David Warner has revealed how challenging it was for him when he spent time away from the game after his ban for his role in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, famously christened as 'Sandpapergate'. In an Instagram Live chat with India's white-ball vice-captain, Rohit Sharma, the Aussie opener spoke about his battles when he was banned from even practicing.
"It was challenging, the first-sort of three months, I didn't pick up a cricket bat", he said. "I just said, I will enjoy the time I have with my family, do what I can to sort of keep motivated having it taken away from you and out of your control as you said not being able to practice. It was a time to sit back and enjoy family time, I really enjoyed that as I'm at the moment. We don't get breaks, we don't get to put our hand up and say I want a month off because that's not possible. We try and play all three forms as much as we can.
"I saw there was a tournament happening in Canada and thought it was a good opportunity to go there and play some decent cricket amongst some great players. Lot of the West Indian players were there, Steve came and played. I had that there and the Bangladesh Premier League as well to look forward to. Spending at home and working on my fitness, I stayed on top of my fitness and didn't pick up a cricket bat and I think the longevity has helped me. Having the time off has furthered my career probably by another two years maybe."
Warner though was not too optimistic of the Twenty20 World Cup going ahead in Australia in October. "I think the ICC World Cup may not go ahead by the looks of what's happening here," he said. "Getting everyone into one spot is going to be difficult."
Warner opened up on how it was like playing against India. "A lot of people spoke to me about what's our rivalry like? When you walk on the field, it's completely different. When I walk on the field for Sunrisers [SRH], when you walk on the field for Mumbai [MI], it doesn't matter if you have played with that person for X amount of years, you're playing for that team you're in. It's combat mode, you are competitive, it is passion. I love playing against India in India because everyone is against you but it is the hardest conditions for us. It's like when you guys come over here, it's hard conditions because you are not used to it. So you've almost got this more motivation to succeed."
When Rohit asked him how the transition happened from being in the middle-order on the U19 tour to India to opening the innings, the Aussie explained how it happened: "It was bizarre, I used to come in the middle-order," Warner said. "Sort of in the backend of the innings and then in 2009 Dominic Thornley who played a handful of games for Australia, he was captaining New South Wales. Phil Hughes was opening the batting at the time and we were chasing a small total against Tasmania. I go to the change room and get ready to watch the boys chasing, he said, 'you're opening'. And I was like, 'OK'. So, I went on to open the batting, and me and Hughesy both went to get 100s and I was told the next game I am opening the batting in a T20 game against Shaun Tait. I ended up getting a few runs and it sort of flowed on from there and my bowling did not really progress. All of a sudden I turned into an opening batter and all of a sudden I am walking out to the MCG in front of 90,000 people against South Africa.
"And then in 2006, I was playing you guys, in India. And it was crazy, with the ball spinning so much. Second innings I find it so tough. Obviously, Ash [R Ashwin] has got good control where he goes over the ball. As a batsman, people don't realize you can't see that far down the wicket."
Warner also showered glowing praises on Sunrisers Hyderabad and its management for the trust they placed in him and for reappointing him as captain for this season's tournament.
"In the early days as a franchise owner it’s hard, they have been so successful in what they do," he said. "It’s hard for them to understand how a cricketer goes about their business, about their training, some days we’re going to be waking up sore. How do you transfer that training onto the field? we can't win every game it's not possible to win every game, you might, but they’ve gone so much better over the years, like the last three or four years, minus the year I was out, they have been wonderful. They understand how we exactly go about their business, you always have a question of ‘why’ or ‘what went wrong’, but later in the day they are great family, they are a well-respected family.
"I can’t speak high enough of the chairman and his wife and his daughter they always make you feel welcome and I think that’s the best thing about when you go to a successful franchise is, you feel like you’re a part of the furniture. I know when I was in Delhi (Delhi Daredevils), I really enjoyed under the ownership from GMR, he was a real wonderful guy. Sometimes in the back part of the business, you might get a couple of people who might ruffle the feathers a little bit and cause some animosity between players and you can play only four overseas, so the hardest thing is you if you got a couple of overseas players who believe they should be playing and when you got a team who’s been picked, you should be supporting the team, I know in the past, teams you played in have been like I should’ve been playing. The franchise can pick only four players, it can be very difficult. Having been with Sunrisers, they totally understand everything, I can’t speak highly enough of them as they have treated me and my family well and the respect that I have for them, obviously asking me to be the captain again, I had so much respect to their decision last year because it was right, they just wanted me to play with no pressure with freedom and do what I do the best and I enjoyed that."