Warner bestowed with team’s ‘highest honour’
David Warner was handed the honour of leading the Australian team victory song in the same dressing room which last time caused him so much heartbreak.
There was plenty of feeling in this particular rendition of Under The Southern Cross I Stand at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town, as Australia announced themselves as World Cup heavyweights with a crushing series win over South Africa.
Warner's return to the scene of Sandpapergate could not have been any more profound. He led the way with a dazzling 55 off 37 balls with the bat before firing up the vocal chords to silence the ghosts of Newlands once and for all.
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Nathan Lyon is the well-known custodian of the song for the Test team, a tradition that was bestowed on him by Mike Hussey, who had it passed to him by Justin Langer.
It was once performed by Langer on the top of Table Mountain itself, in the players' race at The Bull Ring in Johannesburg, at the old fort in Galle, and last year by Lyon on the outfield of Old Trafford after Australia retained the Ashes in England for the first time in 20 years.
However, mystery has surrounded who performs the ritual for the white-ball teams after series victories and it was fitting that both Hussey and Langer were on hand to watch Warner bellow it out early yesterday morning.
Captain Aaron Finch was unsure who would lead the team song right up until it happened, but didn't hold back in his appraisal of Warner and his influence on a Twenty20 juggernaut which is rapidly firming into World Cup favouritism.
"The way that he goes thinking through his innings, planning his innings pre-game, but then also adapting, it's extraordinary," said Finch, who also scored 50 in a 120-run stand with Warner. "His attention to detail and his planning is unbelievable and as good as anyone I've played with.
"When he's in good form, he's so hard to bowl to."
Steve Smith was also superb in his return to Cape Town, smashing a crucial unbeaten 30 off 15 balls - including two sixes in the last over - to outline his versatility as a finisher.
Australia have arguably the most feared top three and bowling attack in world T20.
Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar again starred with the ball as South Africa were skittled for just 96.
Meanwhile, Warner's ongoing summer of redemption continued after his leading role in the defeat of South Africa, when IPL franchise Hyderabad Sunrisers announced the 33-year-old was returning as captain.
Kane Williamson and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took over the reins as skipper while Warner was rubbed out of the IPL for a year, and then returned as a foot soldier last year in his return to cricket.
But his reinstatement as captain represents another endorsement of his leadership credentials post Cape Town - something he will never be able to reprise in Australian cricket.
"I'm thrilled to be given the captaincy for this coming IPL. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to once again lead the team," said Warner.