David Warner's hopes of captaining the Sydney Thunder in the BBL have been dashed after the team announced Jason Sangha as skipper on Monday. Cricket Australia recently changed its code of conduct to allow Warner to appeal the lifetime leadership ban he was hit with in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in 2018.
However the move hasn't come soon enough to allow Warner to captain the Thunder, with a decision about overturning the opening batter's lifetime ban still a way off. Warner had loomed as the most likely candidate to replace departing Thunder captain Usman Khawaja for the 2022/23 season.
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The 36-year-old will end a nine-year absence from the domestic T20 competition when he suits up for the Sydney side this season. It is believed he was convinced to return to the BBL by the opportunity to captain the Thunder if his leadership ban was lifted in time.
But that hasn't eventuated, with the Thunder instead opting to hand the reins to Sangha. According to AAP, the Thunder were unlikely to give Warner the captaincy even if his ban was overturned in time for the start of the BBL.
“We actually haven’t heard anything [from CA], and I don’t think there’s been a resolution there,” Thunder boss Andrew Gilchrist told the Sydney Morning Herald. “As far as we’re concerned, there hasn’t been a resolution with Dave’s ban, so we’ve gone with Jase Sangha ... Dave isn’t available, so he wasn’t considered in that regard."
The 23-year-old Sangha captained the Thunder briefly last year when Khawaja - who will play for Brisbane Heat this season - was on international duty and second-choice skipper Chris Green contracted Covid-19. A representative of the Thunder told AAP on Monday that Sangha had impressed coach Trevor Bayliss in his brief stint as captain and believed his time as NSW Blues vice-captain would serve as good preparation to lead the side this season.
"If (the captaincy) does fall on my shoulders, I'd love to do it. It's something that I'd be really thrilled to do," Sangha told AAP.
Sangha heaped praise on Warner when discussing how he'd helped him rise through the ranks of NSW cricket. "He taught me so much about the game and about the art of batting," Sangha said. "Whether you were playing first grade or fifth grade, he really made an effort to have a connection with everyone."
David Warner to help Jason Sangha in captaining Thunder
Sangha said Warner would be a vital sounding board when he captains the Thunder. "T20 cricket really is very fast paced, so to have someone with a level head who knows exactly what to do in certain situations, that will go a long way," he said.
"Someone like him can not just empower me but empower a lot of our younger batters about the actual art of batting in T20 cricket and also the tactics, the game awareness, and being really smart about field plays and little things like that. He just knows so much about the game."
Speaking to Yahoo Sport Australia on Monday, former Test captain Michael Clarke said Cricket Australia should overlook Warner when searching for leaders.
"Tactically Davey is very good. I've watched him do the IPL and he's been brilliant – one of the best – but at 36 years of age, I'd be very surprised if they go that way," Clarke said. "I don’t think the BBL is the right opportunity for Davey to captain. I know he hasn't been campaigning but he hasn’t shut it off either. I think this story should disappear, fade away.
"We should be promoting the youngsters as much as we can. We need to be finding leadership in our domestic cricket. There should be five, six, seven players that are in a position to take over a leadership role if it comes up. I'm not sure if we're working hard enough on that or see the importance of that."
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