Social media erupts as Warner farewell circus finally ends

Social media erupts as Warner farewell circus finally ends

David Warner was engulfed in adulation this week as his impressive Test cricket career came to an end at the SCG.

Standing ovations and career highlights packages were the order of the week as the 37-year-old retired from the longest form of the game following a 3-0 series win over Pakistan.

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But it is an undeniable truth that the words “David” and “Warner” used together in the same sentence can still evoke mixed feelings, at best, among some Australian sport followers.

It has been an unusual situation for a member of Australia’s cricket team to be so polarising.

It’s a team that produced cult and beloved figures, Warnie, Boonie, Richie Benaud, Marsh and Lillee, Big Merv, “Tugger” Waugh and Captain Grumpy among them.

Even current captain Pat Cummins, consistently branded with the stupid “woke” label, has won over many of his detractors due to his undeniable triumphs on the pitch.

Warner, however, will never be universally loved.

“Sandpapergate”, of course, is the genesis of so much of the vitriol towards him, but that doesn’t explain all of it, as Steve Smith can attest.

Smith has managed to quieten most of the hate surrounding his return to the team, largely by staying quiet himself, something Warner has not realised.

Smith’s tear-filled press conference after that infamous incident was considered believable, while Warner’s was not.

The combative attitude on and off the pitch — punching Joe Root, trying to pick fights in South African dressing rooms, relentless sledging — are also part of the Warner persona, along with the oft-referenced housing commission upbringing.

The decision to announce his intended Test retirement in June last year, at a time when his form and place in the side was highly questionable, also rubbed people the wrong way.

It was viewed by many as something of a ploy to ensure he kept his place for the looming Ashes series, when he would fail in England once again with an average of 28.5, and ensure a farewell on home soil, forcing selectors’ hands.

While Steve Waugh, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer were given feted farewells from Test cricket, countless luminaries were not awarded that honour.

Ian Healy is perhaps the player most often referenced in this regard, when selectors coldly agreed to and then denied his desire for a farewell Test in Brisbane back in 1999.

Many questioned whether Warner was deserving.

Regardless, receive it he did, with Pakistan giving him a gift-laden farewell presentation while the broadcast coverage was virtually a blanket salute to the combative opener.

“Yeah I heard it’s Davey’s last Test match, apparently,” Cummins said facetiously when asked about Warner’s farewell after the SCG victory.

All of that came after Warner, on January 1, two days out from the third Test and a full month before Australia had a one-day match to worry about, also held a press conference to confirm his retirement from that format.

We’re not sure who was the driving force behind that decision, but regardless, was it necessary?

Even the bizarre story over Warner’s missing baggy green caps was viewed by some as yet another ploy, with the batter and Cummins among those adding to the innuendo with baffling and mysterious comments.

Which brings us to the negative reaction that sparked this article and demonstrates Warner has not, and never will, win over everybody.

We begin with another of Test cricket’s combative, divisive figures, Damien Martyn, who used a simple hashtag in a tweet to showcase his feelings.

“Thank god it’s all over,” he wrote to his 219,000 followers.

Tell us what you really think, Damo.

It drew a mixed response, as always with Warner, with supporters on both sides.

“Strange to see Australians bowing down to a bloke who averages under 45, and 31 away from home,” wrote one. “It’s not up to the usual Aussie standards. Good player & athlete no doubt. But he is no Langer, Hayden, Clarke, Ponting, Waugh etc.”

“Warner has been a good player for Aus but the way this has been milked you’d think he was the greatest player to ever carry the willow,” wrote another.

“So you don’t like the cheat either?” was an inevitable comment from a third.

Of course, there were many who disagreed with Martyn’s take.

“Really? Didn’t he contribute over 8k runs!” stated one.

“What you say of others says more about you than them, Damien. Coming across a little bitter,” wrote another.

“A fitting end to a wonderful career. Well played Dave Warner,” added a third.

The man himself spoke on the morning of Day 4 of the SCG Test about mistakes from earlier in his career and his efforts at mellowing both himself and his detractors.

Warner revealed that he believes, or at least tells himself, he has changed and has in fact won over the critics.

“I think a lot of people don’t get to see or meet or know the person. From when I first started, I was that chirpy little fella that was out there,” Warner told Fox Cricket.

“My role in the team was to go out there and get under the batter’s skin and the opposition’s skin and yeah, it did boost me a little bit because they came at me when I batted.

“I think your first impression, you don’t get a second chance at that and you know, I’ve tried to rebuild that trust and faith.”

While it has worked for some, it will never work for all.

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