MELBOURNE - Australia's chirpy opening batsman David Warner has described his team's mental battles with opponents as banter, not sledging, and says he has no plans to curb the exchanges despite things getting lost in translation occasionally. Australia are renowned for their chatter in the middle, which has often put the team in hot water.
Captain Michael Clarke's menacing warning to England bowler James Anderson to "get ready for a broken ... arm" during the Ashes series cost him part of his match fee but won him more than a few admirers among the Australian public. The recent death of Australia batsman Phillip Hughes prompted calls by pundits for cricketers to be more civil to each other out in the field of battle.
And for three days of the series-opening test in Adelaide between Australia and India, it appeared the calls had been heeded. Then Warner, as so often before, managed to get under his opponents' skin. Warner was given an almighty send-off when bowled by paceman Varun Aaron on day four but had the last laugh when the wicket was disallowed after a television replay showed the bowler had overstepped the crease on his delivery.
Warner would score two centuries for the match. Since then, it has been 'game on' and Warner said on Wednesday more of the same could be expected during the third test in Melbourne with the hosts carrying a 2-0 lead in the four-match series. "If it requires a little bit of banter to get the other person talking, that's what is going to happen," Warner told reporters.
"Some players, they don't say anything at all, but then when they do, you know you've gotten into them and they're actually listening to you. You know you're in their head. I like to go at them, to try and get them to bite back at me when I go out there and bat. At the moment it's working."
Warner was sledger-in-chief during the Ashes series -- even off the field when assessing the struggles of England batsman Jonathan Trott. India has proved a bit of a challenge, though. "It's quite tough with nations that speak different languages," Warner said. "The aim for us it's not really sledging, it's more banter."
India sledging 'backfired' in Brisbane, says Hazlewood: India's attempts to get under Australia's skin in the second test "backfired" on the way to defeat at the Gabba, according to paceman Josh Hazlewood. Australia head into the third test starting in Melbourne on Friday with a 2-0 lead in the four-match series and looking to seal victory.
Hazlewood's team mate and fellow seamer Mitchell Johnson came in for some sledging by India's fielders in Brisbane but spanked an important 88 from 93 balls in Australia's second innings before setting up victory with a four-wicket haul. "It backfired at the Gabba with them trying to get stuck into us and Mitch fired back," Hazlewood told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.
"It was good to see him pick up some wickets in the second innings and really fire up and bowl fast. It's a good spot to be in at 2-0 at this time of the year. If we can crack them right open (at the MCG) early we can drive the game forward towards 3-0." Hazlewood, the latest young talent to come off Australia's fast bowler production line, enjoyed a fine test debut, taking five wickets in the first innings for a seven-wicket match overall at the Gabba. He is set to be retained in a three-pronged pace attack along with fit-again Ryan Harris and Johnson for Melbourne's traditional 'Boxing Day' test.
If called on to bowl first, the trio will hope to do damage early on the Melbourne Cricket Ground's drop-in wicket as it usually tests batsmen in the first session before flattening out. "This one will be different again, but it's always our goal to take 20 wickets," Hazlewood said. "They're a class batting line-up, but whether they get starts or not we're looking to keep bowling well to them all the time, keeping them tied down, and looking to take wickets throughout the day."