David Warner, onions and retirements

Warner announced his retirement this week, actually, he announced three.

Since heading down to David Warner's press conference the other day, I have been thinking a lot about retirement in cricket. Although, that is not how the presser started.

The conversation was typically very Warner, he went out of his way not to say anything too full on about Stuart Broad, but also couldn't help adding this when asked about facing him:

"I haven't really worked on that yet. I'm concentrating the World Test Championship final first. So Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj is probably on my mind first. That's what's important to us right now. And then I'll switch on, and worry about Stuart Broad if they select him first Test this time."

That is a very Warner thing to do, answering the question truthfully. Of course he is thinking about the Indian attack first. But he still mentions that Broad may not get picked because of course he does.

He was also asked about Broad's utterly stupid comments that the last series doesn't count:

"We all played through Covid. We all had the same conditions. I think he said something about no one played a test match away, but at the end of the day, we still spent, you know, close to 90 days away. It's from our home bed. He might get a little bit homesick and he can't cope with playing under those circumstances, but we've all played Ashe series away.

You had a golf course there. That's what they do. They love playing golf. They had a great resort. We had the same facilities. So yeah, look, that's his opinion. For me I don't worry about that stuff."

What I like about this is the needless dig at Broad getting homesick and then saying they could play golf, so it's all good.

But the press conference really turned when Warner was asked about retirement plans. Now, this is always the worst question to ask a player, because in their eyes you are either saying they are old, or they are finished, or probably both.

But Warner answered this one properly, and in great detail:

"I've always said that the World Cup would probably be my final game, but I think, you know, I'll probably owe it to myself and my family. If I can score runs here, continue to play back in Australia. I can definitely say I won't be playing that West Indie series.

So I think if I get through this and I can make the Pakistan series, I'll definitely finish up then."

Now, there is a lot in this. One is he has picked the SCG as his last Test, which is a very Australian thing to do. And is also calling it out nine Tests before it happens.

But he also made it sound like the ODI World Cup may be his last time in white ball cricket for Australia. And he said more on this:

"It looked very daunting. Now whether or not you're gonna play this Test match before the series. Given that there's a World Cup as well. We go South Africa as well, and then you got cricket on the back end of the World Cup in India. So leading into a home summer, like it's gonna be exhausting."

That sounds like a man who has read the schedule for this year and is thinking, 'well I can just about do all of this year, but a World Cup next year in June for T20, that might be too far'.

Luckily Scott Bailey just got the last question in to clarify this:

"I want to play that 2024 World Cup. It is something on the back of my mind, but we've got a lot of cricket, before that and then I think it stops from February. So for me, then I have to play in some of the other franchise leagues, and then get into that rhythm to play in that. I think it's in June, so there will be a bit of cricket around to play. Who knows, I might go back and play a play shield game for New South Wales."

Right, so he is still planning on playing in the World T20. And maybe a shield game, but we can leave that alone a little. The T20 World Cup is in a year, and who knows what can happen to his game or Australian cricket in that time. I still think the opening spot is his if he wants it. But that's a separate argument right now.

The main thing about all this is how complicated modern cricket is. Because in some ways Warner's retirement is fairly straightforward. Within the space of eight months, he will be retiring from all three formats. But that is only because there are back-to-back World Cups, and you can throw in the WTC and Ashes there as well.

But it's still retiring by instalments. He carefully chooses his last game in each one, hoping the selectors allow him to do that. But that is just the first three rungs of retirement, he still has the T20 one after that as well.

If you are an all-format player, there are now probably four - maybe even five - levels of retirement you have to consider. It is no longer a case of just retiring from international cricket, but of which bits you want to leave first. You then have T20 retirement duty. And you might also have first-class retirement if you are still wanted in county cricket.

When players stop the game, it is such a huge moment. They are basically giving up on the chance ever to earn that kind of money again. They are choosing a return to normal human society, or heading there for the first time. And they are trying to work out how much pain is worth one last paycheque.

So then to add so many layers to that kind of decision seems trickier. I would never have said David Warne is like an onion, I think he's pretty transparently who he is. But in this retirement, he is having to peel off a part of his game a piece at a time, until one day, it's just him in his house, making social videos with his family.