David Warner reveals true toll of leadership fight: 'Difficult'

Not even on the morning of the Boxing Day Test could David Warner get a reprieve from the fallout of his leadership ban appeal.

David Warner looks at the crowd as he walks from the MCG during the Boxing Day Test.
David Warner was still getting calls from his lawyers about his leadership ban on the morning of the Boxing Day Test, the opening batter says. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

David Warner has revealed he was still getting calls from lawyers even on the morning of the Boxing Day Test after choosing to abandon his attempt to reverse his lifetime leadership ban. Warner was left frustrated with Cricket Australia after the decision whether or not to overturn his 2018 ban was passed on to an independent panel.

The panel had aimed to hold a public hearing into Warner's ban, handed down for his role in Australia's memorable 'sandpaper' scandal which saw the likes of Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft handed shorter leadership bans. Smith has since captained Australia in a Test match, briefly taking over from current skipper Pat Cummins during the series against the West Indies.

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Warner publicly walked away from his attempt to overturn the ban prior to the Boxing Day Test, having heavily criticised Cricket Australia for what he considered a failure to offer him proper support. The 36-year-old said the saga had taken a toll on him since he began the process earlier in 2022.

The opening batter had also been under pressure to hit the scoreboard leading into the Boxing Day Test. He went some way towards silencing those critics with a sensational double-century in the first innings, his first time beyond 100 runs since January 2020.

Following Australia's series clinching innings and 192 run victory over South Africa, Warner said it had been somewhat of a relief to finally break through. He said it had been a difficult build-up to the Test summer, between the T20 World cup, his ban appeal and a relative lack of red ball preparation.

“I think it just takes its toll mentally I think like when we play big series ... the whole build up and suspense and we’ve gone through a (T20) World Cup and then we’re going into a test series without playing any red ball cricket as well,” Warner said. “And then I’ve got all that other stuff in the background happening. You know, I get a message the night before a Test, like these are things that you don’t want in the back of your mind, day two waking up, your lawyer texts you about something that has to be spoken about.

"These are things that you don’t want in your mind when you’re going to training or you’re going to the game so, for me it was just trying to get in the right frame of mind and I just couldn’t. It was it was difficult.

“And then when you’re out in the middle you’re trying to be as positive as you can. And as I said I was hitting them as well as I thought I could but I just getting no luck and you make your own luck in this game.”

Warner declares intention for Test future after retirement talk

Warner will be a figure in Australian cricket regardless of his immediate Test future, having committed to Australia's campaign at the Cricket World Cup in India next year. But when quizzed about his Test future, Warner said 'you never know' when asked if this would be his final Boxing Day Test.

"I've obviously committed to playing next year's World Cup. If I'm still feeling as fit as I can then I'll keep going for as long as I can," he said. "If I get that tap on the shoulder, then I'm going to have to go."

At the end of day two, which saw Warner retire hurt on 200 runs before being dismissed on the first ball he faced on day three, the 36-year-old said he and several media members had been discussing his career leading up to the match. The veteran opener said he had no doubt the timely double-century was among his best efforts.

David Warner gestures to a teammate while fielding in a Test match for Australia.
David Warner is keeping his cards close to his chest as far as his future in Test cricket is concerned. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

"I was going through that (his best knocks) the other day with a couple of the journos and that definitely is up there now," Warner said. "To go out there, a lot of pressure, I don't generally feel the pressure, I don't get nervous.

"But walking out here and telling my friends, 'I'm going out to play the way I want to, looking to score and have intent', and to deliver that in a Boxing Day Test which is the pinnacle as a kid ... to go out and execute that emphatically was awesome."

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