SA v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 4th day March 4, 2014

Warner thrives on sledges

41

'I love it when there's banter in the middle'

Throughout their long and legendary careers, it was a common dictate of bowlers and fielders not to sledge Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara. In the case of Tendulkar, the verbals seemed to have no effect. In the case of Lara, they often served to rouse him to feats of batsmanship that may not have been seen had the opposition kept their mouths shut.

David Warner is still a long way from emulating either man in terms of run-making, but he too can be added to the 'do not sledge' ledger. Following the ball-tampering allegation he raised on Australian radio, Warner was not only fined by the ICC but warned by South Africa's captain Graeme Smith to expect a hot reception at Newlands. His response has been definitive, twin centuries in a dominant Australian display to cap the finest series of his career thus far.

While tempering some of his earlier excesses of quote-ability, Warner was frank in expressing his delight in making himself a target, then backing his ability to fight off his assailants, no matter how riled they may be. So much does Warner thrive on confrontation that he admitted to looking to start one if it was not already there.

"You don't always want to play like that but when there is a little bit of pressure on I do find another gear," he said. "It does help me sometimes but I think the other thing is that when I get out there and they start giving me a little bit of banter I love that I am in the contest then.

"If they are not going to talk to me when I am out there I will try to niggle them, I will try and say something when I bat. I've ventured away from that because now I have given ammo out in the media or in previous games. I love it when they come at me it is a challenge.

"Sometimes I think when I do deliver something in the media I probably do say it in a way where it does get misunderstood. But I've been brought up to be honest, I'm always going to continue to be honest and not cross that line. I've got to keep working on my ability to do that, and not give you guys ammo to write things."

It will never be forgotten that Warner made his start via Twenty20, having been held out of the New South Wales Sheffield Shield team long after his talent was apparent. On the advice of Virender Sehwag and the initiative of Greg Chappell, Warner was pushed towards longer form priorities in 2011, and after periods of adaptation and indiscipline is now taking up the lofty perch Sehwag had imagined for him.

"It goes back to that conversation I had with Virender Sehwag. He said to me I'd be a better Test cricketer than shorter format because all the fielders were in close," Warner recalled. "If you're going to take on fast bowling and the best bowling in the world you have to try and score runs and with my game I look to attack first before I'm defending and that's the way I've always played my cricket and that's how I will always play my cricket."

"I do feel respected, and the other thing is they know if they miss their mark that I'm going to start going after them as well. I've still got to be careful and respect the bowler in the conditions that we face. With the conditions that we've had here, the wickets have probably been batter friendly, but I've known my game and trusted my game [so] I can go after the bowlers."

Asked whether he could now consider himself the world's best opening batsman, Warner smiled, but for now allowed modesty to rule his ego. "I'll let you answer that question," he said. "I'm just elated that I'm in good form, I'm probably playing the best cricket I have in my career so far. It's fantastic to feel like you know when you go out there you can take on the world's best as I have so far. It's an amazing feeling but it'll be even better if we win this game."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anubhav-the-Experience on March 5, 2014, 11:18 GMT

    Warner like virender will at the end be criticized...Sehwag was the second best thing to happen to Indian cricket after Dhoni.... Rank1 Dhoni Rank2 Sehwag Rank3 Zaheer Rank4 Sachin Rank5 Kapil Rank6 Gavaskar Rank7 Dravid Rank 8 Kirmani Rank 9 Ganguly Rank 10 Azharuddin

    On another note I feel that Royal Highness..defender of spin bowling...Conqueror of World Cricket...Conqueror of Ranji Cricket...Super Veer chakra(IPL2005) R Sir Jadeja might be above Rank 1

  • irishhawks on March 5, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    As an Indian fan.. i really admire Warner for his guts and competitive attitude..Game needs character like him..He might be short tempered and unorthodox..but definitely entertaining to watch. He is scoring runs in heap now, He is controversial but he has runs to back them up...India needs cricketers like him too..or should i say openers like him..Scoring runs in everypart of the world...

  • SuperSharky on March 5, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    Warner is a GREAT batsmen to watch. For me, he and Chris Gayle is the fastest opening batsmen the past 5 years, with Warner being the more consistent. He is demolishing in frightening to watch. And just like Shane Warne, their off-field controversies inspires them and they thrive on the reactions they create. For their off-field controversies to be labeled right or wrong is for them not the most important thing, but the reaction they get to thrive on is their fuel for high top performances.

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:57 GMT

    so where the heck were you and you coward verbals when SA deserted you twice they visited australia last time. whatever all the 11 australian men had done in past 4 days lets see what you will do in last 2 sessions now. whatever happens australian team remain unchained.

