Almost a year ago, one of the biggest Australian cricketing scandals since Greg Chappell instructed his younger brother Trevor to bowl the last ball of a match, underarm. "Sandpaper-gate" as it has been affectionately dubbed claimed the positions of Cameron Bancroft, as well as captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner. While Bancroft was banned from cricket for 9 months, Smith and Warner received 12 month bans which are due to expire right before the World Cup.
As the ban is set to expire shortly, people have started to talk about how, when and where Smith and Warner will re-enter the Australian XI. In the year since the scandal, Australia's performances have been woeful to say the least, Australia lost series to England, Pakistan, South Africa, and India.
Australia would eventually claim their first series win in a year defeating Sri Lanka earlier in the year. Since then, the Australian national side has recovered defeating India in both the T20 and ODI series, as well as a resounding 5-0 series victory over Pakistan in the UAE.
On the other side, David Warner has since played in the Canadian T20 league, the Caribbean Premier League, the Bangladeshi Premier League, and now the Indian Premier League. While Warner was underwhelming in both the Canadian and Caribbean leagues, he began to find his feet in Bangladesh scoring 2 60-plus scores for the Sixers in their fial three games.
However, since the IPL has started, Warner has scored over 250 runs in his first three innings with the latest an unbeaten century against Royal Challengers Bangalore. If Warner keeps this form up he is surely in contention for one of Australia's World Cup squad positions.
However, Australia should not be in a rush to include Warner in their World Cup Squad, or look to welcome the former Vice-Captain back regardless of the form he is currently in. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Warner caused a significant amount of problems for the Australians during the now infamous series in South Africa.
Outside of the sand-paper incident, Warner was involved in several nasty incidents including when he confronted Quinton de Kock in the tunnel after a particularly heated session of cricket. Released CCTV footage showed the vice-captain being dragged away from the South Africans by Smith and other members of the team.
Another reason that Warner should not be included in the side is also out of respect to the form that Usman Khwaja and Aaron Finch have been playing in. In the immediate aftermath of Warner's ban, Australia scrambled to find a replacement for the destructive opening batsman and finally look like they have a settled combination in the Finch-Khawaja pairing.
Khawaja, in particular, has been impressive with his form, scoring 272 runs in the 5 game series against Pakistan with an average of 54.4. Khwaja, being the junior of the pair, is more likely to make way for the incoming Warner which seems akin to Australia dropping Brad Hodge despite scoring prolifically while he was in the Australian side.
Finally, it's time to admit that while David Warner has contributed a great deal to the Australian national cricket team over the years, from his energetic fielding, to his ferocious attack with the bat, it is time for the Australian cricket team to look past Warner and into the next generation.
As Finch, Warner, and Khawaja are all 32 years old heading into the World Cup, Australia has a great opportunity to include a young up-and-coming opener to learn under the more experienced players. Those big names will not be around for the Australian national side forever and the next generation will slide more smoothly in to place if the transition begins now and not when it is already too late.