He came, he scored, and he conquered! For Australia’s David Warner, Indian Premier League 2019 (IPL 2019) was an important tournament; it was opportunity to shake off the dirt of a ball-tampering scandal which had got him and compatriot Steve Smith banned from international and domestic cricket for a year. He was out to reclaim the respect of cricket fans, and that he made known from the very first appearance in IPL 2019.
Warner’s thirst for runs was apparent from the very first strike of bat. As he toiled between the 22 yards of the cricket pitch, nothing seemed enough for the swashbuckling southpaw. He kept picking quick singles and doubles when boundaries were difficult to come by. He stood alone while wickets tumbled at the other end.
David Warner's daughter could usually be seen in the crowd supporting the batsmen during IPL 2019It was a different David Warner you saw every time he raised his bat after a fifty or century. He would search for his folk in the crowd and thank them for their support. His daughter would be seen holding a slate with “Go Daddy” scratched on it, and the batsman would just smile along with his teammates.
Warner played only 12 matches this season before returning home to join his national side in their preparation for the ICC World Cup 2019. But in these 12 matches alone, he scored enough runs to ensure he would remain the Orange Cap winner for the entire tournament. Thanks to his 692 runs, with a century and 8 fifties, his team, Sunrisers Hyderabad, had a gala during the league stage and even managed to make it to playoffs.
Fall from grace
A year ago, one unfortunate incident had changed everything for Australian cricket. In March 2018, Australian skipper Smith, his deputy Warner and their teammate Cameron Bancroft had been found guilty in a ball-tampering scandal. In the third Australia-South Africa Test match in Cape Town, Bancroft had been caught by television cameras ''trying to alter the condition of the ball'' with sandpaper to make it swing in flight.
Warner had been handed a twelve-month suspension from all international and domestic cricket and told he would never again be considered for a leadership position within the team. Later, Smith and Warner were also banned by the BCCI from IPL 2018.
During a press conference last year, Warner had apologised for his action and hoped he would again earn the respect of his fans. "I want to sincerely apologise for betraying your trust in me. I have let you down badly. I hope in time I can find a way to repay you for all you've given me and possibly earn your respect again," he had said.
The rise and rise of Warner and Hyderabad
Sunrisers Hyderabad had won the IPL 2016 title under Warner's captaincy. The skipper himself had scored 848 runs in 17 matches and been second only to Virat Kohli’s 974 runs. In 2017, he had again won the Orange cap, even as SRH had ended the season at the third position.
In the absence of Warner, Kane Williamson took charge as captain in 2018 and managed to take the team into the final but the side was beaten by Chennai Super Kings in the final tie.
Returning from a crisis of sorts, Warner wove a magic of sorts with his bat in IPL 2019 — a magic that not only won many hearts but may also have helped him escape fans’ criticism for his past. But there still remains a question — how much is too much?