Test opener David Warner has brazenly issued a challenge to South Africa's much-feted fast bowling trio, inviting them to take him on verbally as well as with the ball in Friday's first Test at the Gabba.
''I heard someone said that they were talking about getting into my ego or something during the week,'' Warner said in Brisbane. ''If they want to start talking out there and give me a bit of banter, then I'm all for it. I know what to expect and I reckon I've got the game plan to counteract that.''
You don't play like Warner does without a healthy dose of self-confidence and he enters a second home Test summer believing he is equipped to deal with whatever Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel direct his way.
He has never faced them before in a Test but is no rookie at squaring off against the Proteas' pace triumvirate.
He notably gave Steyn a shellacking in a one-day international at the SCG in 2009, is teammates with Morkel at Delhi Daredevils and took on Philander during last year's Australia A tour of Zimbabwe.
Steyn, in particular, is renowned for his aggression but Warner said he would not be intimidated: ''When you're in the heat of the battle, you know bowlers get frustrated and some of them try to intimidate you with a few words and a couple of bouncers and this and that. At the end of the day, if you're smart and you're switched on, you know how to counteract that. I'm in the right frame of mind at the moment.
''Every time I've played against Dale he's never said a word to me. It will be good if he starts coming down and giving a bit of banter. I enjoy that.''
South Africa coach Gary Kirsten intimated on Tuesday (local time) that Steyn was well aware of a remark made the previous day by Australia coach Mickey Arthur that the world No.1 quick did not bowl well against left-handers. ''Put it this way,'' Kirsten said. ''We'll use it as good motivation.''
After making his debut a year ago at the Gabba, Warner, 26, made two Test hundreds in his maiden home campaign. They were of strikingly contrasting quality: a brave, carefully compiled 123 in Hobart in which he carried his bat, almost pulling off a remarkable victory against New Zealand; and an all-guns-blazing 180 in Perth that showed no mercy to hapless India's bowlers.
As he has outlined since he broke into the Test side, the key once again will be in what he leaves as much as what he hits. The stringbean tall Morkel will like the look of Australia's top-three, having enjoyed great success against left-handers, but Warner plans to approach him without complication.
''Basically [I'll] just do what I normally do. See the ball and hit the ball,'' he said. ''If it's in the good area and I don't need to play it, I won't play it. I know consistently [Morkel] gets that length where the ball is not going to hit the stumps, he's not going to get an lbw from that angle either. I'm looking forward to him going around the wicket and trying to get me out.''
- Sydney Morning Herald
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