Australian wickets, age & fatherhood mellow down Warner the batsman

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By Khurram Habib

New Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS) Australia opening batsman David Warner said on Monday he will look to build the innings in the upcoming ODI series against India beginning Friday rather than going back to the aggressive way he batted during the initial days of his career — an approach which he also adopted towards the back-end of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020.

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Warner said his attack from the word go was more a result of the situation SunRisers Hyderabad found themselves in during the T20 tournament held from September 19 to November 10 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“What do you want to see? 100 of 10 overs (laughs). In the one-dayers, I will still come out the way I normally do. There is probably going to be no change to that and to answer why I played the way I did towards the back-end of the IPL was more about the way we had to play that way on those wickets,” Warner said while answering a question from IANS if he would continue playing aggressively like he did in the latter part of the IPL.

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“We couldn’t just build and we had to take on the bowlers in the first six overs with the new ball. Here in Australia, it is a bit different and with 50 overs, you play the normal way you do. (But) I showed that last year when we played against Pakistan and Sri Lanka (in the T20I series), I played pretty much the same way, as I did at the back-end of the IPL,” he added.

The 34-year-old has, over the past couple of years, changed his game. From a batsman, who would attack from the first ball, he is now making a conscious effort to build innings.

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An example of that was the 84-ball 56 he made against India at The Oval at last year’s World Cup in England, an innings which came at a strike rate of just over 66. His slow approach got criticised as Aussies fell short of the target by 36 runs. His last half-century in ODIs, scored against New Zealand earlier this year, also came at a strike rate of 76.

Since he came back to international cricket in mid 2019 following the one-year suspension for his involvement in Sandpaper Gate controversy, he has had a strike rate of 76 and an average 67 in Australia, where he plays the next three ODIs against India.

In the one-year period before he was banned, the left-handed batter had a strike rate of 94.8 in Australia but his average was abysmally low at 14.6, indicating that the aggressive style wasn’t paying off on Australian wickets.

That is probably why he says that Australian wickets demand different style of cricket.

On Indian surfaces, however, he could afford to score at a strike rate of over 100 in ODIs – a 112-ball 128 this year against India was an example.

Apart from that, he attributes the change in batting style to his age.

“It has not been a conscious effort (to be watchful). I have just recently turned 34, so my days are numbered — when you are in 30s. From my side, it is always about getting a good start and taking calculated risks in that sort of middle period in 50-over game. For me, it is about making sure that I am batting as much as I can at a good strike rate as well. Last year was probably the most disciplined I batted at Test match level. I faced a lot of balls in the game, gave myself a lot of time. I really took pride in the last 12-24 months for apply that discipline,” he added.

His career strike rate in Tests too has gone down since February 2017 (starting from the tour of India). He has a strike rate of 60.69 in the period, over 12 runs below his career strike rate of 72.85. In Australia, his strike rate over the last three years — 10 Test matches — has dipped to under 60 while the overall rate in Australia has been 75.61.

“You keep learning as you get older. You are not always going to have that impact. You are always going to think outside the square where things can change. Bowlers find different ways to get you out. You have to be on top of your game to be able to adapt to that.”

The opening batsman further said fatherhood too has played a role in bringing patience. “Can relate that to being a father. Being patient. Not get too aggressive, not get too angry when kids aren’t listening. I am getting tested on and off the field, so it is about being calm and relaxed and trying to sum up the situation you are playing in and making sure you are taking the right risk at the right time and the last 12-24 months I have been doing that very well.”



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