Warner ponders legacy as he eyes Aussie exit on a high

David Warner opens up about the ongoing toll of the ball-tampering scandal as he bids to end his international career by helping Australia hold all three major men's ICC trophies

Five games away from what he hopes will be a dream finish to his international career, David Warner says he will not miss the abuse he cops for a sandpaper scandal he admits remains a black mark against his name six years on.

One of just four Australians (along with Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Travis Head) to have played in last year's World Test Championship and ODI World Cup triumphs, Warner will make history if he can help complete the set by adding the T20 World Cup trophy in the coming weeks.

But the 37-year-old, speaking to reporters in Antigua during what he has confirmed will be his final international tournament, has opened up on the toll the 2018 Cape Town controversy still has on him.

While Warner insists he will leave international cricket for life as a T20 freelancer and Fox Cricket commentator on good terms, he indicated he is happy to leave behind the constant reminders of the ill-fated South Africa tour.

"Coming back since 2018 I've probably ... been the only one that's ever copped a lot of flak. Whether it's people who don't like the Australian cricket team or don't like me, I've always been that person who has copped it," said Warner.

"It's fine if they want to do that, but I always feel like I've taken a lot of pressure off a lot of guys as well and I think understandably I've been that person to be able to absorb that.

"But one can only absorb (so much). For me, it's great to go out knowing I'm not going to cop it anymore."

Warner was banned from playing for 12 months by Cricket Australia for his part in the ball-tampering fiasco that went as far as drawing condemnation from then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Although he accepts his name will inevitably be linked to the incident that also saw Steve Smith (12-month suspension) and Cameron Bancroft (nine months) serve hefty punishments, the opener was hopeful his legacy as a game-changing cricketer stands the test of time.

"I think it's going to be inevitable that when people talk about me in 20 or 30 years' time, there will always be that sandpaper scandal," said Warner, whose tally of 18,933 career runs across all formats is second only to Ricky Ponting's mark of 27,368 among Australians.

"But for me, if they're real cricket tragics and they love cricket, (as well as) my closest supporters, they will always see me as that cricketer – someone who tried to change the game.

"Someone who tried to follow in the footsteps of the openers before me and try and score runs at a great tempo and change Test cricket in a way."

Standing ovation for Warner as he departs the Test arena

Warner said his wife Candice and three daughters were integral to helping him return to international cricket after his ban, while he has also repeatedly praised the current support staff group headed by coach Andrew McDonald and selection chief George Bailey.

But while he stressed that he has moved on, Warner contrasted his position with American football's Tom Brady after the star quarterback was caught up in a scandal.

In that 2015 National Football League controversy, Brady was accused of ordering the deflation of balls in order to make them easier to grip and throw and, following an investigation and court appeal, was suspended for four matches the following season while his team – New England Patriots – were fined US$1 million and forfeited two selections at the 2016 player draft.

"You look at the Tom Brady thing with 'Deflategate', it sort of blew over," said Warner.

"But because this is our national sport and there's a lot going on at the time with the Australian Prime Minister and his cabinet deflected upon cricket.

"There was a great deflection and there was a lot going on in the politics world as well. So the focus shifted towards the Australian cricket team. It was difficult. That was difficult.

"But to move on from that, it's been great. Just knuckled down and do as well as I can and I've copped my fair share of all that."

Warner sees symmetry in his international swansong coming in the same format in which he started 15 years ago when he took down a Dale Steyn-led South Africa at the MCG in a T20 International.

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But bowing out as a world champion in all three formats would encapsulate the impact he has had across the board, having finished his long-form career in January as Australia's most prolific Test opener.

While England were briefly concurrent world champions in both white-ball formats after their 2019 (ODI) and 2022 (T20) titles, no team has ever held all three major ICC men's trophies at once since the introduction of the WTC in 2021.

"I think it would be special, most definitely," Warner said ahead of a gruelling run of matches that will see Australia play five games in 10 days if they make the T20 World Cup final in Barbados on June 29.

"As a team you strive for as much success as you can and to do that would be a great accomplishment. It's not just for me, it's about the systems we've had in place, the way the coaches and selectors have structured the whole thing.

"It's been a process of 18-24 months and they've done a fantastic job to one, keep the guys on the park, but two, keep that core group together and I think it will be a fantastic fit for all of us."

2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Australia's squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Australia's Group B fixtures

June 6: Beat Oman by 39 runs

June 9: Beat England by 36 runs

June 12: Beat Namibia by nine wickets

June 16: Beat Scotland by five wickets

Australia's Super Eight fixtures

21 June: v Bangladesh, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua, 10.30am AEST

23 June: v Afghanistan, Arnos Vale Ground, St Vincent, 10.30am AEST

25 June: v India, Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, St Lucia, 12.30am AEST

Semi-finals to follow if Australia qualify

For the full list of fixtures click here. All matches live and exclusive on Prime Video. Sign up here for a 30-day free trial