Being able to talk the talk and walk the walk takes a special breed of player. In a series were tempers will surely flare and mouthing off will be part and parcel of the day’s play, David Warner is one player, however, who can walk just as well as he talks.
The 26-year-old, who has played just nine Tests for Australia, but already averages over 40, has vowed that he will carry on to play his natural game when the Proteas pace attack comes knocking at The Gabba.
Known for not messing about when it comes to batting, Warner has built a reputation as being relentlessly ruthless, and says things will be no different when the first Test starts at The Gabba on Friday.
Warner is by no means a one-trick pony, though. Last summer he scored a rather patient 123 off 170 balls against New Zealand in Hobart and dug in for 136-ball 50 in Roseau against the West Indies earlier this year. He’s played all sorts of innings in his short time of opening the batting for Australia.
Warner reckons that the best approach at The Gabba – renowned for its pace-friendly pitches – is to just have a go.
“On grounds like this and the WACA, I think it can be [the best approach], because if you play your shots the ball can go anywhere,” Warner said in Brisbane ahead of the first Test.
“If you hit them, you hit them. If you don’t, they’re going to be flying all over the place. The thing for me is being positive in the intent that I show out there – no half-hearted shots, be committed to what I want to do, have my game-plan structured and make sure I stick to it.”
While South Africa has been lauded for its pace advantage and Warner agrees that the Proteas have some of the best bowlers in the world, he insists that by no means gives anybody the upper hand.
“They’ve got to turn up and bowl, don’t they? You can say they’ve got three of the best bowlers in the world, even […] four of the best bowlers in the world. But they’ve still got to be able to bowl,” Warner said. “On the day, they’ve got to be ready and they’ve got to be going. Our batsmen, for ourselves, we could be red-hot out there. They could be bowling to red-hot batsmen on the day.
“You just don’t know, that’s how fickle this game is. But definitely they’re three of the best bowlers in the world and we’re up for the challenge and can’t wait.”
While the talking up of the attack is all good and well ahead of the Test series, skipper Michael Clarke insists that Warner should ensure he stays focused on his game and reckons that, despite Warner not having played much long-form cricket recently, he’ll be up for the challenge. Warner was in South Africa for the Champions League T20 for three weeks ahead of the Test series and has played only one Sheffield Shield match since his return to Australia. Warner scored just 2 and 39 in that match, but his skipper says the southpaw’s performances in the nets have been good.
“He’s batted a lot in the nets, whether it be in South Africa or Australia,” Clarke said.
“At least he’s faced plenty of bowling in conditions similar to what he’s going to face. Game time is something that all of us want… he hit the ball really sweet in the second innings for New South Wales. Again it’s important Davey continues to work on his game and doesn’t get caught up in the opposition, like all of us.”
Warner might be new to the Test set up, but he’s certainly not new to cricket. He made his debut for New South Wales in 2007 and his international T20 debut in 2009. While he was initially pigeonholed as a short-form-only player, the feisty batsman has done plenty of work with Trent Woodhill and Australia’s batting mentor, Justin Langer, since he stepped onto the international Test stage last year.
“I’m getting such good support. I’m getting the right advice everywhere,” Warner said. “Last year I think I probably listened a lot to too many different people and I was hearing voices in my head. Now I’m just taking in the advice and being selective with what advice I’ve been given.
“I think the last 12 months for me has been thinking out how I play the game, how can I keep playing this game and keep being successful at this level, in all three forms. That’s what I’ve got to learn: to be a bit more consistent, make sure when I’m scoring runs we’re doing well as a team as well.”
The challenge for Warner lies in continuing to prove his critics wrong, and taking the world’s number one and two ranked bowlers to task is the ideal way to do so.
“This shows me where I am at this level,” Warner said. “If I can get on top of these guys and score some runs and do well for our team, I know personally that I’m capable of playing at this level. Team-wise we can see where we are on the world scale.” DM
Photo: Australia’s David Warner hits out during the ICC World Twenty20 Super 8 cricket match against India at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown
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