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    De Villiers has seriously gained more respect .Playing at a strike rate of 16.He is doing a wonderful job saving the game.though some may find it boring but it just adds another dimension to this guy's already amazing versatility in batting .Surely the best in the world at the moment. Come on AB do it for ur team do it for Smith.

  • vikram501 on March 5, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    @Samdanh: I couldn't care two hoots if India lose there next 100 matches and all their batsmen fail. Where in my post did I ever mention that? Wonder why you are seeing things man.

  • AllanGavaskar on March 5, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    Thanks Wefinishthis. Yes, create an Indian Dustbowl pitch up north for batting development here in Aus, so that batting in the subcontinent is not so hairy. Perfect practice makes perfect.

    As a second strategy, I'm guessing that there is sufficient similarity between climate/conditions in Hobart and England, so that Bellerive Oval could be developed as as UK style flat pitch that is very conducive to reverse swing and turns prodigiously. If this is not the possible for Bellerive, CricAus should consider trying to create such a pitch elsewhere for Australian batting (and bowling) development.

    This is the sort of planning for the future that will pay dividends much later. Then Cricket Academies will be able to deliver on their promise to a much greater degree.

  • BradmanBestEver on March 5, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    @Tumbarumbar - you are correct.

    Having just a helmet must be a huge advantage for the batsmen today over the batsmen in the distant past. Not to mention the more powerful bats they use today and the fact that pitches were uncovered many moons ago.

    Bradman was clearly the best ever, daylight was second and I would toss a coin about Sobers,Graeme Pollock or Jack Hobbs 3rd best of all time

  • gogoldengreens on March 5, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    Warner highest tally of runs in a three test series played in South Africa - these figures include Sou African players - impressive stat that

  • Wefinishthis on March 5, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    What does this say about NSW's selection policies? If a new game like T20 had not come around giving the Australian selectors a chance to bypass their incompetence and take a punt on a grade cricketer, we'd have never heard of David Warner. How many other players like that are we missing out on? NSW's selectors have persisted with some terrible players, but the truth is that Australia's selectors had been just as bad, causing the dominant era to end when Siddle and Uselesshaus came in to replace McGrath and Clark. Only after sacking them all and bringing Lehman's influence in have they been able to pick some decent test players. Finally we've seen Siddle dropped and now we just need to drop Lyon for O'Keefe. I'd still like to see Marrara Oval in Darwin be set up as an Indian clay minefield and added to the shield roster to help our players in the subcontinent. Then bring in Silk and Kurtis Patterson for Rogers and Doolan and we're in business!

  • Anubhav-the-Experience on March 5, 2014, 11:18 GMT

    Warner like virender will at the end be criticized...Sehwag was the second best thing to happen to Indian cricket after Dhoni.... Rank1 Dhoni Rank2 Sehwag Rank3 Zaheer Rank4 Sachin Rank5 Kapil Rank6 Gavaskar Rank7 Dravid Rank 8 Kirmani Rank 9 Ganguly Rank 10 Azharuddin

    On another note I feel that Royal Highness..defender of spin bowling...Conqueror of World Cricket...Conqueror of Ranji Cricket...Super Veer chakra(IPL2005) R Sir Jadeja might be above Rank 1

  • irishhawks on March 5, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    As an Indian fan.. i really admire Warner for his guts and competitive attitude..Game needs character like him..He might be short tempered and unorthodox..but definitely entertaining to watch. He is scoring runs in heap now, He is controversial but he has runs to back them up...India needs cricketers like him too..or should i say openers like him..Scoring runs in everypart of the world...

  • SuperSharky on March 5, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    Warner is a GREAT batsmen to watch. For me, he and Chris Gayle is the fastest opening batsmen the past 5 years, with Warner being the more consistent. He is demolishing in frightening to watch. And just like Shane Warne, their off-field controversies inspires them and they thrive on the reactions they create. For their off-field controversies to be labeled right or wrong is for them not the most important thing, but the reaction they get to thrive on is their fuel for high top performances.

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:57 GMT

    so where the heck were you and you coward verbals when SA deserted you twice they visited australia last time. whatever all the 11 australian men had done in past 4 days lets see what you will do in last 2 sessions now. whatever happens australian team remain unchained.

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    De Villiers has seriously gained more respect .Playing at a strike rate of 16.He is doing a wonderful job saving the game.though some may find it boring but it just adds another dimension to this guy's already amazing versatility in batting .Surely the best in the world at the moment. Come on AB do it for ur team do it for Smith.

