David Warner prepares to play in Bangladesh Premier League
As he nears the end of his 12 month ban for his role in the ball-tampering saga, star Australian opener David Warner will grace the pitches of Bangladesh as he represents the Sylhet Sixers in the Bangladesh Premier League for the first time. In fact, not only will he play for the Sixers, but he will captain them - perhaps surprising given his situation, but equally unsurprising given his experience and undoubted talent.
Warner’s ban meant he could not play Australian cricket - namely internationals and the domestic leagues - for the entirety of the 12-month period. During this period, however, he has continued to play the game, playing first in the Global T20 Canada and then in the CPL, while he has also been playing Sydney grade cricket back in Australia - that level of cricket he is allowed to play.
In a rare meeting with the media, Warner sounded upbeat about his time away from the international game, stating that he has been ‘spending time with the family’ and attempting to ‘grow as a human being’. When his band ends in April, Warner will of course be endeavouring to find his way back into the international side. Whether this is a viable option remains uncertain, particularly given a recent interview in which Cameron Bancroft confirmed that Warner was the brainchild of the tampering scandal - though this fact had already been relatively well established - but, as Warner himself said, ‘all I can do is score runs in this tournament and the IPL’. In his favour is the fact that soon after his ban is the start of the One Day World Cup, immediately followed by the Ashes series in England. Though there will likely be plenty of resistance against his return, the struggles of the Australian team in all formats combined with the two most important events on the calendar looming will certainly help his cause.
As Warner himself mentioned, however, this will need to be coupled with good form on the field as well, and a strong showing in the Bangladesh Premier League will certainly help. The BPL will enter its sixth year in 2019, and though it doesn’t boast the depth of quality of some other domestic T20 leagues around the world, there are a number of very good players involved - and Warner himself certainly helps.
Warner will be the best player on the Sylhet Sixers, but he will have help from the likes of Sohail Tanvir, Liton Das, Sabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain. Other squads also have plenty of quality, and though much of it is in the form of Bangladesh players - the likes of Shakib al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah - for example, there is also a whole lot of international talent.
The Rangpur Riders probably boast the most of it, with Chris Gayle, Alex Hales and AB de Villiers giving them a extremely dangerous batting line up. Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell will suit up for the Dhaka Dynamites - a name very appropriate for the playing style of both of them - while Shahid Afridi and Warner’s fellow conspirator Steve Smith will join the Comilla Victorians.
The Chittagong Vikings will enjoy the presence of explosive New Zealand batsman/wicket-keeper Luke Ronchi, and Carlos Brathwaite and Dawid Malan will join the Khulna Titans. Overall, the depth of talent is arguably as good as its ever been in the league, and given a large portion of it is batting talent, we can likely expect to see a lot of high scoring matches in the league - something that will certainly suit David Warner.
The league was originally supposed to take place in October and November of 2018, but due to security concerns as a result of the Bangladesh general election, these dates were changed. Now, it will kick off on the 5th of January, with the group stage running through to the 2nd of February before four finals are played. The final itself will take place on the 8th of February.
With plenty of talent across the seven squads it is likely to be an entertaining series with a significant following, and Warner will no doubt be steeling himself for a big tournament. He certainly has a long way to go to repair his relationship with both the Australian cricketing public and the Australian cricket team itself, but if he can put in a lot of runs and demonstrate a high level of leadership as captain of the Sylhet Sixers, it will go a long way to achieving that reparation.