SYDNEY (Reuters) - It was only in March last year that a tearful David Warner sat in a lecture theatre at the Sydney Cricket Ground and told the assembled media he was resigned to never playing for Australia again.
Some 17 months on, with his rehabilitation after a one-year ball-tampering ban apparently completed, the 32-year-old will return to the test arena at Edgbaston on Thursday at the start of his sixth Ashes series.
The opener has kept his own counsel on the Newlands incident since that media conference and preferred to let his bat do the talking on the road back from perdition.
He cannot but be aware that there are those back home who make him the main instigator of the plot to tamper with the ball and believe he should not be representing his country.
Indeed, there are some in Australia who believe Warner should never have worn the baggy green cap again after punching now England captain Joe Root in a Birmingham pub in 2013.
Needs must, however, and his recall to the test side along with Steve Smith became inevitable when Australia lost a home test series to India for the first time around the New Year.
Permanently banned from holding a leadership role in the team after the ball-tampering saga, the former vice captain will be looking to do what he does best — put his team on the front foot with a torrent of runs.
There have been 6,363 of them in test cricket with 1,520 of them coming against England but the pugnacious left-hander does have one statistical anomaly that he is keen to fix over the five-test series.
Of his 21 test hundreds, three have come in Ashes tests but none in England and he still remembers two that got away in the second test of the 2015 series when he scored 38 and 83 while Smith plundered a double century at Lord’s.
“I haven’t got a hundred (in England),” Warner told reporters last week.
“I think when I look back and reflect on how I’ve played over here, I fought hard, in the first innings I think besides one dismissal I got some pretty good balls, and that’s what happens in this game and you’ve got to try to forget about that and don’t over-think it.
“I know the Lord’s test I was a bit upset and missed out and the other boy got 200. They’re always in the back of your mind, but now I’m just a bit hungrier and determined to play that longer innings.”
Certainly whatever moral qualms people might have about Warner, he has proved again this year that there is absolutely nothing wrong with his batting.
He topped the run-scoring charts with 692 in the Indian Premier League and was second behind Rohit Sharma at the Cricket World Cup in England with 647.
Warner has always had the ability to produce batting pyrotechnics but he believes his year of exile playing club cricket in Sydney has added patience to his game that will perhaps serve him best in the test arena.
“I think you saw that during the (World Cup) that I hung in there a lot, the old me probably would have thrown the bat at it quite often,” he added.
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty