Aus­tralian cricket’s ‘ bad boy’ comes of age

Bad boy Warner’s com­ing of age re­warded with lead­er­ship

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN HORNE

DAVID Warner is back in Birm­ing­ham, the scene of his in­fa­mous in­ci­dent with Joe Root.

And the proof of just how far the ex­plo­sive opener has come over the past two years was there for all to see on the fi­nal day of Aus­tralia’s tour match against Der­byshire.

Warner is next in line to be vice- cap­tain of his coun­try.

With Michael Clarke off the field for pe­ri­ods of time and Steve Smith not play­ing, Warner was given the keys to the na­tional team.

It was just a cameo, but it was the strong­est pos­si­ble in­di­ca­tion that when the time comes for Smith to take over the reins, “the at­tack dog” Warner will be his deputy.

Cricket Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive James Suther­land la­belled the glanc­ing blow Warner landed on Root’s fake beard- clad chin in the Birm­ing­ham Walk­a­bout on the eve of the last Ashes se­ries a “de­spi­ca­ble act’’.

That Warner’s cards were marked by the boss never to hold an of­fi­cial lead­er­ship po­si­tion in the Aus­tralian cricket team seemed as­sured.

Even as re­cently as this last sum­mer, Suther­land strongly con­demned Warner’s “speak English” com­ment to In­dian Ro­hit Sharma, or­der­ing the ex­plo­sive bats­man to “stop look­ing for trou­ble’’.

When Clarke was in­jured in Ade­laide and Aus­tralia needed a new cap­tain for the rest of the Test se­ries against In­dia, the sug­ges­tion Warner could be a po­ten­tial can­di­date to deputise was never taken se­ri­ously.

It was Smith all the way, even though he was younger and vastly less ex­pe­ri­enced than his NSW team­mate.

But Warner at least de­served to be in the con­ver­sa­tion, and his el­e­va­tion in Derby is ev­i­dence of how enor­mously he’s ma­tured over the past two years.

In 2013 Warner was also em­broiled in a Twit­ter tirade with two Aus­tralian jour­nal­ists, these days he’s happy to sim­ply laugh off an in­flam­ma­tory head­line.

Now a com­mit­ted fam­ily man, Warner has got his pri­or­i­ties right and life is in per­spect tive. If he catches sight of the Walk­a­bout this time it will be walk­ing past with the sun still up and a pram out in front.

On the field, Warner hasn’t l lost his cheeky and some­times abra­sive edge, but he’s smarter about how he con­ducts him­self. The 28- year- old’s comingo of- age has also ar­rived with tremen­dous tim­ing.

Se­nior play­ers Shane Wat­son and Brad Haddin look to have played their last Tests, and although Clarke is still go­ing strong, the fact the classy skip­per has al­ready re­tired from one- day cricket sug­gests he has more cap­taincy years be­hind him than in front.

The face of the team is chang­ing, and Warner has turned his ca­reer around to the point where if a lead­er­ship op­por­tu­nity comes, he’s there to take it.

The sight of Warner di­rect­ing traf­fic from first slip might have seemed sur­real as his team­mates were happy to joke at his ex­pense. “He cer­tainly en­joyed it – he put a few of us in our place, which is al­ways nice,” said Mitchell Marsh.

Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES

Chris Rogers. STRAIGHT BAT: David Warner has tem­pered his volatile be­hav­iour in re­cent times.

How the English press cov­ered Warner’s fight in 2013.

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