David Warner’s BBL return confirmed with two-year Sydney Thunder deal

David Warner's BBL return confirmed with two-year Sydney Thunder deal

David Warner’s return to the BBL for the first time since 2013 has been confirmed with a two-year deal for his original club Sydney Thunder.

Late last month the Australian reported that Warner was going to request permission to play in the new ILT20 league in the UAE rather than the BBL after the cancellation of the South Africa ODI series in January opened up space for Australia’s multi-format players.

That put in motion a chain of events that played out swiftly, the outcome of which will see Warner return to the club where he has played two of the three BBL matches in his career. He should be available for five regular-season matches after the final Test against South Africa in early January and then the finals if Thunder make it that far.

Warner said he was aware of the bigger picture and how important a successful BBL was to the entire game in Australia.

“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 said. “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.”

It is understood that Warner’s deal will match that of the platinum players in the upcoming BBL draft – AUD$340,000 – with a portion of that coming from Thunder’s salary cap and the rest from CA.

Warner’s signature is a huge boost for the BBL and CA more broadly as they face a legal battle with host broadcaster Channel Seven which largely revolves around the quality of the tournament. It is also likely to be the start of Australia’s leading players being paid far more to appear in the BBL as it attempts to compete with the riches available elsewhere.

Discussions around the new MoU between CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association will gather pace shortly with the BBL salary cap key parts of the negotiations due to the rapidly evolving T20 franchise landscape.

It had already not gone unnoticed by Australia’s domestic cricketers how much money was being offered for overseas players – especially in the platinum category – and how it will put them well ahead of the top-paid local players such as Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh. With Warner now commanding a similar fee it is inevitable that there will be pay hikes across the board, but that is unlikely to be until next season.

On a purely cricketing level, Warner’s deal with Thunder makes plenty of sense. There is the previous link to the club while they were also on the lookout for a top-order batter after Usman Khawaja moved to Brisbane Heat, although Warner will only cover part of the season. He also has strong links to Thunder coach Trevor Bayliss.

“Davey’s record on the field speaks for itself and I have no doubt he already has, and will continue to, inspire many, many kids to play and love cricket,” Bayliss said.

Warner’s three previous BBL appears have been spread across three seasons from 2011 to 2013. He made a century in his first appearance against Melbourne Stars at the MCG before the following season, where he played for crosstown rivals Sydney Sixers, collecting a duck against Thunder. Then, back with Thunder in 2013, he made a half-century against Sixers, sharing a century opening stand with Khawaja, in a match his team lost.

Warner was one of a number of Australia’s players without a BBL deal. Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne signed extensions with their clubs last week, but Steven Smith has turned down Sixers’ initial offer as he considers whether he will want to rest before the tour to India.

Mitchell Starc and Test captain Pat Cummins will also rest during that window while it could be that Josh Hazlewood, the No.1-ranked men’s T20I bowler in the world, follows the same path. The chances of Cameron Green being involved will also depend on his Test workload. Scott Boland also currently does not have a BBL deal.

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