Usman Khawaja on David Warner’s reputation – ‘He was told to play certain way’

4 Min Read

Much of David Warner‘s aggressive behaviour at times before his one-year ban from international cricket for ball tampering came because he was following team instructions, according to his close friend and long-time team-mate Usman Khawaja.

“For a long period of time, he was in people’s faces and doing stuff; but that wasn’t always Davey,” Khawaja said. “He was getting told to play a certain way by the coaching staff and people around at certain points. He’s such a team player. If you ask him to do something, he’ll do it. That’s the frustrating part when people come at him because I know he’ll do anything he needs to for the team to win a game.

“Back in the day, if the team asked – or coaches or senior players [asked] – to get into the contest or sledge the other teams, he’d do it. He doesn’t have to do it, but he wants to help the team, and that’s how he felt he had to help the team. You’ve seen a very different David Warner since he’s come back in 2019. He’s done it his own way.”

Right up to his Test retirement this week in Sydney, Warner has divided opinion after a career which included numerous run-ins with authority, most significantly the ball-tampering scandal in 2018.

However, prior to his final match at the SCG, captain Pat Cummins had praised his “exemplary” role in the team since his return in 2019, and Khawaja believes the send-off he is getting is nothing less than he deserves.

Khawaja and Warner have so far had the chance to walk out together twice during this Test, firstly late on the opening evening when only one over was bowled, and then again on the second morning. One both occasions, Khawaja has allowed Warner to lead the way and admitted there were plenty of emotions swirling as their time in the team neared an end. Warner, too, had become emotional when speaking about Khawaja ahead of the Test.

“We are pretty tight – probably even tighter after he missed a year of cricket because he went through a really tough time, and I always made sure he was going all right,” Khawaja said. “I always had his back. It’s really good to watch that people are getting around him because I think he deserves it; I really do. I think about the journey we’ve been on, and it is quite emotional.”

When, on the second morning of the Sydney Test, Warner was dropped on 20 by Saim Ayub at slip, it appeared that his perfect script could be written; but having worked his way to 34, he edged a sharply-turning delivery from Agha Salman. His frustration was clear as he made his way back to the pavilion, but there remains a reasonable chance he will get a final innings.

“He’s looked good [in] every single way,” Khawaja said. “Nice to see him leave on a high. He just got a ripper of a ball today that you have to cop sometimes. It’s his Test, and [it’s] really good to be a part of it.”

Share This Article
Leave a comment