'Shocked' Warner's future with Sunrisers in question
Hyderabad's title-winning skipper praised for "being a trooper" but former teammate suggests he may not play for the side again
3 May 2021, 10:03 AM AEST
Sunrisers Hyderabad revealed David Warner was left shocked by his axing as one of his former Indian Premier League teammates, Dale Steyn, suggested the Australian may have played his final game for the club.
Warner averages more than 50 for the Sunrisers and captained them to their only IPL title in 2016 but was sensationally dumped as skipper for their clash with Rajasthan Royals on Sunday, having managed just one win from their first six games.
In his absence, Mohammad Nabi (17 off five balls) came into the Hyderabad XI down the order while Manish Pandey (31 off 20) was promoted to open with Jonny Bairstow, as Kane Williamson took over as captain.
It made little difference as Jos Buttler's maiden T20 ton in Delhi consigned the Sunrisers to a 55-run defeat and ensured they remained bottom of the IPL standings.
With only four overseas players permitted in a team's XI, Hyderabad's director of cricket Tom Moody said it was "purely a decision based on combination".
"We've come to a conclusion that the two overseas batters (Bairstow and Williamson), allrounder (Nabi) and Rashid Khan is the best combination. We've looked at it closely," the former Australia allrounder told Star Sports ahead of the Sunrisers' latest defeat.
"He was obviously shocked and disappointed. And we'd be disappointed if he wasn't feeling that way. As it goes with elite sportsmen, they want to be playing and proving themselves and doing the best they can for the team.
"But he has come to terms with the logic behind what we are trying to achieve from a team's perspective and has been terrific since. He has rallied around the team and, more importantly, the team has rallied around him."
Warner, whose strike-rate of 110.28 is well down on his regular pace during this IPL season despite hitting two half-centuries, had taken responsibility for Hyderabad's defeat to Chennai Super Kings last week and conceded he batted too slowly.
Coach Trevor Bayliss praised the 34-year-old for "being a trooper" and noted he had helped pick up water bottles in Sunrisers' team dugout after the match against Rajasthan.
But ex-South Africa speedster Steyn, who played 37 IPL games for Sunrisers Hyderabad in three seasons between 2013-15, suggested the franchise may not have taken kindly to Warner labelling Pandey's omission for a match against Delhi Capitals last month a "harsh call".
"I don't know whether David may have questioned some of the decisions they had made," Steyn told ESPN. "Maybe when Manish Pandey was left out, I heard him say something along the lines of 'It wasn't his decision' … Sometimes management don't appreciate that."
"The captain of the team also needs to take ownership of this squad and know who is going out onto the field, and sometimes that gets taken out of their hands. I don't know.
"It just seems like there's definitely something happening behind closed doors that the public are not aware of.
"It is strange that he's not still part of the playing XI – it would be understandable if they want to change ownership in terms of the captaincy for next season (but) he's still a phenomenal batter.
"… I think this will be the last time we see David Warner in an orange army (Sunrisers) shirt."
Former New Zealand spinner Dan Vettori, who has coached Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL and the Brisbane Heat in the KFC BBL, also suggested there may be more to the Warner decision.
"You could argue David Warner is the best overseas batsman ever to play in the IPL," Vettori told ESPN. "For him to fall from that level to not being in the playing XI – there's obviously some things going on."
Given the sheer abundance of international talent available in the IPL, Warner is far from the first big-name international star to be overlooked by an IPL team.
At the Sunrisers this season alone, Jason Roy, Jason Holder and Mujeeb ur Rahman – plus Warner – all sat out Sunday's game against the Royals. All four would be walk-up starts for most international T20 teams.
Yet Warner's impeccable IPL record, particularly for the Sunrisers, has made his omission puzzling to many. The left-hander has more runs (5,447, at a strike-rate of 140.13, including four centuries) than any other overseas batter in the history of the tournament.
While he remains banned from ever holding a leadership position in Australian cricket due to his role in the 2018 Cape Town scandal, Warner's captaincy has earnt high praise from Sunrisers teammates including star spinner Rashid Khan.
"We had to make a hard call and someone had to miss out," said Moody.
Asked if Warner might come back into the XI at some stage, Williamson said: "He's a world class player. The cards are on the table. I'm sure there's a number of conversations that will be had."