Dhaka, 20 Feb, Abnews: David Warner, Australia’s stand-in T20I captain, has deservedly been lavished with praise for guiding his underdog team into the Twenty20 tri-series final but says he is not seeking the role permanently from regular skipper Steven Smith.
Australia came into the tournament ranked No.7 in the world – considerably lower than formidable opponents New Zealand and England – and mired in a worrying limited-overs slump. Fuelled by Warner’s inspirational and inventive captaincy, a rejuvenated Australia has swept through the tri-series with four consecutive victories to suddenly be on the cusp of leapfrogging into the No.1 world ranking.
An Australian victory over New Zealand in the final on Wednesday (February 21) will ensure they become the top ranked team in the world for the first time since T20 rankings were introduced in 2011.
Warner’s leadership in the absence of Smith has been widely acclaimed, fuelling intrigue over whether he could become the team’s regular T20 captain. Many pundits, including former captain and current T20 assistant coach Ricky Ponting, believe it is unsustainable for a captain to lead in all three formats amid the increasingly hectic international calendar.
Warner said the decision would be up to Smith, who admitted after the recent ODI series against England to feeling fatigued after a gruelling summer. “At the end of the day, it’s up to Steve,” Warner told reporters in Auckland on Tuesday (February 20). “If he thinks his workloads are too high and he doesn’t feel like he can do that, I’m sure he’ll put his hand up and step aside.
“We spoke about one of us in the leadership group staying back and leading the (T20) team, and obviously I put my hand up for that,” he added.
Warner said he had enjoyed guiding the new look Australian team comprising a slew of in-form players from the Big Bash League. “It’s been fantastic. A few of us were mentally cooked after the (Ashes) Test series and it’s just great for those guys to go over to South Africa… and inject a lot of younger guys and guys who are in form (into the T20 side),” he said.
A confident Australia are favourites against a New Zealand side unable to find their best form during an inconsistent tri-series. However, they once again face a major challenge at the tiny Eden Park ground, where they memorably chased a world record target of 244 on Friday to down the Black Caps.
Warner admitted the ground’s unique dimensions were an adjustment for Australian players used to bigger grounds back home. “You probably have to have obscure fields,” he said. “You’ve just got to find a way to get one or two wickets in the first six (overs), it’s as simple as that.”
With the pitch tipped to provide some turn, Warner confirmed legspinner Adam Zampa was in the selection mix to partner with left-armer Ashton Agar. “The other day it looked a little bit drier than game day,” he said. “There’s obviously a bit of weather around. We’ll probably get a look at it tonight hopefully, if the weather holds off.” – Cricbuzz