At what point do we forgive David Warner?
AS David Warner approached his century during Wednesday night’s World Cup match against Pakistan, many were wondering: will we see the leap?
The trademark ‘Toyota celebration’ had become a regular showing every time Warner hit a hundred, whether it be in the Test match, ODI or T20 arena.
Some loved it, some hated it, but regardless, the fiery left-hander owned it.
But that was before Cape Town.
Warner had arguably the biggest hand in ‘Sandpaper-gate’; he orchestrated the plan, before getting his younger, more inexperienced team-mate Cameron Bancroft to do his dirty work.
It was conduct unbecoming of the vice-captain of the Australian cricket team, and it left fans back home with a rotten taste in their mouths.
While skipper Steve Smith and Bancroft were equally to blame in the cheating – Smith for turning a blind eye as captain and allowing it to happen – it was Warner who took the biggest hit to his popularity stocks.
Much of it was centred around the idea he, as a leader, had hung his impressionable team-mate out to dry.
As a result, the Warner brand had suffered what seemed to be irreparable damage.
The entire saga visibly left him a broken man; there were the tears at his press conference, and unlike Bancroft and Smith – who appeared in television interviews and ads while serving their suspensions – Warner largely shunned the spotlight.
From the outside looking in, it appeared ‘Sandpaper-gate’ had humbled the notoriously fiery competitor known as ‘the Bull’.
It is for that reason many people watching around the world waited with interest to see whether they’d see a reserved celebration from Warner if he reached his century, or not.
After edging the ball past the keeper, it was as if all the emotions Warner had experienced during his 12-month exile came pouring out at once.
The hundred – his first in England in any format – seemed to mean that little bit extra.
Just like before, some loved it, some hated it, but Warner owned it.
The performance ended up proving the most defining in the match, which the Aussies went on to win by 41 runs.
Warner was named Man of the Match, but was widely praised for giving his award to a young Aussie fan in the crowd.
We asked ourselves: are we seeing a new and improved version of David Warner?
And can we as a nation finally, truly forgive him for his role in Australian cricket’s darkest day?
Most fans across the country will still find themselves conflicted about how they really feel.
So many people felt truly betrayed by the actions of ‘the Cape Town three’, and those feelings aren’t simply erased by a single World Cup century.
The biggest sticking point is that fans are searching for a sign Warner has changed – and no bigger example of that would’ve been for him to put the over the top celebration on ice.
The fact that didn’t occur will prompt many to question whether ‘Sandpaper-gate’ has changed him at all.
Regardless, the reality is Warner is back and is here to stay, and at some point those who are still hesitant to forgive him for his past wrongdoings will find a way to do so.
As they say, time heals.
Ironically, Warner wasn’t the only player in the match with a chequered past to perform.
Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir took five wickets in a brilliant bowling performance, but the 27-year-old paceman has had a difficult road in his cricket journey.
After bursting onto the Test match scene as a teenager, Amir looked to have the cricket world at his feet, such was the quick’s raw talent.
But in 2011 he was convicted of spot-fixing, along with two other team-mates, and dealt a five-year ban from the game.
Amir’s performance shows that there is a path to redemption, but it’s not one that happens overnight – regardless of the sentence having been served in full.
Warner seems to be in a good place; he’s back playing his best, and his performance on Wednesday night would’ve warmed the hearts of many Aussies watching at home.
But it’s his actions moving forward that will determine whether he truly win’s back the cricket public’s trust, and how quickly he does it.