Warner wants to bat longer and hit harder
David Warner, the Australia batsmen, is at his most ruthless when talking about himself. Although he does not think he has ever struck the ball as sweetly as he is doing at the moment, he still sees the potential to go harder after having realised the importance of taking time to build an innings, even in the shortest format.
Warner faced only one ball before being run-out in the first Twenty20 international on Thursday, but after back-to-back centuries in the Champions League T20, he looks in ominous form. "In India it was tough and I had to grind my way through to the middle overs and be there at the end," Warner said. "I feel like I'm hitting the ball really well but if I wanted to be harsher on myself, I could probably hit them better as well."
As one of the most dangerous T20 players, Warner has been stereotyped as a batting brute but he said there is some art that goes into constructing an innings in the shortest form of the game. "You've still got to get yourself in, I've only just realised that the last couple of months," Warner said. "When I've got myself in I could actually see, not how not easy it is, but how much you can get in the last five overs." Those are words that signify that Warner intends to bat longer and that can only mean the opposition must brace themselves for more sustained assaults.
Warner is not necessarily aiming at becoming the best T20 batsmen in the world, but he "just wants to be recognised as a person in the team who is going to win matches." In his debut against South Africa, at the MCG in 2009, he was that person. His 89 came off just 43 balls and announced that batting in fast-forward mode was the way he would play his game. Although he has not scaled that score on the international scene, he does have three domestic T20 centuries and has developed his game to include shots like the switch-hit.
"Normally just left-handed he is dangerous, but now with the switch-hit, it makes him a unique player and someone you must try to stay one step ahead of," Johan Botha said. Pioneered by Kevin Pietersen, the stroke can thread uncertainty through the opposition but playing it requires careful timing, according to Warner. "It's one of those things where if it's the right time of the game and obviously if we're not under pressure I can play it," Warner said. "I've to be smart as well and make sure it's not in a silly point of the game where it's going to hurt the team."
Warner's evolution as a T20 player has had some asking whether he has ambitions to play in other formats. He said that he would like to show his ability in the upcoming one-day series. "It's been two years since I played a one-day game for Australia and I've learnt a lot in that time, so hopefully I can be a bit more patient."
For some, changing to a longer version of the game would mean a different strategy in the nets but Warner's instincts remain the same. "I like trying to get bat on ball so that's what I try and do," he said. "I do a lot of throw downs in the nets and when I'm batting, it's one of those things where if you get out, you've got to be strict on yourself, and say if you get out more than once you should actually walk out of there and say that's a pretty disappointing net session."
Warner also has ambitions of making the leap up to Test cricket but understands that missing out first-class games at home could peg that aim back a little while. "The only way I'm going to get there is if I keep scoring runs," he said, adding that the ability to be more dependable and less flashy may have to find its way into his game. "I haven't been consistent enough, a lot of people have said that and I know that for a fact, and that's one thing now that I've shown the last couple of innings, that I'm being more consistent," he said. "I'm actually getting myself in and not throwing it away. I'll keep aspiring to be more consistent and hopefully one day I will get that Test cap."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent