Boost for Big Bash as Warner returns after nine-year absence

David Warner will play in the Big Bash League (BBL) for the first time in 10 seasons around the new year in a major coup for the Australian competition in an increasingly crowded Twenty20 marketplace.

The 35-year-old Australia opener had been linked to the new International League T20 (ILT20) in the United Arab Emirates which, along with another new competition in South Africa, will go head-to-head with the BBL early next year.

Warner will bring his star power to the Sydney Thunder at the conclusion of the Test series against South Africa in early January and could play as many as five matches, the team said in a news release on Sunday.

“I’m really excited to get back to the Big Bash with the club where I started,” said Warner, who played one game for the Thunder in each of the first and third seasons of BBL.

“I care deeply about the game, and I am conscious that the conditions that I enjoy as a professional cricketer have largely come from other senior players who have come before me.

“That is how the game is structured and I understand that my contribution to the future of the BBL will hopefully benefit the next generation of players long after I am retired.”

The Thunder said they had not yet appointed a new captain for the season after the departure of Usman Khawaja to the Brisbane Heat.

Although Warner would be a natural choice, he is currently ineligible under the terms of the lifetime ban from leadership positions in Australian cricket imposed on him for his part in the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

With Indian Premier League millions backing the leagues in the UAE and South Africa, Cricket Australia face far more competition for marquee names than they have in past years.

A number of top players have nominated for the BBL’s inaugural draft on August 28, however, including Afghan spinner Rashid Khan and West Indian T20 stalwarts Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo.

The 12th edition of the BBL will run from December 13 to February 4.

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