David Warner has become the latest player to take aim at the packed schedule for Australia's Test cricket stars, after seeing his Sydney Thunder side crash out of the BBL finals in dramatic circumstances on Friday night. Warner's men were knocked out after losing a rain-affected eliminator against the Brisbane Heat by eight runs, courtesy of the controversial DLS method.
Warner's Test teammate Usman Khawaja starred for the visitors on a soggy Friday night in Sydney, belting 94 runs to steer the Heat into Sunday's next finals match against the Melbourne Renegades. It's since emerged that Khawaja's availability for the match could be in doubt, as he ways up his own packed schedule against his commitment to his family.
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Khawaja and Warner are part of the Aussie Test squad which is departing for the upcoming Test tour of India on Tuesday, with both to attend the Allan Border Medal the night before. While Warner's BBL cameo ended on Friday night, the star opener admits he'd rather spend quality time at home with his wife and kids before flying out to India, rather than attend a Cricket Australia awards night.
Warner has had a particularly packed schedule of cricket that began in August, where he played in the white-ball series against Zimbabwe, then New Zealand, England and the West Indies, before featuring in every game of Australia's underwhelming T20 World Cup campaign. He also played in each Test match of the home series against the West Indies and South Africa, and then managed six BBL games on his return to the tournament.
"It's been challenging," Warner told reporters of his hectic summer of cricket. "I'm quite tired, exhausted."
India's notoriously tricky wickets lie in wait for Warner and the Aussie Test side, with the first Test in a four-match series set to get underway in Nagpur on February 9. Warner's place at the top of Australia's order has been the topic of intense scrutiny after a rollercoaster summer that featured several modest scores with the bat to go along with a double century.
The 36-year-old has five days to rest up before jetting off to India, but one of his evenings will be taken up by Cricket Australia's night of nights, to be attended by the Test squad ahead of their staggered flights out. T20I teammate Marcus Stoinis and BBL star Chris Lynn are missing the awards night to play franchise cricket overseas and Warner admitted that the timing of the Allan Border Medal is not ideal.
"There are a few guys who have gone to the UAE League, which aren't going to the Cricket Australia awards," Warner said. "From my perspective, that would've been nice to have had another night at home. But it is what it is."
David Warner's BBL season-best not enough for Thunder
Warner's best performance of the BBL summer came on Friday night, when a rapid-fire 36 runs from 20 balls had the Thunder on track before rain washed the game out. While his results have not lived up to his billing, the opener said his intention had never been to use the BBL cameo to limber up for the longer format in India.
"You're not really trying to negate the spinning ball, it's a white ball as well," Warner said of the BBL. "For me, it was about coming back and trying to inject some energy into the Thunder team and trying to put my best foot forward for the team. It hasn't come off this year."
Warner is contracted for one more summer with the Thunder and will come into the tournament on the back of an ODI World Cup in India, and potentially after a similarly busy home Test summer if he is still playing and selected.
"Hopefully next year I can come out and be a little bit fresher than what I am at the moment," he said. "It's going to be a long lead-in to our summer. From a personal point of view, I'm going to have to try and work out how to stay nice and fresh."
Warner's Test opening partner Khawaja admitted after Friday night's BBL finals win that he was undecided about whether to play in Sunday night's final against the Renegades or spend quality time at home with his wife and kids. Many of the Aussie Test squad will be away from their loved ones for almost seven weeks when they travel to India.
"I haven't thought that far ahead if I'm being honest," Khawaja told reporters about Sunday's next BBL finals match. "We're obviously going away for six-and-a-half weeks, my family is coming over for the AB Medal that's happening (in Sydney) on the 30th. There's a lot happening right now.
"I wanted to just win this game and then I'll cross that bridge and figure out what I want to do. I'll have to talk to coach about it first and see what he can do."
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