Warner set to return to his roots
In the space of a couple of months David Warner is likely to go from playing for his country to fighting for his state place. This week he is part of Australia's Twenty20 team, in October he will be at the Champions League in India for New South Wales, but when the domestic season starts down under he is set to be playing for Eastern Suburbs in Sydney grade cricket.
When Warner was thrown into Australia's Twenty20 side to face South Africa in Melbourne he hadn't played a first-class game. He responded with a rampaging 89 from 43 balls and suddenly he was the latest boy-wonder. It was inevitable that after such a rapid rise there would be a sudden fall and Warner struggled to build on his early success when promoted to the 50-over team. From seven ODIs he averages 15.14 and for now he is back as a Twenty20 specialist.
"I'm in the Twenty20 and still playing for my country. It's still a thrill for myself, but I've got to work hard," Warner said. "You can't get to the top and stay there for the rest of your career. There will be setbacks, this is one of them and it's another challenge for me to raise the bar for the season coming with New South Wales. I will go back and help them as much as I can, try and get some runs personally to get back in the one-day team."
He is far from certain to be given a berth in the New South Wales team when the season starts. There is a battle for batting positions in the side with a host of internationals on the books. Phillip Hughes, Simon Katich, Phil Jacques, Shane Watson and Michael Clarke are all Blues, and while Watson and Clarke will be in India for a one-day series, the likes of Usman Khawaja, Peter Forrest, and Dominic Thornely are likely to be ahead of Warner, who only made his first-class debut in the final match of last season.
"I haven't spoken to any of the selectors while I've been over here. I've spoken to the coach a little - I'm in the one-day and Twenty20 side - but with Phil [Hughes] getting dropped he's got to come back into the team and Phil Jacques is almost fit again so it's going to be hard for me to get in. I've just got to bide my time, go home and start back in grade again with Eastern Suburbs. I love playing with my mates there, it's home, and I'm in that comfort zone there and hopefully I can put the scores together."
It's a fairly extraordinary life to lead - playing at the highest level, then fighting for a first-class place - but in many ways a very modern phenomenon. Warner is almost the prototype Twenty20 specialist, with an IPL contact in the bag, but he is desperate to move his game on at all levels. "I'm only young and I want to play Test cricket," he said. "That's always been my dream as a kid and it's what I've always wanted to do. I can't be one of those who just plays Twenty20. Obviously I want to reach my goals that I've set and continue that path.
"I respect all the decisions that have come my way, like not playing first-class cricket until I've put the numbers on the board at grade level. My numbers have added up, but obviously you just have to bide your time. We have a very good and young team at New South Wales and it's going to be a hard one to crack, but all I can do is keep scoring runs and the rest will take care of itself."
Warner's numbers in Twenty20 internationals are strong. In eight innings he has only fallen for single figures twice and in the opening match of the World Twenty20 made 63 off 53 balls after two wickets fell in the first over. Against England, at Old Trafford, on Sunday he hit 33 from 26 balls despite admitting he found conditions tough and he hopes further contributions will boost his future prospects.
"I couldn't adapt straight away because there was a bit more pace and bounce and obviously they were targeting one area of more so I had to adapt," he said. "Hopefully tomorrow I can get a bit more of a free rein so I'm looking forward to it.
"I've got this next game and if I can put some numbers together then there's the Champions League followed by an Indian tour over there. If I can get some good totals and keep pressing claims I can make sure my name is up there in the list if any injuries come along. If I keep scoring runs things might happen for me."
What makes it harder for Warner is the sporadic nature of Twenty20 internationals. After these two matches against England, Australia have just three more before the next World Twenty20 in West Indies in April. "It's just one of those things. In the future they might have three or four [Twenty20] games in the future but at the moment it's a long time between drinks," he said. "It does break the momentum a little if you play one game here for Australia then maybe not again for two months. I've got to try and cope with that and be positive when I play."
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo