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David Warner has come of age and the world's best bowlers should be concerned

ABC News ABC News 24/10/2016

Maturing, improving ... David Warner. © AAP Image/Paul Miller Maturing, improving ... David Warner. Once pegged as little more than a relentless walloper of cricket balls and pugnacious agitator, David Warner is now revelling in his role as a team leader and big-innings builder.

'Mellowed' is not the right word for the feisty Warner, but family life and the vice-captain's role have given him more of a big-picture approach.

He clearly thinks a great deal about his role in the Australian cricket team and how he can improve its chances of winning by crafting ever-more significant knocks.

Warner sat down with ABC's Andrew Moore to discuss his state of mind heading into a big Australian summer, where he will take on the fearsome quicks of South Africa and Pakistan.

The left-hander, who currently averages 48.63, spoke of his more measured approach to batting and how he hopes that will see him produce even bigger scores than the 253 career high he notched against New Zealand in 2015.

Working hard, loving life

Warner is welcomed home by his daughter Ivy Mae. © AAP Image/Dean Lewins Warner is welcomed home by his daughter Ivy Mae. Warner plays almost wall-to-wall cricket across a 12-month period, which means he appreciates even a few days' break between the recently completed winter campaign in Sri Lanka and South Africa and the upcoming Test series against the Proteas.

By the sounds of it, though, he wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

"The game is quite mentally tough and challenging, especially when things aren't going your way," he said.

"There are no excuses though, we are playing a lot of cricket, scheduling is jam-packed, but at the end of the day I'm playing the game that I love.

"I'm living the dream, I've always wanted to be an Australian cricket player, I'm currently doing that and I thoroughly enjoy it.

"When I come home I enjoy family time with my wife and two beautiful kids, and a game of golf, when I can sneak it in."

Controlling the game from the batting crease

Warner says he has room for improvement when it comes to battling through the tough periods at the crease. © AAP Image/Dave Hunt Warner says he has room for improvement when it comes to battling through the tough periods at the crease. When you're batting well, says Warner, you force the opposing side to rejig its gameplan. But then it's up to you to respond.

"There are periods of play where you do adapt," he said.

"They do change the field quite a bit when you are going, they're trying stop the boundaries flowing.

"It can be quite challenging at times, when you are on a roll and the boundaries stop, you've got to have a reality check to yourself and say 'look, I've got to bide it out, start grinding away'.

"I'm doing the job, but I could be better at it. We're talking about building partnerships."

Being a run glutton while also thinking about your batting partner

Working together is key. © AAP Image/Dave Hunt Working together is key. 'Oh, that's just Davey Warner being Davey Warner' used to be the refrain whenever the opener holed out to a silly shot when it looked like he was right on top of the bowling.

But things have changed in the way he approaches an innings.

"That's the key to the game, it's not just about individuals scoring big runs - you do have to be greedy, you do have to score big runs when you're in - but making sure, when someone gets out at the other end you're building a new partnership with a new player.

"And that means you have to rein it in, and that does come with a bit of patience when you're out there.

"And that's always something you have to keep in the back of your mind, to tell yourself 'you've got plenty of time'.

"I think that sunk in last year against New Zealand at the WACA. When I got my first 200, I sort of went 'OK, I can release the slingshot and hit every ball out of the park'.

"But that comes to the mental side: fatigue sets in, it was a long day and now I look back at that and think if I'm in that scenario again ... work your backside off and make it a big one so the team doesn't have to go back out there and do that job again.

The battle of egos with South Africa's pacemen

Whoever wins the psychological battle between batsman and bowler has a huge advantage. © AAP Image/Dave Hunt Whoever wins the psychological battle between batsman and bowler has a huge advantage. Fast bowlers can be scary as Hell. But Warner says he tries to turn the tables and make them fear him.

"You have to sort of have that presence about you," Warner said.

"You know what they're bringing to the table, in their mind they're going to have an ego about themselves - they're world class bowlers, why wouldn't you?"

"As an opening batsman, with the game that I play, I have to get on the front foot, I can't let them dictate terms.

"I look back at the series we played here against them when we lost, I look back at the series we played in South Africa when we won, I scored runs in both those series. But what did I learn from that? I took the game to them.

"That's when I play my best cricket and that's how I'll have to approach it. You can't go away from your gameplan, otherwise they'll have you for breakfast."

It's hard to change partners

Warner says he knows 'Uzzie' well ... others, not so well. © AAP Image/Dave Hunt Warner says he knows 'Uzzie' well ... others, not so well. Not surprisingly, Warner admits switching between opening partners is not a seamless process.

"If I'm going to be brutally honest, it can be quite a tough task. I know each individual out there. I've played against them, I've batted with the other guys.

"With new guys coming in - if [Cameron] Bancroft gets a run at some stage - I've never played with him. I think I've only played one game against him.

"Someone like Uzzy [Usman Khawaja], I've played cricket many times with him, I know how he works, same as Shaun Marsh.

"But you adapt when you're out there. That takes time. You sit down, talk to the individual, we talk about the game, if there's certain bowlers that they might find trouble in certain areas.

"It's an understanding you have with each individual, and that's the nature of this game. Each player will take that advice on board and that's what we appreciate about each other."

The hefty challenges this summer

Batting is often about making a statement, says Warner. © AAP Image/Dave Hunt Batting is often about making a statement, says Warner. While it would give some men nightmares, Warner relishes the prospect of facing a host of lightning quick bowlers in the months ahead.

"I really enjoy my battle out there with guys like Morne [Morkel], Dale [Steyn], even [Kagiso] Rabada, the first time I faced him.

"Look at Pakistan's attack. Wow. They got four left-arm fast bowlers, all bowling 140s. "These are guys you really want to come up against and make a statement. You really want to knuckle down.

"I've got respect for all these bowlers, but at the end of the day, what are they thinking when they come to bowl to myself?

"How are they trying to get you out? Are they scared of you? It's a tough question, because I want to try and get after as many bowlers as I can."

Credits

Interview: Andrew Moore

Words: Dan Colasimone

Pics: AAP


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