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

Warner thrives on sledges


'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 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

  • irish 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...

  • Sharky 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.

  • Dummy4 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.

  • Dummy4 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.

  • Vikram 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.

  • Sunil 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.

  • Peter 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

  • Karl 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

  • Chris 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!

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