David Warner's comeback to top-level cricket has generated a furious debate in the Australian cricket community about his possible return to the national side for World Cup duty. There is no doubt about the quality and capability of the stocky Australian. If batting was the only criteria looked at for selection, he would get into the squad easily.
But it's not that simple. The Aussies are on an eight-match winning streak. Some wonder whether it would be a wise move to disturb the apple-cart. On top of that, the form of the current batsmen has made it difficult to find a spot for Warner in the team.
But the biggest question being asked about Warner's eligibility is whether he adversely affects the dressing room atmosphere. There has been a lot of speculation in Australian media about the aversion some players have towards Warner.
Many are not convinced that he can be re-assimilated in the new environment around the team. Others, on the other hand, believe the weight of his runs should decide the issue. Let's look at what some of the big names have said on this issue.
Aussie legend Shane Warne not only wants Warner to play in the World Cup but predicts that he would win the player of the tournament award. According to the former leg-spinner, a year-off would allow Warner to regain his composure and bat with the desired focus, thus becoming more effective. Warne cited his own example of returning from a one-year ban in 2004 and achieving great success for the next few years.
The legendary Australian opening batsman believes Warner, as well as Smith, should be back into the team for the World Cup. Hayden went to the extent of saying that both these players need to be selected even if they don't perform well in IPL.
Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith believes if Warner's ego is not managed properly, he could have a pernicious effect on the team. In the view of Smith, the stocky opener needs Australian cricket more than it needs him. But he also accepts that Warner possesses great ability and would be an asset with the bat for his team.
The man who would be most affected by this decision is the Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch. He restricted his comments to the difficulty of fitting them into the team. Finch said the selectors will find it 'bloody hard' to pick the 15 players as there are a lot of contenders. The right-hander also warned that some players would be unlucky to be left out – Warner could well be one of them.
The coach of the Australian team has made performance the criteria for judging whether Warner can be back in the team. He said all three previously banned players will be welcome in the side if they perform well. However, Langer did add that the environment also needs to be right for their comeback, stressing on the need for strong young leaders. This may be due to the fear of Warner imposing himself on others.
Two-time World Cup-winning captain Ricky Ponting flagged some concerns regarding the return of Warner, as well as, Smith. He believes that these players would draw excessive attention and that could not only affect their performance but also of their team. Punter advised Australian team to keep this in mind when selecting the squad.