David Warner. Picture: REUTERS
David Warner. Picture: REUTERS

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 headed home from SA in disgrace on Wednesday, friendless and with his reputation, already bruised by numerous run-ins, shattered.

Warner spoke with Cameron Bancroft "in the change room while Smith was otherwise engaged, seemingly with a lot on his mind", a Cricket Australia (CA) 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 the ESPNcricinfo website starts 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 teammates, 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 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.

He was the team’s unofficial shop steward in 2017 as Australian players and governing body CA found themselves at loggerheads over a pay dispute.

Warner 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 has been nicknamed "The Reverend".

Not that there was any indication of holiness about him as he led Australia’s assault on the doomed South African tour.

In the opening Test in Durban, he and Quinton de Kock squared up. Warner claimed De Kock had made "vile and disgusting" remarks about his wife, Candice.

The ball-tampering scandal during the Cape Town Test has already cost Warner. His $1.8m deal with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League has been cancelled.

When his one-year ban ends, his dream of captaining Australia will also have died. "The Reverend", it appears, has become "The Unwanted".