David Warner    Getty Images
David Warner Getty Images

Damned as the chief plotter in the Australian ball-tampering scandal, David Warner has been sunk by sparking one controversy too many. The man who made headlines in 2009 by becoming the first player in 130 years to represent Australia without having featured in a first-class match was heading home from South Africa in disgrace on Wednesday, friendless and with his reputation, already bruised by numerous run-ins, shattered.

Along with skipper Steven Smith, the 31-year-old Warner was banned for a year by Cricket Australia for his part in the third Test scandal in Cape Town that saw Cameron Bancroft use sandpaper to illegally scuff up the ball before a laughingly crude attempt to conceal the evidence down his trousers.

“He (Warner) spoke with Cameron (Bancroft) in the change room while Smith was otherwise engaged, seemingly with a lot on his mind,” a Cricket Australia source told AFP, recalling Saturday’s events at Newlands. “I believe Smith knew something was going on, but did not try to find out exactly what.”

For many in the game, Warner’s involvement as the instigator of the lunchtime plot is hardly a surprise.”David Warner is a hard man to keep quiet. If his bat isn’t doing the talking his mouth probably is, and either way you can expect an assertive approach,” is how respected website cricinfo opens its biography of the opening batsman.

In June 2013, Warner was suspended and fined for punching England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar on the eve of the Ashes. “I’m extremely remorseful. I have let my team-mates, Cricket Australia, the fans, myself and my family down,” said Warner at the time.

Two months earlier, he was similarly contrite after an ugly Twitter spat with two Australian journalists.”I could have chosen my words better and I apologise for any offence that my language may have caused,” wrote Warner. But his trademark combative nature never dimmed.

Last year, he was the team’s unofficial shop steward as Australian players and governing body Cricket Australia found themselves at loggerheads over a pay dispute. The row, played out in the public arena, even briefly put the Ashes in doubt.

Warne defended his style, which even then hinted at an ability to shout louder than the boyish-looking Smith, who preferred quiet diplomacy. “The way he (Smith) went about it (talks between the players and CA) was how he wanted to play it and I was always going to come out and be vocal and sticking up for the players,” Warner told Australian media.

Hardly surprising then that Warner, who was vice-captain to Smith with the national team, has been nicknamed ‘The Reverend’. Not that there was any indication of anything holy about him as he led Australia’s assault on the current, doomed South African tour. In the opening Test in Durban, he and home wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock squared up.

Warner claimed De Kock had made “vile and disgusting” remarks about his wife Candice. Warner was fined 75 percent of his match fee and De Kock 25 percent. The Cape Town scandal has already brought Warner financial misery, his $1.8 million (1.45m euros) deal with Hyderabad Sunrisers in the IPL cancelled. When his ban ends, his dream of captaining Australia will also have died.

Whether or not he will be considered too toxic to add to his 74 Test appearances and 6,000-plus runs will be a factor weighed against him. ‘The Reverend’, it appears, has become ‘The Unwanted’.