David Warner has offered an apology to Carlton and United Breweries for appearing to grimace when taking a sip of sponsor’s product to toast his win at last night’s Allan Border Medal presentation.
Warner imposed an alcohol ban upon himself prior to Australia’s Test tour to the West Indies last year in order to help him manage his body through his relentless touring schedule that has seen them playing virtually non-stop since last June.
The 29-year-old had earlier indicated he would have lifted the ban if Australia had triumphed in their Ashes campaign in the UK last year, but when that didn’t happen he continued to eschew alcohol.
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That was until last night when the Allan Border Medal was draped around his neck for the first time, and the room at Crown Melbourne rose to toast Australia’s Player of the Year as Warner was handed a bottle of Crown Golden Ale, the sponsor’s tipple of the evening.
Which Warner sipped briefly after a momentary hesitation.
"I think I have to apologise to Crown Lager," he said today after a late night celebrating his win with nothing more potent than soft drinks and glasses of water.
"They caught me sort of scrinching my eyes.
"But I’m still off the booze.
"It’s something that I wanted to accomplish myself to see if I can do it and it’s a lot easier now than it was in the first month."
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Warner hastens to point out that he has not embraced a life of abstinence even though the low point of his international career came in the wake of his late-night altercation with England batsman Joe Root at a bar in Birmingham during Australia’s 2013 Ashes tour of the UK.
Rather, his decision to turn his back on alcohol – which he initially undertook as a show of support for his wife Candice when she was pregnant with the couple’s first child in 2014 – is designed to help him avoid injury and hasten recovery in the face of a gruelling travel and playing schedule.
Although he concedes it did not prevent him from missing several months of cricket after he fractured his left thumb when struck while batting in an ODI against England at Lord’s last year.
"I gave myself an opportunity to try and get through this year without any soft tissue injuries, and obviously breaking a thumb is not ideal," Warner said today
"In the past, you can do a lot of stupid things when you’re out there and you’re on the drink.
"I wouldn’t say I got out of hand a lot, but it’s the discipline side of things to tell myself and show myself that I was capable of doing that.
"I’m not saying it’s a life-imposed ban.
"It’s just something that I was trying to get through the tours (we’ve had) and the tours that are coming up you don’t want to have a disadvantage in any way.
"I’m trying to put my best foot forward and get my body right for my team."
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Despite not partaking of more than a sip of celebratory grog last night, Warner admits he awoke this morning still trying to come to terms with what had taken place the previous evening.
When he was named Australia’s Test Player of the Year and – as a result of his performances in the Test and ODI arena over the past 12 months – added his name to the list of legends who have been honoured with the Allan Border Medal.
"I was totally surprised and shocked, I thought Steve Smith would have taken it out - he’s had a great 12 months," Warner said this morning before heading home to Sydney for a few days with his family prior to the Australians’ upcoming Qantas Tour to New Zealand.
"I’m humbled and honoured to receive the award and I think it will sink in during the next week or so when I have some time to reflect on it."