David Warner bats in the nets at the Gabba. Photo: Getty Images
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 on Tuesday. ''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 fully equipped to deal with whatever Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel direct his way.
He has never faced them before in Tests 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, not exactly a shrinking violet himself, said he would not be intimidated: ''No, definitely not. 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 … 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 that Steyn was well aware of a remark made the previous day by his Australia counterpart, 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 held 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, he believes, once again will be in what he leaves as much as what he hits. The string-bean tall Morkel will like the look of Australia's top three, having enjoyed great success against left-handers but Warner aims 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 stump, 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.''
Warner has adopted a much more professional approach to his game off the field, and hopes he will be repaid for the sacrifices with another fruitful summer.
''Three or four years ago, I'd probably go out with a couple of mates and enjoy myself, but now you can't because we're playing full-time and I want to make the most out of my career.
''I don't want to let that ruin me or my reputation at all. I had to change and I did and I'm on the right line at the moment. I've surrounded myself with some good people now and really enjoying playing my cricket and making my family proud.''