David Warner's staggering move after wife's comments about BBL

Steve Smith and David Warner, pictured here celebrating after Australia's Ashes triumph in 2017.
Steve Smith and David Warner celebrate after Australia's Ashes triumph in 2017. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

David Warner's stunning return to the BBL with the Sydney Thunder is even more remarkable given his wife's recent comments that he'd never play in the domestic T20 league ever again.

Warner announced on Sunday that his nine-year exile from the BBL is over after he signed a two-year deal with the Thunder that will allow him to play for them when not representing Australia.

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His signature is a major coup for Cricket Australia, who have poured a reported $8 million into player recruitment for the upcoming season in a bid to revive the flagging competition.

Warner, a swashbuckling opener, has the potential to bring the kind of crowds the BBL enjoyed at the height of its popularity.

The left-hander has played just three matches in the history of the BBL, having scored 101 not out for the Thunder in the tournament's inaugural game and playing his last in the 2013-14 season for the Sydney Sixers.

The 35-year-old's return comes after months of negotiations with cricket bosses and is a major backflip after it appeared he was set to join the lucrative new T20 league in the UAE.

It also comes after wife Candice suggested last year that her husband would never play BBL again - partly because of the length of the tournament and also due to the fact he is banned from holding a leadership position at any level of Australian cricket.

Warner was hit with the lifetime leadership ban after he was dubbed the architect of the ball-tampering scandal in 2018.

“It is disappointing because at this stage, when David decides to retire from Test cricket, he won’t play Big Bash,” Candice Warner said in December last year.

“And that’s really disappointing for the Australian fans and kids and anyone who loves T20 cricket - the fact that David Warner will never play Big Bash again.

“You also have to consider that there’s so many leagues around the world that are shorter than the Big Bash.

“The Big Bash is a very long tournament. There are tournaments in Dubai in January that may be a better option with the family. David can still be with us Christmas and fly to Dubai early January for a shorter period of time."

David Warner, pictured here with wife Candice and their daughters at the MCG in 2021.
David Warner with wife Candice and their daughters at the MCG in 2021. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

But speaking on Sunday, Warner said his family helped convince him it was time to return to the BBL.

“My ‘girls’ have told me that they’d love to watch me play at home and in the BBL,” he said.

“It will be great for us to be a part of the BBL as a family, and it is something that I am really looking forward to sharing with them.”

Addressing his leadership ban, Warner said he was open to having a conversation with CA officials.

The Thunder said on Sunday that no decision has been made on their captaincy for the upcoming season after Usman Khawaja moved north to the Brisbane Heat.

"That hasn't been brought to the table (by the Thunder)," Warner said.

"It's upon the (Cricket Australia) board to reach out to me and open the doors and I can sit down and have an honest conversation with them.

"The board has changed since back in 2018 when all those sanctions were dealt. It will be great to have a conversation with them and see where we are at."

David Warner, pictured here in action for the Sydney Thunder in the BBL in 2013.
David Warner in action for the Sydney Thunder in the BBL in 2013. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

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Warner said he also hopes his return to the BBL will help ensure local players stay in the Australian system going forward and ignore the riches being offered from rival T20 leagues around the world.

CA's TV rights are up for negotiation in the next two years, while bickering continues with the Seven Network over claims of a drop in quality of the BBL.

It means the competition is at a crucial juncture, bringing in greater foreign talent in next week's overseas draft while also trying to free up January for Australia's multi-format stars to take part.

"I know it is important and I know that Cricket Australia and other players and the future generation will benefit from me playing," Warner said.

"I am almost at the back end of my career, I don't know how much time I have left.

"So for me it is important to give back to our game and make sure it is in a good place come the next domestic TV rights deal.

"It's about making sure the next generation of players are coming through the right path. That's through playing cricket for Australia.

"Test cricket is the pinnacle. I want kids to aspire to play Test cricket. It is important for us big guys at the top to give back as much as I can."

with AAP

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