Qantas Tour of NZ 2018
Blisters and demons: Warner's full circle
Stand-in T20 skipper reflects on a hectic summer, and feels confident he can switch comfortably
Louis Cameron at Eden Park, Auckland
22 February 2018, 09:27 AM AEST
David Warner famously made the leap from T20 slogger to world-leading Test opener but the Australian ironically now finds the switch back from red ball to white the hardest.
After leading his side to the trans-Tasman tri-series title in Auckland as stand-in captain, Warner revealed he has blisters on his hands and faced battles with his "inner demon" as he tried to fight his way out of a post-Ashes form slump.
Having struck 441 runs at 63 in Australia's Test series triumph over England, Warner struggled to replicate his good form in the ensuing limited-overs campaigns. He managed just 85 runs at 10.62 across the five ODIs and three T20s on home soil before finding form with a sizzling half-century in Australia's record-breaking run chase at Eden Park on Friday.
Warner has conceded a degree of mental fatigue set in following the high of their Ashes victory and although there's little respite in sight, the 31-year-old was won universal plaudits for his leadership of the T20 team.
Having now played in every single match of Australia's home season, Warner, the busiest of all Australia's jet-setting international stars, was scheduled to fly out in the wee hours of Thursday morning to join the Test squad in South Africa.
But while he'll miss Australia's only warm-up game before their four-Test series kicks off on Thursday week against the Proteas in Durban, Warner explained the shift back to the red ball doesn't worry him as much as the reverse.
"I don't think at all," he said when asked whether the switch from T20 to Tests was a difficult one. "It's more the other way this year.
"I've found it a little bit draining that I wasn't really timing the ball as well as I would have liked with the one-day stuff.
"In my mind I was probably going too hard – I've got blisters on my hands in places where I wouldn't normally get them.
"I reckon I was real tense and really just trying to fight that inner demon to say, 'go hard'.
"And I didn't need to."
When Warner made his stunning entrance to world cricket in 2009 in the shortest format by pasting the likes of Dale Steyn all over the MCG, few believed he'd be able to replicate his success in first-class cricket. At that stage, he hadn't played a single Sheffield Shield match.
He's since blazed a trail to the Test side, of which he is now the vice-captain.
Since the start of 2016, no Australian has played more than Warner's 81 games across all formats (skipper Steve Smith is the next busiest with 75 matches).
Following a brief couple of days to settle into to a new time zone, Warner is confident he can make the transition back to Test mode, adding that he might even perform 12th man duties during Australia's first-class tour match in Benoni.
"To go from here back to Test cricket, I'll fall back into place and I'll get my work in in the nets with 'Hicky' (assistant coach Graeme Hick) and 'Boof' (head coach Darren Lehmann) throwing me throwdowns and running drinks for the boys," he said.
"I can't wait to get over there and I'm actually pumped.
"I'll probably have two days (off) and then get out there in the afternoon, have a weights session and have a run around, get used to the time zone and try to adjust to the climate."
Qantas tour of South Africa
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match v SA Invitational XI, Sahara Park, Benoni, Feb 22-24
First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5
Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3