David Warner hopes to be remembered for good and bad but knows Sandpapergate tarnishes legacy

Headshot of Aaron Kirby
Aaron KirbyThe West Australian
David Warner hopes he can be remembered as the cricketer that helped change the way Australia played the game.
Camera IconDavid Warner hopes he can be remembered as the cricketer that helped change the way Australia played the game. Credit: Supplied

David Warner says he will always be the one to “cop it” over Sandpapergate as he revealed the toll the scandal had taken on his career and how “one can only absorb (so much)“ when under constant criticism.

Warner is undoubtedly one of Australia’s greatest multi-format players, averaging in the mid-40s in both Test and one-day cricket, as well as sitting on 49 international centuries.

However, he is synonymous with the ball tampering fallout from the 2018 Test series against South Africa.

He, Steve Smith and Cam Bancroft were all banned for their roles in the plot to use sandpaper on the ball, and as Warner enters his final fortnight as an international cricketer, he has reflected on how the incident impacted his career.

“Yeah, look, I think it’s going to be inevitable that when people talk about me in 20 or 30 years’ time, there will always be that. There will always be that Sandpaper scandal,” Warner told News Corp from Antigua ahead of Australia’s first super-eights World Cup clash.

“My back was always up against the wall when I came back, and I knew that. I copped my fair share over my career.

“Coming back since (the 12-month ban), I’ve probably been the only one that’s ever copped a lot of flak, from whether it’s people who don’t like the Australian cricket team or don’t like me.

“I’ve always been that person who has copped it.

Steve Smith and David Warner (right).
Camera IconSteve Smith and David Warner (right). Credit: Nick Potts/PA

“OK, it’s fine if they want to do that, but I always feel like I’ve taken a lot of pressure off a lot of guys as well, and I think, understandably, I’ve been that person to be able to absorb that.

“But one can only absorb (so much).

“For me, it’s great to go out knowing I’m not going to cop it any more.

“ … I learnt a lot in that time when I came back as well. Certain things and certain people are protected differently as well.

“I felt I had great support from, especially our coaching group now, and selectors have been great. All in all, I’ve had a privileged career; since 2018, I’ve really enjoyed that time coming back and just being around the guys and training hard and working as hard as I can.”

While ball tampering is a minor offence in the ICC guidelines, with the cricketing body only handing out fines and one-match bans, Cricket Australia made an example of the trio.

And Warner says he believes it was blown out of proportion, particularly when politicians became involved, using NFL superstar Tom Brady’s Deflategate - where the legendary quarterback had footballs deliberately deflated to make them easier to throw - as an example.

“The Tom Brady thing with Deflategate, it sort of blew over. But (Sandpapergate) with the Australian Prime Minister (Malcolm Turnbull) and his cabinet deflecting upon cricket – there was a lot going on in the politics world (in terms of pressure),” Warner said.

“The focus shifted towards the Australian cricket team. It was difficult. That was difficult.

“I’ve just knuckled down and done as well as I can, and I’ve copped my fair share of all that.”

Warner added while he knew he would never escape the scandal, he hoped cricket fans would be able to separate the man from the cricketer.

“For me, if they’re real cricket tragics and they love cricket, and my closest supporters, they will always see me as that cricketer,” he said.

“Someone who tried to change the game. Someone who tried to follow in the footsteps of the openers before me and tried to score runs at a great tempo and change Test cricket in a way.

 David Warner of Australia, his wife Candice Warner and their daughters Indi and Ivy.
Camera Icon David Warner of Australia, his wife Candice Warner and their daughters Indi and Ivy. Credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

“Be that person who went from Twenty20 cricket to play Test cricket – batting at No.6 and then opening.

“For me, hopefully, I can be remembered for that, but I understand 2018, it always comes up, and it’s unfortunate – but it is what it is.

“I’ve been super impressed with where I’ve come from. My family, my wife (Candice Warner) and daughters, my mum and dad, and Candice’s parents, they’ve helped me get to where I am now from 2018 specifically.

“We’ve all ridden the highs and lows together.”

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