  • vikram501 on March 5, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    @Samdanh: I couldn't care two hoots if India lose there next 100 matches and all their batsmen fail. Where in my post did I ever mention that? Wonder why you are seeing things man.

  • AllanGavaskar on March 5, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    Thanks Wefinishthis. Yes, create an Indian Dustbowl pitch up north for batting development here in Aus, so that batting in the subcontinent is not so hairy. Perfect practice makes perfect.

    As a second strategy, I'm guessing that there is sufficient similarity between climate/conditions in Hobart and England, so that Bellerive Oval could be developed as as UK style flat pitch that is very conducive to reverse swing and turns prodigiously. If this is not the possible for Bellerive, CricAus should consider trying to create such a pitch elsewhere for Australian batting (and bowling) development.

    This is the sort of planning for the future that will pay dividends much later. Then Cricket Academies will be able to deliver on their promise to a much greater degree.

  • BradmanBestEver on March 5, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    @Tumbarumbar - you are correct.

    Having just a helmet must be a huge advantage for the batsmen today over the batsmen in the distant past. Not to mention the more powerful bats they use today and the fact that pitches were uncovered many moons ago.

    Bradman was clearly the best ever, daylight was second and I would toss a coin about Sobers,Graeme Pollock or Jack Hobbs 3rd best of all time

  • gogoldengreens on March 5, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    Warner highest tally of runs in a three test series played in South Africa - these figures include Sou African players - impressive stat that

  • Wefinishthis on March 5, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    What does this say about NSW's selection policies? If a new game like T20 had not come around giving the Australian selectors a chance to bypass their incompetence and take a punt on a grade cricketer, we'd have never heard of David Warner. How many other players like that are we missing out on? NSW's selectors have persisted with some terrible players, but the truth is that Australia's selectors had been just as bad, causing the dominant era to end when Siddle and Uselesshaus came in to replace McGrath and Clark. Only after sacking them all and bringing Lehman's influence in have they been able to pick some decent test players. Finally we've seen Siddle dropped and now we just need to drop Lyon for O'Keefe. I'd still like to see Marrara Oval in Darwin be set up as an Indian clay minefield and added to the shield roster to help our players in the subcontinent. Then bring in Silk and Kurtis Patterson for Rogers and Doolan and we're in business!

  • Tumbarumbar on March 5, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    When we talk about batsmen should we split them into before helmets and after helmets or before modern boundaries and after modern boundaries or even before and after modern bats? What would Bradman's average be under modern conditions - 170? How many runs would Richards have scored, how about Sobers, Gavaskar and G.S. Chappell who seems to get routinely forgotten when we talk about great batsmen. Perhaps there should even be a section for players who faced the West Indies pace attack of 1976 to 1988, after all it is doubtful that their like will ever be seen again, any team that can leave Wayne Damiel sunning himself on the beach on Barbados has pace bowlers that exist in another stratosphere.

  • Samdanh on March 5, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    @vikram501: Lay focus on our India's 5 losses in SA followed by 5 losses in NZ and followed by 2 losses in Asia Cup, across 4 Tests and 11 ODIs. That is 12 losses out of 15 matches (Tests and ODIs).

  • mattp on March 5, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    Warner doesn't thrive on sledges. He thrives on short-pitched bowling. His game plan is to wind up the opposition to get them to bowl him plenty of short pitched balls. If you just bowl at the top of off stump, he gets frustrated/bored and gets out trying to make something happen.

  • Rowayton on March 5, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    dunger.bob, what is wrong with media trained sports people. I, for one, am looking forward to the football season here in Australia so I can hear a thousand players say, "The boys gave 110% and we stuck to the game plan". Warner should obviously be criticised for saying anything interesting.

  • DanielRob on March 5, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    @David Judge: I would like to say something about ur so called statement" Sehwag was more a flat track bully" First, Sehwag's batting avg in Test matches is 50, got 23 Hundreds to his name with a strike rate of 82 throughout his career and also got 2 Triple Hundreds one away and 2nd one at Home (against RSA- Best bowling attack). He has scored Hundreds all around the World, scored his maiden Test ton on debut in SA. He has scored hundreds in Aus, Eng, NZ, SL, Pak, Zim, WI everywhere with his batting technique. Warner is still a long way from Sehwag in terms of run making. Warner cannot play spin, has a terrible record in the subcontinent. He has to score runs in the subcontinent also to be a top class batsman like Sehwag, Clarke, Ricky, Gilly Hussey,S Waugh, & also D Martin each one of them scored runs in the subcontinent & also in India thats why they r respected here & around the world. Warner had no clue facing Jadeja in the last series in India who is not a specialist spinner LoL

