David Warner’s fall from grace at Sunrisers Hyderabad could be explained by compatriot Tom Moody’s desire to replace Ravi Shastri as Indian coach.
It’s understood by foxsports.com.au the former World Cup-winner and well-travelled coach is eyeing the Indian coaching job, which is set to be vacated by Shastri following the impending T20 World Cup.
Moody, who after a long stint as head coach of the Sunrisers, where together with Warner as his captain led them to glory in 2016, was replaced by former England coach Trevor Bayliss but later named as the franchise’s director of cricket.
The former all-rounder previously coached Sri Lanka, while he also led a number of domestic sides including Western Australia.
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But the decision to drop Warner as captain earlier this season and then out of the XI together, before leaving him out of the squad entirely by the end of the disappointing campaign set the cat amongst the pigeons as to why.
It’s believed the Sunrisers’ owners are influential figures in the BCCI, which could explain the decision to leave Warner out for their past half-a-dozen matches and turn to youth.
Warner, too, has been approached by a number of other IPL franchises, who have been shocked by the run-scoring machine being sidelined.
Former Indian star Sanjay Manjrekar said Warner was the IPL’s greatest batter and opined his axing could not have been solely down to his deeds with the willow.
“Warner’s numbers over the last few years have been just mind boggling,” he told India Today last week.
“I think he is the best IPL batter we have ever seen with regards to longevity.
“Warner has managed just 195 runs in eight matches this season in stark contrast to his record in the previous seasons of the IPL.
“He indicated in comments on Instagram that he may never play another game for SRH this season and if that turns out to be true, this will be the first time since 2013 that Warner has scored less than 500 runs in a season.
“His poor form has not been going on for so long that Warner gets dropped on batting form, so it has to be a non-cricketing reason and we have no idea what that is.
“That is the other thing I don’t understand, why everything is so hush-hush but there is something definitely going wrong.”
Only Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli have scored more runs than Warner in the IPL.
But the Australia’s average (41.59) and strike-rate (139.96) is considerably higher than the aforementioned names.
When Warner was dropped in May, he had just posted his second half-century while averaging 32.16 from six knocks.
At the time, Warner’s axing was put down to his slower than usual strike rate (110), which had contributed to the 2016 champions winning just one of their opening six matches.
He was replaced by Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi as the fourth overseas player in the playing XI alongside new captain Kane Williamson, Englishman Jonny Bairstow and Afghan spinner Rashid Khan.
Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori described the omission as “staggering”.
After the IPL was suspended because of a mass Covid outbreak across India and later shifted to the UAE, Warner returned but the runs didn’t.
Warner managed nought and two before being dropped.
It’s understood he was striking the ball as well as ever in the nets.
Strangely though, the left-hander, who is set to open the batting for Australia at this month’s T20 World Cup, wasn’t just left out of the XI, he was left out of the entire 18 person squad.
Under the Covid-19 protocols, an extended 18-person squad was brought to the matchday venues in the advent of a positive case.
But in the final two matches of the season, Warner wasn’t even included in the extended squad with Moody and Bayliss turning to youth.
“We can’t make the final so have made a decision that we want the young players to experience not just the matches but time at the ground, around the set-up, and for this match we made the decision,” Bayliss said late last month.
“(Warner) was not the only experienced player we left back at the hotel.
“We have a number of young players that haven’t been to the ground. Even as reserves. We wanted to give them an opportunity to come along and experience that. That may continue for a few more games yet. We don’t know.”
One of those names is Abdul Samad, who averaged just 12.33 with the bat from 11 matches and follows his average of 22.20 from 12 matches last season.
On Saturday, with Warner still sidelines despite Williamson’s absence, their season finished with a disappointing 42-run loss after the Mumbai Indians hit 9-235.
The heavy defeat left Sunrisers with just three victories from 14 matches in 2021, as they finished at the bottom of the eight-team competition.
While Bayliss refused to be moved on whether the Sunrisers would look to buy Warner again at the next auction, the Australian gave a big hint that his time at the IPL franchise had come to an end.
“Thank You for the memories created,” he wrote.
“To all the fans, you have been a driving force for our team always to give 100%. I can’t thank you all enough for the support shown. It’s been a great ride. My family and I are going to miss you all!! #respect #cricket #hyderabad One last effort today.”
Warner’s axing, by an Australian of all people, has been more problematic by the fact he is poised to partner Aaron Finch at the top of the order in the T20 World Cup.