The disgraced Aussie duo of David Warner and Steve Smith added little value to their sides during a disappointing T20 return, writes SIMON LEWIS.
Life must have been good for Warner during the morning session of the third Test at Newlands on Friday 23 March 2018. Australia had the Ashes, the series against South Africa was level at 1-1, Australia were 43 without loss in the sixth over and sandpaper had yet to debut in Test cricket (not officially, anyway).
Warner was on fire, getting off the mark early with a four from Kagiso Rabada’s first over, then slapping the bowler for four consecutive fours off the last three balls of his second over. Warner kept swinging and added a four and a six off the next two balls of Rabada’s third over. Five boundaries in five balls – Warner rules, Warner rocks.
At that moment, Mother Cricket pulled the plug on Warner (and Australian cricket).
The next ball Warner was cleaned up by Rabada. Stumps everywhere, Warner nowhere. That ball was later recognised as the ball of the season, and what a ball. When the Proteas went back in to bat the Aussies were caught using sandpaper to tamper with the ball… and life as Warner knew it would never be the same.
An endless stream of tears, apologies, and reprimands followed… along with lengthy bans for the guilty trio of Cameron Bancroft, Smith and Warner. And then came the invitation to Canada’s T20 party.
Personally, I feel it was wrong for them to be welcomed back into the cricketing fold when serving a ban for breaking one of cricket’s most sacred moral codes, but one understands the motivations of the Canadians as well as Smith and Warner. We also saw the effect of the ban on them, with both players flattering to deceive in an environment in which they should have cashed in like Lance Klusener at a U13 T20 tournament.
Their form was, frankly, laughable.
Warner & Smith batting in Global T20 Canada 2018
|Score||David Warner||Score||Steve Smith|
|1||Hawks v Tigers||–||61||Nationals v Knights|
|4||Hawks v Knights||–||10||Nationals v Royals|
|1||Hawks v Nationals||–||3||Nationals v Hawks|
|6||Hawks v W. Indies B||–||55*||
Nationals v W. Indies B
|0||Hawks v Royals||–||3||Nationals v Tigers|
|42||Hawks v Royals||–||35||Nationals v Knights|
|55||Hawks v Royals|
|0||Hawks v Knights|
What will be the effect on both players of these lengthy bans? Will they be ruined as cricketers? One doubts that, as they have too much talent and skill. Are their bans too long? Yes, I think so, given the precedence of previous bans and the ICC’s grey areas around ball-tampering.
Their failings also highlight the importance of being around the world’s top players, sharing nets and practice sessions with them. That unquestionably raises a player’s level of play, and their form bears testament to this fact. Recognising this fact should also humble all international cricketers. Yes, they are better than the rest, but the opportunities they have play a massive role in keeping them top of their game.
Justice is served
Most importantly, justice has been served emotionally on both Smith and Warner. They have been humbled and humiliated in the press for their cheating at Newlands but, probably more important for them as cricketers, they have been humbled on the sparsely populated Canadian cricket fields.
Their failures with the bat are the best punishment for them both, as it has humbled them as cricketers and as men. Punishment served, in my mind.
Both will return as better men now from their Canadian dry spells and, if the cricketing world is lucky, they might even come back as better cricketers.
Leading batsmen in Global T20 Canada 2018
|1||LMP Simmons (WH)||321||66||45.9||140.8||0 – 1|
|2||HE van der Dussen (VK)||255||83*||51.0||118.1||0 – 1|
|3||SE Rutherford (WI B)||230||134*||32.9||172.9||1 – 0|
|4||BR McDermott (WH)||224||68||37.3||130.2||0 – 2|
|5||MC Henriques (MT)||221||50||36.8||113.9||0 – 2|
|8||AD Russell (VK)||185||54*||185.0||217.6||0 – 1|
|9||CAK Walton (VK)||183||54*||26.1||156.4||0 – 2|
|15||SPD Smith (TN)||167||61.0||33.4||119.3||0 – 2|
|17||DA Miller (WH)||151||60.0||30.2||165.9||0 – 1|
|18||Babar Hayat (VK)||146||65.0||36.5||175.9||0 – 1|
|20||CH Gayle (VK)||144||63.0||20.6||108.3||0 – 2|
|21||E Lewis (VK)||143||96.0||35.8||155.4||0 – 1|
|26||F Behardien (ER)||118||62.0||23.6||114.6||0 – 1|
|28||DA Warner (WH)||109||55.0||13.6||114.7||0 – 1|
|31||Saad Bin Zahar (VK)||92||79*||92.0||146.0||0 – 1|
The Knights have six batters in the top 21 in the leading runs-scorer list, which accounts for their dominance throughout the tournament. The Knights’ Andre Russell from the West Indies had a particularly significant impact thanks to his strike-rate of 217.6, which is more than 40 runs per 100 balls higher than the next best strike-rate in Global T20 Canada 2018.
Aussie stars Smith and Warner made little impact on the tournament, with Smith’s Toronto Nationals finishing bottom of the table, while Warner’s Winnipeg Hawks finished in third spot. Warner’s batting was dismal, while Smith scratched around at levels of relative mediocrity.
As two of the world’s highest-rated batters, their failings highlight the challenge of being away from competitive cricket for a lengthy period. The effect of being away from International cricket for a year will be interesting to monitor, although noises in the media are that there are moves to reduce their bans.
Leading bowlers in Global T20 Canada 2018
|1||SS Cottrell (VK)||16||4/19||14.3||8.2||10.3||2||0|
|2||Fawad Ahmed (VK)||14||3/22||15.3||7.6||12.0||0||0|
|3||SL Malinga (MT)||13||3/11||11.8||6.4||11.0||0||0|
|4||FH Edwards (WH)||11||4/19||14.3||6.9||12.4||1||0|
|5||PM Siddle (MT)||11||4/13||15.5||9.4||9.9||1||0|
|6||OC McCoy (WI B)||11||4/22||22.2||9.3||14.3||1||0|
|7||TG Southee (VK)||10||3/20||23.3||9.3||15.0||0||0|
|8||AD Russell (VK)||10||3/17||23.9||8.5||16.9||0||0|
|9||Ali Khan (WH)||10||2/18||24.5||8.2||17.9||0||0|
|10*||Saad Bin Zafar (VK)||8||3/21||20.0||8.1||14.8||0||0|
(* = joint 10th spot)
With five bowlers in the Top 10 of leading wicket-takers, the Knights showed the value of bowling opponents out and taking key wickets during the final flurry for runs, while still bowling economically. Having two bowlers in the top spots shows the importance of having two leading bowlers in a team.
Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images