Rather get a duck than score 20: Warner
Listening to David Warner talk about his batting invariably reminds one of Virender Sehwag. Like his Delhi Daredevils teammate, Warner has an unmistakable confidence (“I think it’s very important to either go down the wicket or create room in the crease to hit against the spinners”) and a crystal-clear conviction of courage (“I’d rather get a duck than score 20 and get out”).
India have persisted with Sehwag despite his sub-par form. Likewise, Australia are relieved to have Warner available for the first Test of their 2013 India series, after his recovery from a broken thumb. Both open the batting for their teams and can take the game away singlehandedly.
Besides giving an insight into his cricketing mind, Warner also spoke about his flowering opening partnership with Ed Cowan, paid tribute to Sachin Tendulkar and observed how the IPL has extinguished the animosity among cricketers of different nations, during his free-flowing media interaction ahead of the 2013 Border Gavaskar Trophy.
Opening with Ed
Warner spoke about the growing understanding between him and Cowan and revealed their plan to take more responsibilities in a line-up sans Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.
“The last 12 months have been fantastic for me and Ed as an opening pair. I think we’ve understood each other a lot this summer. We were a little scratchy between the wickets. When it comes to calling between the wickets, you’re trusting each other’s instincts and looking at your partner rather than at the ball. But in hindsight when you look at the runs we’ve put on the board, we’re averaging 45-46 and are the No.1 opening pair in the world right now. So, I think we’re doing a fantastic job.
“I know what stroke Ed plays to get off strike and he knows mine. That’s been the key to our success so far. Also, he knows when to rotate the strike, when I’m going well and vice versa. We know how crucial it is to get runs off the new ball. We also know that 100 for none is not good enough because now we don’t have people like Ponting and Hussey to build up on that score. So we need to set ourselves a big target as partners. 200-250 for no loss will be a very good start. This summer we’ve set ourselves a goal of batting 30 overs between the top-three – me, Ed and Phil Hughes.
The ‘Test’ of IPL
The diminutive left-hand batsman explained how he utilised his time in India during the IPL to polish his skills as a Test batsman
“I think during the IPL I get most of my practice (of batting in Tests) in the nets. We’ve got so much time and there are so many net bowlers. In Twenty20 you back your strengths in the match and don’t really have to go after the ball in the nets. Net batting is all about trying to hit it off the middle of the bat and wait for the ball. And that’s what’s required in Test cricket through the middle period.”
A hitter’s instincts
The flamboyant Aussie opener believes that he is at his best when he doesn’t make a conscious effort to be more ‘solid’ in Tests and lets his bat flow.
“I’d rather get a duck than score 20 and get out. Once you get in, you need to cash in. When I scored that a hundred (119) against South Africa at Adelaide, I felt so good. But as soon as I started to defend, I got into positions from where I was never going to gain anything – caught in the crease, trying way too much to stay solid – and as a result I was hitting it straight to the fielders, nicking on the off. It’s always good to stick to the basics that got you till here and do what gets you the runs. Opening the batting is the best time to bat. It only gets harder as the game goes on.”
To attack or to attack
For Warner the main challenge while facing spinners is whether to attack them walking down the ground or dispatch them while staying on the back foot
“I think it’s very important to either go down to the wicket or create room in the crease to hit against the spinners. If you put them off, you’re in for a good day. With my game, it’s all about being decisive – either go forward or go back. If I’m caught in between, that’s what spells my downfall. So, I think my game’s better when I’m putting the pressure on the bowler. Just respect the good balls and when the ball’s there to be hit, use your feet and capitalise.”
The identical mind twins
When Warner went for batting advice to Virender Sehwag, there wasn’t much give and take, rather only mutual agreement.
“I’ve spoken to him a couple of times, but in the end it comes down to the same things. He says, ‘You’ve got a bat in your hand and you’ve got a person who bowls at you. You can get knocked over and have got fielders to catch you out. You’ve just got to relax out there. When you see the ball, you hit the ball. That’s how easy the game can be.’ If we try and keep it simple, it really is that simple. Cricket is a tough game and you need to keep it as simple as you can.”
Oh Master, my Master!
Many who watched Sachin Tendulkar bat and struggle in recent Tests, said that he was a shadow of himself. But what Warner sees in him is an undying passion for the game and an ‘X-factor’ that will never diminish.
“I think for a guy who has scored 25,000 runs, you can’t really say much besides that he’s a legend. He has his stats and experience behind him, and we’re playing in his home territory. So we know what we can expect from the great man. He’s capable of scoring 100 off a 100 balls. What we saw in Australia was Sachin not being himself and the guys could work him over a little bit. I don’t think a guy of his class will ever lose his X-factor. He just scored a century in the Irani Cup and the mannerisms I saw when the last four wickets of his team (Mumbai) fell told me he still has so much passion for the game. He was disappointed the way they got out. You don’t see guys of his age shake their head in despair too often. He’s going to come hard and show people what he’s made of. He hasn’t anything to prove to anyone. He just wants to prove it to himself that he’s still got it and he can still make runs for India.”