These were some of the questions doing the rounds of social media after Warner was dropped for Monday’s clash vs Rajasthan Royals. Warner in fact didn’t travel with the team to the ground and stayed back in the team hotel. He was relieved of team captaincy earlier in the season in phase one (before the forced Covid break).
Over the years, Warner has been one of the biggest pillars of the SRH team. He still remains their highest ever run getter.
But the 2021 season has been well below par for the Australian. In fact this is his worst season in terms of runs scored for matches played since his first season with the IPL , which was 2009. Back then he had scored 163 runs in 7 matches. This season, in the 8 matches he has played, Warner has scored 195 runs. Compare that with what he has done with the SRH outfit, since he joined the team in 2014 and it’s evident he has struggled this season. After all, from 2014 to 2020, Warner managed to score 500 plus runs in every season, including a blockbuster run of 848 runs in the 2016 edition, when he led the Sunrisers to the IPL title.
But the big question is would it be a knee-jerk reaction by the franchise to let Warner go, based on what has happened in this one season.
First, he was removed as captain during the first leg of the IPL 2021 in India due to SRH’s poor run and then was dropped from the clash against Rajasthan Royals. Some reports claim that the hard-hitting opening batsman will be released at the end of the season and will be entering the auction pool for the IPL 2022 mega auction.
The rumour mills began to work overtime when Warner replied on an Instagram post, to a fan’s question. The fan wrote: “Is Warner in the stadium, we didn’t spot him.” To this, Warner replied “Unfortunately won’t be again but keep supporting, please”
STRIPPED OF CAPTAINCY AND THEN DROPPED
Warner’s exit though didn’t surprise too many people. Under Warner’s captaincy this season, SRH managed to win just one match out of five. Due to the team’s dismal show in the cash-rich league, Warner was asked to hand the captaincy baton over to Kane Williamson. The team’s dismal run of form, coupled with his own failings with the bat made things extra hard for one of the worlds most feared T20 batsmen.
Warner, who has scored more than 5000 runs (in all) in IPL history at an average of 41.59 and a strike rate of 139.96, including four tons and 50 half-centuries, has accumulated just 195 runs in 8 matches in the ongoing season, averaging 24.37. His strike rate for 2021, 107.73, is the lowest of all his 12 IPL editions so far.
SRH are languishing at the bottom of the points table. They have played 10 games in the league so far and managed to win just twice.
“We can’t make the finals, so we made a decision that we want the youngsters to experience not just the matches, but time at the ground and around the set-up,” SRH Head coach Bayliss said at the post-match press conference when asked about why Warner was dropped.
“We have a number of young players who haven’t even been to the ground, even as reserves, so we wanted to give them the opportunity to come and experience a game. And that might continue for a few more games, we’ve got to sit down in a day or two and pick a team and a squad of 18. Dave obviously was watching the game at the hotel and giving his support to the boys. Just like everyone else. We’re all in this together,” Bayliss further said.
The decision to drop Warner for the match vs RR worked for SRH. Jason Roy who replaced the Aussie scored a Man of the Match winning 60 off 42 balls, as SRH broke their long losing streak.
WARNER’S JOURNEY WITH SRH, DEBUT, AND TITLE WIN
Warner joined SRH in 2014. In his maiden outing with SRH, Warner scored 528 runs in 14 matches, averaging 48.00, including 6 fifties. He continued his rich vein of form for SRH in 2015 as well, hammering 562 runs in 14 matches at an average of 43.23, including 7 half-centuries. Warner, in his third season with SRH, guided the Orange Army to their maiden title win. The Warner-led army defeated the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore by 8 runs in the grand finale to clinch their maiden silverware. The 2016 season was also Warner’s best with the bat in the IPL. He scored 848 runs in 17 matches at an average of 60.57, including 9 fifties. Warner scored 600 plus runs in the 2017 and 2019 seasons, averaging 58.27 and 69.20, respectively. He once again had an impressive outing in the 2020 season where he scored 548 runs in 16 matches at an average of 39.14.
BALL-TAMPERING BAN AND LEADERSHIP ROLE
Dropped from the leadership role and missing the 2018 season, after the ball-tampering scandal, Warner was once again given charge of the team in 2020. SRH entered the playoffs and won the Eliminator against Royal Challengers Bangalore but lost to Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2.
WHAT NEXT FOR WARNER? MEGA AUCTION AND INDIAN FAN FOLLOWING
If SRH do decide not to retain Warner after the 2021 season he will go back to the auction pool. Though it will be a surprising decision, the southpaw has enough fuel left in his tank to attract major buyers in the mega auction for the IPL 2022. The three-time Orange Cap holder with SRH (2015, 2017, and 2019) is a tried and tested match winner.
Warner regularly puts up videos of his family and has a huge fan following in India.
With two more teams joining the IPL bandwagon in October this year, it will be interesting to see what David Warner’s IPL future looks like.