Ahead of his final Test match at his home arena of Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Australian opener David Warner reflected on the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town that led to a one-year ban from cricket and a ban from assuming leadership roles in Australia, saying that the issue could have been handled differently but he has moved on from it. Warner will bid farewell to the longest format of the game with the third Test against Pakistan at his home arena of Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

On being asked if he holds any bitterness over his suspension and leadership ban handled by Cricket Australia, Warner said that he has moved on from the issue though it could have been handled differently. Since then, he has enjoyed his leadership roles in T20 leagues worldwide, but for him, leadership is no about a badge, but setting an example both on the field and away from it.

“I knew a question like this was going to come up. When I look back at that, it can be handled differently. But I think Nick (Hockley, CA’s chief executive) did his ultimate best to put that forward to the board and the decision was made, and I am happy with that. I have moved forward from that. I have got opportunities to lead in the IPL, to lead in the ILT20. I have enjoyed my leadership roles,” said Warner as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

“But for me, in recent years, I have learned that leadership (is not about) wearing a captain or vice-captain badges. It is about being true to yourself, and setting an example both on and off the field. For me, I think I’m a leader in this team no matter what. You do not need that C or VC next to your name. I know myself and my energy at times can be annoying, and I can be a pest, but I know that inside that changeroom it gets everyone up and about,” he added.

In the 2018 Ball-Tampering Scandal, also known as the ‘Sandpaper Gate’, then-Australian captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batter Cameron Bancroft received heavy sanctions from Cricket Australia for their involvement in ball-tampering during the series against South Africa. It all started when Bancroft was caught by cameras trying to tamper with the condition of the ball using sandpaper hidden in his cricket gear.

On learnings from the ball-tampering scandal, Warner said when he left South Africa, he attended a big church convention and started playing grade cricket to make his way back into the team. He also got to spend time with his children, which he loved and wanted to make every child who dreamt of ever playing have an ambition of playing for Australia.

“When I left South Africa, the first five or six people that came up to me were priests and gave me a card. Then we went on a holiday to Singapore after that and there was a big church convention. I then sat back and spoke to Candice, and said someone was clearly watching down upon us. I just grew strength from there to go back, play grade cricket, get a sense of that cricket community back – the canteen ladies, people who run the drinks out, taking on and off the covers – it was a sense of something I sort of got disconnected with. I think a lot of us do because we are in that bubble but when you go back and see the real people who are working hard, which we did as young kids, that is what I reflect most upon,” said Warner.

“If I can keep continuing to make sure that people understand where you come from and how you got to where you are, that is going to be very important. That is a lesson that I learned. Then spending time at home with the kids, was unbelievable. I actually really enjoyed that. I spent a lot of time with my wife. We are sort of disconnected in a way when we travel a lot.”

“Reflecting back on that whole period, my whole career, I have got no regrets because you are going to have a lot of hurdles you are going to have to jump. There are going to be obstacles in the way, but you have to move forward and I have done that with dignity. I have got a lot of passion for the game and it was important from my perspective that I am giving back, making sure that I gained the respect back but making sure I am putting Australian cricket first. I want every young kid who wants to play cricket to dream of playing for Australia and that was what was really important for me when I came back,” he concluded.

Australia squad third Test: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitch Starc, David Warner.

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