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David Warner, the Twinkle-Toed Bazooka, Fires Again With His Bat and How

David Warner was named the Player of the Tournament of the 2021 T20 World Cup.

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Cricket
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Australian swashbuckling opener David Warner and his wife Candice regularly communicate and support each other on social media. And on Sunday night, after the twinkle-toed bazooka guided Australia to their maiden men's T20 World Cup title, his wife, with tongue clearly in her cheek, wrote on Twitter this in two separate tweets: “Out of form, too old and slow!” “Out of form!!”

Candice was, obviously, taking a dig at those who had perceived Warner, 35, to be woefully short of runs coming into the tournament. In truth, he actually was, with a host of other issues also surrounding him, on and off the field lately. However, he, too, like many others, believed that he was just an innings away from regaining sparkling form. And, lo and behold, what a way to get his mojo back – at the global stage, the T20 World Cup.

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David Warner was named the Player of the Tournament of the 2021 T20 World Cup.

David Warner scored a half century in the 2021 T20 World Cup final.

(Photo: PTI)

Warner, out of form in the not too distant past, was adjudged the Man of the 2021 T20 World Cup for scoring 289 runs at 48.17 at a whirlwind strike rate of 146.70 in seven matches of the tournament. He slammed 32 boundaries and 10 sixes, leveraging his powerful shoulders and arms while scoring consistently – 14, 65, 1, 18, 89 not out, 49, and 53.

His run aggregate was just 15 short of the tournament’s highest scorer, Pakistani captain Babar Azam, whose team Australia had defeated in the semi-finals.

Interestingly, during the post-match press conference, Australia captain Aaron Finch said he always had faith in Warner and revealed that he had even predicted that the diminutive opener would be the Man of the Tournament.

“I can't believe people wrote him off a couple of weeks ago saying he was done. It was like poking the bear," Finch said before letting out a secret: “Without a word of a lie, I promise you, I called [team coach] Justin Langer a few months ago and said, ‘Don't worry about Davey, he'll be Man of the Tournament’.”

Warner himself seems to have little doubt about his ability as a batter: “I actually think people talking about my form is quite funny. I laugh at the matter. I've played hardly any cricket. Had two games in the IPL and then warm-up games are warm-up games for a reason. The other day I got my benchmark as where I should be at with my feet,” he said.

Form alone, however, doesn’t seem to be the issue with Warner. The point of interest is how he, battling paucity of runs going into the T20 World Cup and apparently a lack of self-confidence, overcame a series of uneventful developments that must have affected him big time. That included the stigma of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal and being banned for one year by the Australia cricket board.

Following the scandal, he was forced to miss a season of IPL, and simultaneously his form deserted him. And this year, SunRisers unceremoniously dethroned their 2016 IPL title-winning captain from the post as well as the playing XI, ironically after a “slow” 55-ball 57 against Chennai Super Kings in Delhi in April. That SunRisers losing that game by seven wickets was the proverbial last straw.

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That decision by the SunRisers to drop Warner would have shattered him. However, he seems to have a strong mind that overcomes the odds when he looks down and out to the world. Until the start of the T20 World Cup, he seemed woefully out of form. He, however, chose an unconventional way to regain self-belief.

“Always felt really well. Didn't get much time in the middle in the two practice matches obviously. But for me it was about going back to basics. Going to hard, synthetic wickets and try to hit some balls,” Warner said after the final on Sunday.

Warner roared back with runs when it mattered the most, and sealed his glorious run in the World Cup with a delicious icing on the cake – 53 off a mere 38 balls in the final against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand. His breezy knock comprised four boundaries and three sixes, to lay a solid foundation to overhaul the opponent’s 172 for four, with seven balls to spare.

When the winning runs were scored in the final on Sunday, an elated Smith, sitting next to Warner – the two having gone through the horrors if the ball tampering saga together – gleefully grabbed him tightly from behind. It was a genuine hug and showed how much Smith supported Warner. The former Australian captain later said: “Warner's last two weeks have been amazing. A lot of people were writing him off. He came in with exceptional intent and took the game away at the start.”

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It is also not all about the number of runs that left-hander Warner scored in the World Cup; it is about how he made those consistent contributions to the team’s cause, after enduring mental agony. After all, just about three years ago, he was involved, along with youngster Cameron Bancroft, in the ‘Sandpapergate’ scandal.

Although both Warner and Smith returned to international cricket, only Warner needed a stronger mind than his former captain to overcome the heavy odds stacked against him as he was battling for runs, unlike Smith. Looking back with the advantage of hindsight, their suspension from the sport gave Warner time to reflect, ponder, and make amends. It was a kind of blessing in disguise for a player like him as he got time to spend with his family, with his wife throwing strong support in those tough times. That would have done him a world of good. Little wonder then that Candice was elated at her husband getting the Player of the T20 World Cup award on Sunday. It’s just that she chose a different set of words – “Out of form, too old and slow!” – to describe her feeling.

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