Hello or goodbye: Warner’s farewell logic is all double Dutch to me

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Ian Holloway is an English football manager who left eight clubs “by mutual consent” without actually being sacked. Holloway coached Bristol Rovers, Queens Park Rangers, Plymouth Argyle, Leicester City, Blackpool, Crystal Palace, Fulham, QPR again, and Grimsby Town without achieving a winning record at any. Yet he dodged the axe at all but Fulham.

His secret? “You need to know when you’ll get the tap on the shoulder and given the old ‘Hello’.” Hello or Goodbye? The clue, as reader David Williams points out, “is in the way they say ‘Hello’.”

Avoiding the sack is a skill practised by the most artful dodgers. Hello, Eddie Jones.

On the other hand: Hello, David Warner!

Warner declared this week that he had proven his critics wrong and made everyone look “stupid” with his heavy scores in the World Cup. Reportedly, these white-ball performances have secured his place in the Australian Test team for a farewell home summer against Pakistan.

Certainly, those who doubted that he could plunder the bowling of Bas de Leede, Logan van Beek and Paul van Meekeren, the Netherlands’ premier white-ball specialists, on a Delhi featherbed have been hit for six. To those who ever thought Warner was finished as a white-ball cricketer (note: such people do not exist) he has one word for you: Kaboom!

David Warner celebrates his century against The Netherlands at the World Cup.Credit: AP

Warner has also succeeded in making the Australian selectors look both stupid and redundant. The selectors have said that limited overs and Test cricket are different games. They’ve now changed their minds. Warner has stuck it right up them. After four years of mediocre Test cricket output, and failing to produce just one innings that could have helped Australia win their first Ashes series in England since 2001, Warner will reportedly retain his Test spot by proving that he is a world-class white-ball cricketer (note: he always has been).

It sounds like the selectors have vacated their jobs by mutual consent.

As his Test cricket batting has become less productive and more performative, Warner has moved with the times. White-ball rules. Kapow!

Warner has also made the Sheffield Shield, after 130 years as the proving ground for Australian Test cricket, look very stupid indeed. Warner’s last line of defence for his Test position has been to do a Hamish McLennan: ‘There’s nobody better.’ But the clue is in the way you say ‘better’. In last year’s Sheffield Shield, Cameron Bancroft scored 945 runs, nearly 300 more than the next player, at an average of 59.06. This season, Bancroft’s Shield scores are 122, 91, 57 and 100. Stupid Sheffield Shield, why do they even play it? And it’s not the first time Bancroft has been made to look stupid by Warner.


Warner is seldom accused of being the sharpest tool in the shed, but you’ve got to hand it to him. After outsmarting selectors, red-ball cricket and the Shield, it’s easy work for him to prove spectators and fringe-dwelling half-interested journalists wrong. Those who thought he would return from his 2018 suspension as strong as ever (I’ll admit I was one), and once again score heavily on Australian pitches if nowhere else, were proven resoundingly and repeatedly wrong. We thought he’d be able to toy with West Indian, English, Pakistani and South African bowlers on home surfaces. Stupid us.

Warner has similarly proven smarter than Cricket Australia, which intended its 2018 suspension to be a punishment. By putting the fear of exposure into the heart of the cricket establishment by not snitching, he has magically turned his suspension into a reward, where he can avoid the old Hello, dictate his own selection and name his farewell. Even veterans of the dodge like Ian Holloway and Eddie Jones would acknowledge the skill in that.

This might be taken as an anti-Warner opinion, but it depends how you say ‘anti’. Personally, having praised David Warner in the years since 2011 more than any Australian Test cricketer except Nathan Lyon, having enjoyed his batting to the utmost, I can say, hand on heart, that I have proven my admiration for him. But I must have been stupid too.

The 110 per cent of Australian cricket spectators who thought Warner’s time was up in Test cricket two or three years ago have also been made to look stupid. Since he returned from his suspension, and his Test batting became more about creating diversions than producing runs, Warner appears to have received a singular, and peculiar, favourable treatment. Is it a shakedown? Is it about preparing a second career as a TV commentator? Maybe we’re all just a bit stupid and not seeing the full picture.

Warner, like Holloway, looks like he will be one of those rare actors who get off the stage without receiving the dreaded tap on the shoulder. Instead, a self-tap, a contactless transaction, and a departure by mutual consent. He must, of course, get through to Sydney by justifying his selection in the first two Pakistan Test matches in Perth and Melbourne. (Note: he doesn’t really.)

An SCG farewell in January would be a genuine triumph of cunning and the ability to bend reality to his will – all of which are prerequisites for survival and prosperity in our world. If Warner pulls it off, you have to acknowledge the tenacity, the street-smarts, the self-confidence and the sheer entertainment value of it all. Will he deserve it? Doesn’t matter really. He will have made it so. Just listen closely to the audience, however. The clue will be in how they say Goodbye.

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