  • warnerbasher on March 5, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    A selfless cricketer to boot like Lara. Tendulkar seemed to be a litlle more self absorbed and interested in personal achievement particularly in his later years. Well done Mr Warner and congrats to the admirable Grame Smith for a superb career

  • on March 5, 2014, 1:15 GMT

    Warner sure is in good form. Those back to back centuries were chanceless and so effortless. He was scoring a run a ball but still looked like he playing within himself. He really got the balance well between defense and attack with no real rediculous shots liike he has made in the past. He does have an excellent technique. Way better for example than Sehwag, who he is often compared with. Hence he should be more consistent and able to score runs on a variety of pitches and conditions. Sehway was more a flat track bully.

    I do wish he would talk less off the pitch but that does seem to get him going so I can't see any change.

  • dunger.bob on March 5, 2014, 0:00 GMT

    He's certainly an 'interesting' character young Dave. Seems to like being the focus of derision, why else would he paint targets on himself? .. I think he is honest, almost to a fault, but I'd rather that than some honey mouthed sleaze bag who only ever says what is politically correct. It's refreshing to see someone who actually says what he thinks, especially in this age of 'media trained' sports people who usually just tow the pc line.

  • pak_ki_phu on March 4, 2014, 23:41 GMT

    Swehag was the best indian opener in the mordern Era. he would get under the skin of the opponent and make quick runs. he seem quiet but was the best at what he did "score Runs" his conversation with Warner has probably helped Swehag a ton.

  • CustomKid on March 4, 2014, 22:56 GMT

    Warner 3, SA nil. When he's on he's a one man wrecking ball. SA must be absolutely spewing with the way he has performed in this test post radio gate! What can you say? Absolutely nothing as the guy has just hit two run a ball hundreds that have taken the game away from you. That more than anything hurts the most when you can't bag a guy because he's just put you to the sword and backed up the talk.

    Well played Davey. I'm very proud of the way the Aussies have played this series. I'd have taken a 1-1 drawn series given all the talk of how we were going to be destroyed before the first test and we'd only beaten a useless ENG outfit. If they can do it 2-1 will be a fantastic outcome.

  • Integrity1 on March 4, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    Why is it that readers are continued to be force fed this false notion of Tendulkar being invincible and "God-like"? "Throughout their long and legendary careers, it was a common dictate of bowlers and fielders not to sledge Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara." Both were Allan Donald's bunnies and were at the mercy of a sharp-tongued South African attack. Even the lesser talented, medium paced (at best) Hansie Cronje accounted for Tendulkar 6 times. Andre Nel took Lara's scalp repeated times. When will cricket writers stop being force feeding puppets and start becoming critical thinkers? Kallis, Steve Waugh, Mathew Hayden, Viv Richards, AB de Villiers, Dhoni and Amla are better and more deserving of such praise.

  • vikram501 on March 4, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    @Provenzano: I presume you are talking about the time Australia lost zip-4 in India. Warner scored all of 195 runs in 8 digs then. Johnson did not take a wicket in the one test he played. You seem to have the memory of a hamster. Of course these 2 have improved since then and are in top form, but that is no guarantee that this form will continue forever.

  • Yorker06 on March 4, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    I think Warner can be another Sehwag for Aus with his style of agressive batting. That's why Sehwag was more sucessful than anything in my opinion. People still questioned or complained about Sehwag's techniques, yet he played to his strengh, scoring quick runs. Once Sehwag got started the opossition found it hard to contain him, especially in test cricket. Just look at India's recent test record without Sehwag. Warner is definitely mentally tough and doesn't get rattled by any sledging. Even if he lasts just a session or so, he can put on a lot quick runs to help batsman that follow. Consistency is the only thing that will keep him in the team.

  • Beertjie on March 4, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    Warner has delivered on his initial promise. So, too, much less spectacularly has Steve Smith. Better days in store for Aussie batting.

  • on March 4, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    Look out Davey! You won't stay in a purple patch forever and there will be a time when laying bat on ball becomes an effort... All your taunts on the opposition and the arrogance will come back multifold.... that is the difference between him and legends like Sachin and Lara.. they respected the opposition.

  • on March 4, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    I'm a great fan of Australian Team, love to see them winning again.As far as Warner is the best opening batsman, he needs to perform in subcontinent turning pitches, which the Best opener of all time Matey Hayden did times and times again.

