• The Investec Ashes 2013

Warner admits to being broken by Ashes axe

Daniel Brettig in London
July 16, 2013
David Warner will head to South Africa to begin the process of earning back a Test place © Getty Images

David Warner's days as a Test opening batsman are done, and perhaps so too those as a serial source of trouble in Australian cricket. Speaking for the first time since the former national coach Mickey Arthur was replaced by Darren Lehmann, Warner admitted his repeated poor behaviour contributed directly to the sacking, and acknowledged that another misstep will mean he is "on the first plane home".

As it is, Warner will not be anywhere near Lord's at the time of the second Test. On Tuesday he will depart for Australia A duty in South Africa, where he will commence his re-education as a middle-order batsman and set his sights on emulating Michael Hussey's energy and adaptability in the position.

For Australia A, Warner will bat at No. 4, marking the first time he has slid down the order since his Test debut against New Zealand in 2011, and preparation for a potential return at No. 6 should he make the requisite number of runs to return later in the Ashes series.

"I've been spoken to about batting six and that's the role I'm looking forward to being part of this team," Warner said in London. "If I get into this team and I bat six, I'll be doing everything I can to fill that Mike Hussey role and come out and have that intent from ball one, because I see that as the acceleration number in the team. His intent that he had over the years he played was magnificent and I feel I can play that role as well.

"You have to sum up the game situation. You could be come in at four or five for nothing or you could be coming in at 400 and it's up to me to try to adapt to that situation, to try to come out and accelerate from there or to try to grind it out like the boys did the other night before stumps."

The frustration Warner felt at falling out of serious contention for the Trent Bridge match due to his suspension from the lead-up games was intense, to the point that he broke down in tears when informing his family he would not be playing in Nottingham.

"As a kid growing up you want to play in the Ashes and after that incident I went back to my room and I was pretty shattered for a week and a half, two weeks. I still feel the guilt of what happened. I feel myself it's led to me being in this situation at the moment. Things would have been different, I would have been able to play those warm-up games and I could have pressed my claims to play in this first Test but that's me. I put my hand up and accepted the consequences and now it's about me putting as many runs on the board these next two games and press forward.

"I rang my mum and dad and told them I wasn't playing. And I kind of broke down on the phone to mum and it's just one of those things you ask your mum and dad what could I have done better in those situations and you don't want to really go into it as much but I've matured a lot since that incident and now it's all about me trying to play cricket again."

Arthur's sacking, arriving so soon after Warner was suspended, provided a reminder of how much his behaviour had affected others. "It was probably another thing that was gutting, that I may have played a part in that," Warner said. "But that's the business we're in and James Sutherland explained the reasons why that happened and that's the thing that we have to do, we're professional athletes, we have to move on from that and now Darren is the coach and we respect him 100%.

"There's a lot of contributing factors to certain things that went on around the team. No-one likes a guy disturbing their preparation and that's what I felt I did, especially with the Champions Trophy. All that stuff came out before that game against New Zealand, I didn't play and then it was about me and not about the team's focus and that was the most disappointing thing I felt came out of that."

Lehmann has described Warner as having a "clean slate" under his leadership, and there are no longer any strict individual boundaries set out for him. Instead senior players, including the pivotal figure of the wicketkeeper and vice-captain Brad Haddin, are entrusted with the task of watching over Warner, by day and by night.

"Darren's just said to go out there and score runs and be myself," Warner said. "Just get that X-factor back that I can have for this team so hopefully I can score some runs. Definitely still enjoy myself off the field. There's no bans, there's no curfews, no nothing. The mistakes, I've learned, I've become more mature, off the field as well. I know if I stuff up again I'm on the first plane home. No-one needs to tell you that because you already know it."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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