Warner: Love to score runs off every ball!

"You have to say to yourself that if the team loses an early wicket it is up to you to play the big innings," says Warner.

David Warner is the captain of the Hyderabad Sunrisers and the vice-captain of the Australian cricket team.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

David Warner earned a reputation of being one of the most feared batsmen by the sheer weight of his batting performances at the highest level in all three formats in the last couple of years. And, the 29-year-old Warner seems to be clearly relishing the mantle of vice-captaincy of the Australian team given the way he has been continuing to wield the willow.

But even for someone who is one of the most dreaded batsmen, Warner makes it a point to remind that a lot of players can learn a few things by watching Virat Kohli’s batting of late.

“Virat is definitely aware that he is not a Gayle or an AB (de Villiers). But he has his own conventional style of batting. His range of strokes between cover and mid-wicket are awesome. And look at his consistency, amazing," said Warner, captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Warner reminds us that his priority in a T20 format is to stay at the crease for six to 10 overs. And, they mean a lot — 60 balls. “You have to say to yourself that if the team loses an early wicket it is up to you to play the big innings,” he said.

Reflecting on what has been a highly successful run with the willow in all three formats in the last couple of years, the dashing Australian opener said that he really worked hard to achieve the success rate. “The best way to achieve this was to keep scoring runs. There are many players who play the waiting game with emphasis on stroke selection. But, I love to score runs off every ball. I adapted to this style of batting for long,” he remarked.

Warner says it is a great experience for him to captain Sunrisers which has T20 captains of England (Eoin Morgan) and New Zealand (Kane Williamson). “You get to know so many things about the game because of their vast knowledge,” he said.

“I am enjoying the game and touch wood without any injuries I would love to keep going. When you look at the likes of Hoggy (Brad Hogg), you do get a feeling that those days of cricketers retiring at around 30 are over. These T20 leagues are actually giving one an extended lease in their career besides providing many opportunities for former players to don different roles like TV commentators,” Warner explained.

The Aussie opener remarked that a cricketer’s success depends on how well he extends what he does in the nets into the match out there in the middle. “For instance, if you hit every ball of a spinner in the nets for a six, you can’t do that every time in a match. And, if you work on other aspects like defence and organised stroke-play, you can tend to implement that in the matches out there. This is what I am trying to drill into the players’ thinking cap,” a smiling Warner said.

Questioned on different Australian captains he played under, Warner avoided picking anyone as the best but spoke eloquently about his current captain Steve Smith. “He is a very shrewd cricketer and loves to lead by example. It is wonderful to see him take care of simple things — like going to a player in the coffee lounge and sharing a few thoughts. His ability to galvanise the players into a unit, make each player feel important, reminding about their roles and making them feel comfortable is something really special,” Warner remarked.

Did Warner expect the dramatic transformation of a leg-spinner Smith into a world-class batsman? “Yes, I always believed he is a much better batsman even when he started off as a leggie. I am glad that he did not end up only as a bowler who can also bat. Look at his performances in all formats of the game. A wonderful leader,” the dashing opener said.

On the contentious issue of sledging, Warner prefers it to be called as banter, trying to get into the mind of the batsmen forcing them to think whether they were doing what is expected of them. “Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, one does nudge the line. I am the same person as I was in 2013,” he reminded.

Referring to Mathew Hayden’s comments that Warner would go on to become the greatest opener, a modest Warner was thankful to the former Australian opener’s compliments. “He himself is a legend and set a benchmark for all cricketers with his phenomenal consistency in all formats. And, so it was nice of him to say those words,” he said.