David Warner joins Sydney Thunder after 10-year Big Bash League hiatus

David Warner wants to meet with Cricket Australia’s board about his leadership ban after confirming a Big Bash League return with the Sydney Thunder.

Warner announced on Sunday his nine-year BBL exile was over after signing a two-year deal with the Thunder that will allow him to play for them when not representing Australia. His signature is a major coup for CA, given Warner has the potential to bring the kind of crowds the competition enjoyed at its peak.

The hard-hitting opener has played just three matches in BBL history, having scored 101no for the Thunder in the tournament’s inaugural game and played his last in the 2013-14 season for Sydney Sixers.

The 35-year-old’s return comes after months of negotiations with cricket bosses, while he was also approached by the rich UAE Twenty20 league.

Talk of Warner’s return had also centred around possible lifting of his lifetime team leadership ban, imposed by CA after the ball-tampering scandal in 2018. The Thunder said on Sunday that no decision had been made on their captaincy, after Usman Khawaja moved north to the Brisbane Heat.

“That hasn’t been brought to the table [by the Thunder],” Warner said. “It’s upon the [Cricket Australia] board to reach out to me and open the doors and I can sit down and have an honest conversation with them.

“The board has changed since back in 2018 when all those sanctions were dealt. It will be great to have a conversation with them and see where we are at.”

Warner’s hopes of an end to his leadership ban have been backed by the likes of Test captain Pat Cummins in recent months. Warner also hoped his return to the BBL would help ensure local players stayed in the Australian system going forward.

The competition is at a crucial juncture, and efforts are being made to bring in greater foreign talent in next week’s overseas draft while also trying to free up January for Australia’s multi-format stars to take part.

“I know it is important and I know that Cricket Australia and other players and the future generation will benefit from me playing,” Warner said. “I am almost at the back end of my career, I don’t know how much time I have left. So for me it is important to give back to our game and make sure it is in a good place come the next domestic TV rights deal.

“It’s about making sure the next generation of players are coming through the right path. That’s through playing cricket for Australia. Test cricket is the pinnacle. I want kids to aspire to play Test cricket. It is important for us big guys at the top to give back as much as I can.”

Warner will be available for up to five BBL matches this season plus finals, with his arrival likely to coincide with opener Alex Hales’s exit for the UAE league should the Thunder retain him in the draft.

Steve Smith, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Cameron Green, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are the remaining centrally-contracted players not yet signed up for the BBL, with the latter two pacemen indicating they want to rest at that time.