Warner – ‘I’m not a criminal. You should get the right of an appeal’

David Warner has expressed his frustration at how long it has taken Cricket Australia to allow him to apply to have his lifetime leadership ban reviewed, describing the process as traumatic and disappointing.

On Monday CA announced that it amended its code of conduct which previously stated that players do not have the right to have a sanction reviewed once it has been accepted. Warner had been unable to hold a captaincy position in Australian cricket after being handed a lifetime ban as a result of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, with the sanction falling under the previous code of conduct.

Speaking at a promotion event for Kayo Sports on Monday, that was not organised by CA, Warner vented his frustration.

“I’m not a criminal,” Warner said. “You should get a right of an appeal at some stage. I understand that they put a ban in place but banning someone for life, I think it’s a bit harsh.

“Where it’s been disappointing, it’s taken this long to get to where it has. It was brought up in I think February this year. So it’s been drawn out. It’s traumatic for me and my family and everyone else that was involved in it. We haven’t needed to go back into that detail. We don’t need to relive what happened.”

Warner was particularly annoyed about how he was being painted in this process as it has all unfolded during a time when Australia is experiencing a leadership change in limited-overs cricket. Aaron Finch retired from the ODI team in September. Pat Cummins was appointed as the ODI captain in October with a wider leadership group sitting underneath him, all while Warner was still ineligible to captain his country in any format.

“It’s frustrating because we could have done this about nine months ago when it was first brought up,” Warner said. “It’s unfortunate that obviously Finchy retired and then they sort of fast-tracked it in their own way. But it’s a tad disappointing that when you make a decision in 2018, it’s in four days, and then this takes nine months.

“So that’s the hardest thing. It actually makes me look like I’m campaigning, which I’m totally not. So from my perspective, that’s where it’s been disappointing.

“But it’s good to get in a position where we are now today. And it gives me an opportunity to ring up the integrity unit to therefore have a word to them and put forward my case of I guess, the 100 hours [of community service] that I did in 2018 for what happened. Basically, all this good behavior stuff that I’ve done, I think I have to put forward so I’m happy to do that.”

The CA board requested a code of conduct review at the October board meeting that was conducted by CA’s current head of integrity Jacqui Partridge. Warner’s ban in 2018 was handed down under a different head of integrity, Iain Roy, who did the investigation into the sandpaper incident in Cape Town. There was also a different CA CEO in James Sutherland, a different head of high performance in Pat Howard, and only one current CA director, John Harnden, remains from the 2018 board that handed down Warner’s lifetime leadership ban in the days after Cape Town.

Under the new code of conduct, Warner has to formally apply to have his ban modified, which CA outlined in a statement.

“Any applications will be considered by a three-person Review Panel, comprising independent Code of Conduct Commissioners, which must be satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist to justify modifying a sanction,” the statement said.

“These circumstances and considerations will include whether the subject of the sanction has demonstrated genuine remorse; the subject’s conduct and behaviour since the imposition of the sanction; whether rehabilitation programs have been completed undertaken (if applicable) and the length of time that has passed since the sanction was imposed and whether sufficient time has passed to allow for reform or rehabilitation.

“Where it’s been disappointing, it’s taken this long to get to where it has. It was brought up in I think February this year. So it’s been drawn out. It’s traumatic for me and my family and everyone else that was involved in it. We haven’t needed to go back into that detail. We don’t need to relive what happened”

David Warner

“The code of conduct states this process: ‘Acknowledges that Players and Player Support Personnel are capable of genuine reform or rehabilitation and is intended to provide the Player or Player Support Personnel with an opportunity to resume their previously held positions or responsibilities in specific circumstances.’

“The hearing of an application is not an appeal, or a review of the original sanction imposed.”

Warner, 36, has been keen on returning to a leadership role having captained in the IPL since his CA leadership ban and the current Australian selection panel has been eager to get Warner’s situation resolved as they look to broaden their leadership options, particularly in limited overs cricket.

Warner has hinted that he is keen to play international cricket through until the 2024 T20 World Cup, with Australia likely to need a new T20I captain for that tournament.

He is unlikely to be needed to captain in the ODI format ahead of the World Cup, despite his frustration at not being eligible at the time of Cummins’ appointment. Cummins has support in Josh Hazlewood, Steven Smith and Alex Carey who have all now captained at least once in the ODI format and will all likely be locks in the ODI squad for the World Cup in India next year.

But with the exception of Hazlewood, none of the other three are guaranteed to be playing in the 2024 T20 World Cup. Warner could come into the frame as the T20I leader if his ban is overturned as Australia do not play T20I cricket until August of next year.

Warner does not know when he will get the chance to formally apply to a three-person Review Panel given his heavy playing schedule over the next few months, with Australia set to play five Test matches between November 30 and January 8.

Warner is then set to play in the BBL for Sydney Thunder under coach Trevor Bayliss. The pair worked together as captain-coach at Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. Warner stated he would be keen to captain Thunder if he was wanted and if the lifetime ban had been modified in time.

“If they would like me to do it, I’m happy to put my hand up,” Warner said. “I’ve worked with TB [Bayliss] before. I know a fair few of the players and they know my understanding of the game and what I can bring to the table. But if that decision was up to them, and they’d asked me to do it, then I’d like to push that forward as fast as we can.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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