David Warner returns to the field after Cricket Australia ball-tampering saga
In his first public appearance since the cricket scandal, Warner held a clinic for young girls in Darwin. (ABC News: Lucy Marks)
Disgraced former cricketer David Warner is back on the pitch for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal that embroiled the Australian side.
The sacked batsman accepted a 12-month ban in April for his part in hatching a plan to scuff the ball during a test in South Africa.
The saga engulfed the cricket world, and drew the ire of fans and players alike, later claiming the scalps of Warner, captain Steve Smith and junior opening batsman Cameron Bancroft.
As part of the Cricket Australia sanctions, all three players have been suspended from all international and domestic cricket, and must undertake 100 hours of voluntary service in the cricket community.
Warner spent Sunday morning training young women and girls in power-hitting techniques and T20 cricket at Darwin’s cricket oval.
“I think one mistake, one silly mistake shouldn’t define his whole career,” said Bronwyn McRostie, whose daughter Hannah, 11, took part in the clinic.
“He’s been a great cricketer and I think he’s got a lot more to give.
“It’s great he’s got the time to come up here and help the girls, especially, because there’s just not enough women cricketers out there, especially in Darwin.”
Budding cricketers were taught power-hitting techniques and T20 cricket. (ABC News: Lucy Marks)
It is Warner’s first public appearance since the saga put his career on hold.
And while public opinion of the former cricketer may remain divided, budding players were just happy to spend time on the field.
“It was so much fun — I didn’t know I had so much power in me, because normally I would just hit little ones,” 11-year-old Hannah said.
“And this year, for my cricket games, my goal is to hit a four.
“I feel pretty special because I want to be a famous cricketer as well, when I’m older.”
The training clinic was part of a push to grow the women and girls cricket competition in Darwin.
NT Cricket chief executive Joel Morrison said Warner’s skills and experience were “invaluable” for young women learning the game for the first time.
“It’s so important for us because we’ve got a big focus in our strategy to grow our women and girls competition,” Mr Morrison said.
“Which up in Darwin has been pretty well non-existent for the last seven or eight years.”
Despite the saga, local parents still backed the embroiled former cricket star (ABC News: Lucy Marks)
Mr Morrison said despite Warner’s fall from grace, he was still welcomed and respected by the local cricket community.
“And sure, he’s made a mistake and he’s put his hand up and acknowledged that,” Mr Morrison said.
“So I think it’s just a great environment to come and spend some time in a local cricket community and be welcomed back with open arms
“Everyone will make their own opinions, but the community has really embraced him while he’s been up here, and its been fantastic for us.”
It was a sentiment echoed amongst parents at the clinic, who believe Warner can still be a good role model for young players.
“I think it’s also good to have all the young people see that you can move on if you make a mistake, and go forward,” said one parent, Renee Cloughessy.
“And I think anything he can do to redeem himself,” added another, Lizzie McCormack.
“Why would you waste all that knowledge and experience? It’s good to pass it on.”
In April, Warner publicly apologised for his role in the ball-tampering scandal, and said he would do everything he could “to be a better person, teammate and role model”.
Warner is expected to travel to Arnhem Land on Monday to promote a driver education app, before returning to Darwin on Thursday.