Who should replace David Warner to keep Australia sufficiently dislikeable?

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The true greats are pretty much irreplaceable. It’s safe to say Australia aren’t going to find a pantomime villain like David Warner again any time soon. This puts them in a very difficult situation given that quite a lot of their current players are really quite agreeable people. How can the Australia Test team possibly retain its hard-earned identity as just the absolute worst?

It’s Pat Cummins who’s most at fault here, we reckon. The man has perspective and reasonable-good-eggness oozing from every pore. And the rest of them ain’t much better.

Mitchell Starc seems a decent sort. Travis Head ploughs his own furrow. It was hard not to feel warmth for big, loveable puppy Cameron Green even before he revealed that he has chronic kidney disease.

Usman Khawaja? Man, we’d go so far as to say we actively like Usman Khawaja.

Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are trying to do their bit, but only in an oblivious, self-involved, monomaniacal sort of way. We’re not convinced Smith properly understands anything that doesn’t involve a cricket bat, let alone his somewhat contrived pantomime villainy.

That pretty much leaves us with Nathan Lyon, but his best work was done in partnership with Warner, so where does that leave us?

The worst thing is there’s every chance the opener will be replaced by someone like Matt Renshaw, which is honestly like replacing Emperor Palpatine with Chief Chirpa.

We’re in seriously grave danger of not properly hating Australia here.

David Warner, small of stature yet a veritable colossus in the field of knobheadery

Say what you like about David Warner. He may or may not actually be a prick, but he can certainly pass as one.

That’s valuable, because sport isn’t all about winning… it’s also about who you beat.

Let’s start with the obvious: the ball-scuffery, which is a bit of a weird one because we do actually have positive things to say about him here.

We probably all agree that premeditated cheating ain’t a good look for a sportsperson, but Warner’s response to being caught and punished was hard to fault, even if there was a certain amount of pragmatic self-preservation underpinning his behaviour.

Warner didn’t rewrite his role in the incident. He didn’t do a self-important Vodafone advert about it. He also didn’t pen a 20,000-word open letter to himself. He didn’t do anything really. He just sort of kept his head down while conspicuously declining the opportunity to implicate any of the fast bowlers who would have needed to exploit the ball’s condition for there to have been any point sandpapering it in the first place.

More annoying to us was some of the other on-field stuff with the run out of AB de Villiers earlier that series pretty much the definitive example. This was where Warner truly shone: swearing at people and going absolutely off his nut about seemingly innocuous stuff.

That said, the truth is Warner was never quite the all-out villain many outside Australia saw him as. We felt he was a rational enough bloke blighted by minimal control of his inner chimp. We don’t give him a pass for that by any means, but it tempered our view of some of his behaviour. If anything, we’d criticise how he was perceived and managed. Coaches, team-mates and pundits would routinely draw some illogical link between his verbal aggression and his attacking batting, as if you can never have one without the other.

But he did enough, didn’t he? We didn’t truly hate him, but we could pare away nuance and convince ourself we did when we needed to. He was enough of a bell-end that we felt extra happy when Stuart Broad wore him down to a nub in 2019.

The question now is whether there is anyone who can step in and replace that?


No, there isn’t. Of course there isn’t. Warner was an Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham kind of villain. Funny, ridiculous and cartoonish, but crucially also relentlessly committed to his role.

There is no good option. With his departure, Australia will tragically and unavoidably become more likeable.

Personally, we’d give Bancroft the gig, purely on the basis of that stupid letter.


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  1. He’ll always be a knobhead.

    …and what seems equally as bad is the Aussie commentary team and associated production team raising him to God level in the current test series, despite him being a complete knobhead, or maybe because he is a complete knobhead. Many Aussies seem to idolise knobheads.

    Actually, and going off at a tangent as is the requirement, the whole Aussie commentary team have been talking a heap load of bollocks, interminably whinging about Shaheen Afridi taking the match off (presumably he wanted to avoid all the bollocks surrounding Warner), inanely wittering on about horses, wine clubs, and squirrels (and not in a way you’d like them to), and did I hear one of them say that Cummins is as good a cricketer as Bradman? Knobheads (although without the overt offensiveness of Warner)!

    1. That was Michael Vaughan who claimed that Cummins might someday be Australia’s second-best behind Bradman. Every nation has its knobheads.

  2. Honestly, I reckon David Warner should thank the heavens that the controversy he will be eternally associated with is “sandpaper on a cricket ball” and not “unprovoked physical assault on junior member of opposition team”. It’s weird how in the decade since, it has been lowered down to an “altercation”, to the extent that I had to actually check the reporting at the time to confirm I wasn’t the one misremembering things.

    If his career had ended in Summer 2013, he would have had no good cause to complain.

  3. Warner weirdly became more likeable for me after the Sandpaper thing. He was such a colossal twat at the time of that and he deserved the year off, but it did seem that it actually made him reflect on the fact that perhaps he was being a colossal twat and maybe he shouldn’t be. Since his return he has seemed much more relaxed, able to take a joke, and generally not be the arsehole that he was pre-sandpaper.

    1. Yes, I agree with Micko here. You could still dislike him post sandpaper, but you would have to dig deep.

  4. Do great Australians become greats because they are dislikeable, or do they become dislikeable through the truly unforgivable combination of being very good at cricket and incurably Australian?

    Obviously Warner went above and beyond, in so many ways, but some are born ***s, some achieve ****yness and some have ****yness thrust upon them (usually in an Ashes series).

  5. I acnnot really put my finger on why, but I have always disliked Hazlewood and Lyon more than Warner. Warner is so committed to being an absolute bellend that I think I eventually went full circle on him and actually quite like him now in a panto villain way.

    In fact, there is a part of me that is actively annoyed that Pat Cummins (and a couple of others) are so un-dislikeable. Get in your Aussie cricketer lane and stay there for God sakes. I think my order goes:

    Most annoying – Sneaky pricks (Hazlewood, Lyon)
    2 – unaware bellends (Smith, Marnus)
    3 – Why wont you be annoying like you should be Test players (Cummins, Khawaja)
    4 – Open, balls out aggravators (Warner, any number of 80s and 90s players)
    Least annoying – Why wont you be annoying like you should be ODI players (Maxwell, Stoinis, Zampa)

  6. Personally I always preferred it spelt nobhead. Not sure how that relates to David Warner, although perhaps he’s both?

    (The more I think about it, the more I think he probably is both. Nobby Knobhead)

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