DARWIN: Banished opening batsman David Warner said on Saturday he is looking to be part of Australia’s World Cup defence in England next year after his first hit-out at home on Saturday.
The pugnacious Warner smacked 36 runs off 32 balls for the City Cyclones in the Northern Territory Strike League in Darwin as he searches for match practice to gear for his return to top-level cricket early next year.
Warner, 31, was handed a one-year ban from international and state cricket by Cricket Australia for his role in helping to devise a plan to rub sandpaper on the ball during a Test against South Africa in March.
He had pledged to play in the cricket outpost while he was involved in community coaching work earlier this year as part of the terms of his ban, and made good his offer in his side City Cyclones’ comfortable win against Northern Tide in a 50-over fixture.
“I’m pretty good when I’m fresh,” the former Test vice-captain told reporters. “If you look at the last 12 months, I played basically every game [for Australia] and didn’t get a rest.
“I had a five-day turnaround before the first Test in South Africa and I led the team in [the T20 tri-series in Australia and] New Zealand when some of the other guys had a rest. So I know that the breaks do me [good], and you don’t lose form overnight.”
Warner said he would have the opportunity of warm-up games before the World Cup in May-July next year.
“I’ll be putting my hand up as much as I can,” added the 31-year-old, who said during the height of the furore that he did not know if he had an international future. “This [competition in Darwin] is just a little stepping stone to continue my progress to enable myself to keep scoring as many runs as I can for every single team I play for in the next eight months.
“You’ve got plenty of warm-up games before the World Cup, and I’ll be playing the IPL as well leading into that.
“So there’s plenty of cricket and plenty of world-class players to play against, as well to get my preparation on song.”
Warner confirmed his intention to continue at international level once his suspension is completed, and for some time into the future.
“I wouldn’t be here today and working my backside off to keep scoring as many runs as I can for each team that I play for if I didn’t love it — I’d probably retire,” he said. “But I’ve still got plenty of fuel in the tank and I’m excited. I have the next eight months to reflect upon what’s happened and then moving forward to be a better person and a better cricketer.
“I’m just ticking along to make sure I’m preparing well for this and the CPL coming up.”
Warner will play for the St Lucia Stars in next month’s Caribbean Premier League.
Many pundits pointed the blame for the incident in Cape Town at Warner for directing the inexperienced Cameron Bancroft to alter the surface of the ball, in a scandal that also resulted in a 12-month ban for captain Steve Smith.
Warner, however, said he and Bancroft were still on good terms as they worked their way through the suspensions and had socialised together in Darwin.
“He bought me breakfast this morning,” Warner said.“I bought him dinner the other night and we’re good mates.”
Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2018