-ball captain. Finch, who led Australia to the T20 World Cup title in 2021, has scored 592 runs in 23 innings at a strike rate of 119.11 since the start of last year. In the T20 World Cup, Finch made 135 runs at an average of 19.28, striking at just over 116. In IPL 2022, Finch, playing for Kolkata Knight Riders, made 86 runs in five games at an average of 17.20.

Watson suggested that, if Finch’s struggles continue, Australia should drop him from the national side.

“Unfortunately right now, the way he’s batting and what I’ve seen during this IPL, he’s batting nowhere near his best,” Watson said. “I believe, if he’s not scoring runs in the lead up to the T20 World Cup, you can’t pick him, because at the moment he’s so far out of touch.

“No matter how good your captaincy skills are, I just think if he continues about the way he is, it would be a big liability going, especially as an opener. I believe that it should be the teams picked and then the captain gets picked from there that’s especially if you’re a long way out of touch.”

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