Banned in Australia, controversial cricketer chosen to captain new Winnipeg pro team

Controversial Australian cricketer David Warner has been appointed captain of the Winnipeg team in Canada’s newest professional cricket tournament.

Earlier this year, Warner was banned from international and domestic state cricket for 12 months by Cricket Australia following the ball-tampering row that blew up during the national team’s tour of South Africa. He had been opening batsman for the Australian national team.

In his first competitive action for three months, the former Australia vice-captain has made only six runs in three innings for the Winnipeg Hawks, one of six teams in the new Global T20 Canada tournament. 

The 31-year-old cricketer replaces the injured West Indian Dwayne Bravo as skipper.

Former Australian cricket vice-captain David Warner cries as he talks to the media in Sydney on March 31, 2018, after being sent home from South Africa following a ball-tampering scandal. (Daniel Munoz/The Associated Press)

“He’s going to be a good leader,” Hawks coach Waqar Younis told the BBC.

“He’s a team man. He’s upfront and he likes to give whatever his knowledge is.”

Those sentiments were echoed by local cricketers practising at Assiniboine Park on Wednesday night.

“He’s a world-class player, no doubt about that,” said Amrinder Dhillon, who plays for the Winnipeg Blues. “I would have loved to have watched him play live and learn a lot from him.”

Overall, Dhillon said he’s excited about the establishment of the Global T20 Canada event. But as one of the city’s elite cricketers, he’s disappointed the Winnipeg team doesn’t have any local representation.

“The bad thing about that league is that no one from Winnipeg has been selected,” said Dhillon. “Next year, we guys are looking to get into that and hopefully someone from here makes it.”

Amrinder Dhillon plays for the Winnipeg Blues cricket team and Team Manitoba. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Manoj Chaudhuri, the lead chairman of Manitoba Cricket, said he has no concerns about Winnipeg being represented by a player with Warner’s history. He described him as “a very fine batsman” with a lot of international experience, having previously captained the Australian national team and a team in the Indian Premier League.

“Having a guy like him and a few other guys from the other nations definitely will bring a lot of experience and will help the youth in Canada,” said Manoj.

Play in the Global T20 Canada runs from June 28 until July 15. The Winnipeg Hawks enter play on Thursday with a 2-1 record.

All 22 matches are being played at the Maple Leaf Cricket club, just north of Toronto.