Australia batting needs 'clarity' - Warner
As he set aside last year's acrimonious exit to return to the Sydney Thunder franchise, David Warner called for continuity in Australia's Test batting line-up during the forthcoming Ashes series, after the unsettling changes swung in England by the new coach Darren Lehmann and the captain Michael Clarke.
While England maintained the same top six until the series was won, Lehmann preferred a constant shuffle that seemed only to rest on a productive combination in the fifth Test at the Oval after all other avenues had been exhausted. Warner was tried as a middle-order batsman before returning to the top alongside Chris Rogers, and said he was hoping for a clear path forward in the home series.
"You just want some clarity," Warner told ESPNcricinfo. "It's a word that's been popping up the last 12 months with us in the Australian team, and I think now they've found the right combination. I thoroughly enjoyed batting with Chris out there, he's a quiet guy, he kept me going. If I played a false shot he didn't come down and say, 'Don't play that'. It was more like, 'Alright mate, next one, wait for the right one' and we'd feed off each other very well.
"Darren's the new coach, and he knows how we all play, but under different situations of the game and scenarios it gave him an insight about where you can bat and how well you can bat. So it's good for him to see what our batsmen can do and our bowlers, and hopefully they've got everything set in stone come the first Test."
Warner referred to the hype around the visit to England as something of a distraction, quite apart from the misadventures in Birmingham - labelled "despicable" by the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland - that cost him his place until the third match in Manchester. While quipping he was glad to see Joe Root making the tour, Warner acknowledged the height of England's chosen pace battery as an area requiring preparation.
"Leading into this Ashes series hopefully the hype's not as big as it was in England, because we know we just lost the key moments," he said. "We know that over here, we'll be right on top of those key moments. Hard wickets, home advantage, they're not going to be as slow as they were over there, and with our bowlers being fresh going into that first Test, I'm pretty sure we'll be ready to go.
"They've got some tall bowlers and some bounce there definitely. They'll use it to their advantage. We've just got to go to our training sessions. For the last 12 months, a lot of us have been training with a guy standing on a big board and getting throw downs. We've got some tall fast bowlers as well, which get up around the ears and you've got to play it how it is. We're not scared at all."
The sight of Warner again modelling a Thunder shirt at Sydney's Olympic Stadium was not a possibility many would have predicted a year ago, when he quit the Big Bash League team after falling out with the general manager John Dyson. Warner's reservations about the organisation of the team were to be backed up at summer's end, when the team's poor performance and questionable administration resulted in a complete overhaul by CA and Cricket New South Wales.
Dyson has been replaced by Nick Cummins, a widely experienced corporate operative, while the team's highest profile signing is no longer the flashy Chris Gayle but the consummate team man, Michael Hussey. "Obviously there were a bit of personal issues with me and John, nothing to do with the coaching staff," Warner admitted. "But that's how it is and now we look forward to this season. I always said I was going to come back to the guys here, so I'm looking forward to the challenge again.
"Led by Huss, the guys who aspire to play at the top level and get that baggy green, he's one guy who you can just look up to, the way he trains and goes about things, his character's going to be fantastic for the guys in that team. I know when I was first here guys were rocking up late to training, just doing little hits here and there and not progressing. I know with Huss and his work ethic and experience, he's going to lead by example."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here