The last time David Warner played in the Big Bash, the late great Shane Keith Warne was still spinning a web in the competition and Chris Gayle was hitting sixes for fun. That’s how long it’s been.
However reports from ESPNCricinfo have now revealed that Warner has signed a lucrative deal with Cricket Australia and BBL organisers to return to represent his former franchise the Sydney Thunder this Big Bash season.
Talks with Cricket Australia to gain permission to play in the ILT20 league in the UAE quickly changed course with the cancellation of the South Africa ODI series, meaning that multi-format players like Warner now had a window to play more domestic T20 cricket.
According to ESPNCricinfo, David Warner will play five regular-season matches for the Sydney Thunder after the final Test against South Africa in early January, whilst also making himself eligible for the finals if his team makes it that far.
When asked about why he had decided to decline the offer of playing in the ILT20 league to focus on the Big Bash, Warner said he was aware of the larger picture at hand of how important it was to rejuvenate the tournament which has been lacking in popularity in recent years.
“I care deeply about the game, and I am conscious that the conditions that I enjoy as a professional cricketer have largely come from other senior players who have come before me," he told ESPN.
"That is how the game is structured and I understand that my contribution to the future of the BBL will hopefully benefit the next generation of players long after I am retired.”
Warner’s decision to play in the Big Bash was also influenced by his three daughters – Ivy Mae, Indi Rae and Isla Rose – who all claimed that they had missed seeing their father carve up the tournament with his blitzkrieg batting.
“My ‘girls’ have told me that they’d love to watch me play at home in the BBL. It will be great for us to be part of the BBL as a family, and it is something that I am really looking forward to sharing with them," he said.
Warner’s re-emergence into the Big Bash means that Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland, Cameron Green and Josh Hazlewood will all remain as centrally contracted players for Cricket Australia with no deals for this season’s tournament. It leaves Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne with contracts for the Big Bash.