  • Chris_P on March 4, 2014, 19:48 GMT

    @pipsonian . Have to agree with you re: Miandad! Ian Chappell recounts of when he first went to WSC it was the first time they had heard any batsmen sledge the fielders! He also backed up his mouth by walking the talk. Very annoying, but a wonderful batsman to watch.

  • on March 4, 2014, 19:40 GMT

    the great thing about warner is that he scores his runs so quickly so australia can get a score and put themselves in a position to win half way through day four when other teams would still be there trying to build a total

  • pipsonian on March 4, 2014, 19:20 GMT

    Reminds me of Miandad. Bowlers would prefer not to talk to him but he would give them a niggle if they didnt

  • Chris_P on March 4, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    @ Vinith Muralidharan . You never heard of walking the talk? Australia will have serious worries will they? Do yourself a favour & go check up on our first class structure, sunshine, we got plenty coming through, the pendulum is on the way up.

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    the present Aussie team is definately on the way of claiming the no1 spot...This aussie team,I believe will hammer India and Sri lanka at their own dusty, flat, slow, low bouncing pitches, most definately. Johnson has the fire power to bowl out any team under any conditions..If Warner fires for a session or two, then the Test match will be as good as over!!I mean if this bloke is scoring heavily against Morkel, Steyn and Philander, he will absolutely murder Indian or Sri Lankan bowling which is on par with a club side .

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    The conversation with swehag changed warner's career

  • gogoldengreens on March 4, 2014, 18:34 GMT

    @Vinith Australia can cover times that Warner doesnt fire at the top of the order - however the "serious worries" belong with your team and any others playing Australia if Warner does fire as he can take the test match in the opening session as we saw in this game

  • StarveTheLizard on March 4, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Hey Vinith, I think he has the class. Two batsmen far, far better than you and I (Sehwag and Greg Chappell ) claim he has it.

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:32 GMT

    It will look nice when he does well....cricket is a great leveller, we will soon see him struggling and keep his mouth shut

  • Vishnu27 on March 4, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    He may not be everyone's cup of tea, but David Warner has done pretty well so far, Vinith Muralidharan. Let me see Sri Lanka do anything without Sangakkara in the line up

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:27 GMT

    South Africa has serious problems when steyn doesn't fire, absolute stupid comment any team lacking their best player is worst off and quit acting like its only Warner who does it he just doesn't hide

  • DarthKetan on March 4, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    The congregation at the Church of Sehwagology grows....!!! Warner, Dhawan, Tamim etc. are the first of disciples....More to follow!

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:21 GMT

    best in terms of technical ability both attack and defense. Now that's rare.

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:11 GMT

    Yep. Some people like a scrap and Warner thrives on it. Dean Jones once talked about when Allan Border came out to bat vs Victoria every player on the field was dead silent. They did not even clap a good delivery. The same should be the case with Warner.

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    Let me see him do this when his form dips.In the end Form is temporaray class is permanent.Hoping such obnoxiousness luck runs out soon.. Australia have serious worries if Warner doesnt fire top of the order.

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  • on March 4, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    Let me see him do this when his form dips.In the end Form is temporaray class is permanent.Hoping such obnoxiousness luck runs out soon.. Australia have serious worries if Warner doesnt fire top of the order.

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:11 GMT

    Yep. Some people like a scrap and Warner thrives on it. Dean Jones once talked about when Allan Border came out to bat vs Victoria every player on the field was dead silent. They did not even clap a good delivery. The same should be the case with Warner.

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:21 GMT

    best in terms of technical ability both attack and defense. Now that's rare.

  • DarthKetan on March 4, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    The congregation at the Church of Sehwagology grows....!!! Warner, Dhawan, Tamim etc. are the first of disciples....More to follow!

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:27 GMT

    South Africa has serious problems when steyn doesn't fire, absolute stupid comment any team lacking their best player is worst off and quit acting like its only Warner who does it he just doesn't hide

  • Vishnu27 on March 4, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    He may not be everyone's cup of tea, but David Warner has done pretty well so far, Vinith Muralidharan. Let me see Sri Lanka do anything without Sangakkara in the line up

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:32 GMT

    It will look nice when he does well....cricket is a great leveller, we will soon see him struggling and keep his mouth shut

  • StarveTheLizard on March 4, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Hey Vinith, I think he has the class. Two batsmen far, far better than you and I (Sehwag and Greg Chappell ) claim he has it.

  • gogoldengreens on March 4, 2014, 18:34 GMT

    @Vinith Australia can cover times that Warner doesnt fire at the top of the order - however the "serious worries" belong with your team and any others playing Australia if Warner does fire as he can take the test match in the opening session as we saw in this game

  • on March 4, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    The conversation with swehag changed warner's career