David Warner has earmarked winning the 2024 T20 World Cup in the Americas as the ideal swansong to his international career as he sets his sights on helping propel Sydney Thunder back into top spot during the second half of the KFC BBL|12 season.
Warner will re-launch his Big Bash career against the Perth Scorchers at Sydney Showground Stadium on Friday night as he makes his first appearance in the competition in nine years.
Australia’s superstar all-format opener signed a two-year deal with the Thunder in August to return to the tournament for the first time since December 2013.
Although his availability next summer may be limited due to a three-Test series against Pakistan in December-January and two-Tests against the West Indies in January 2024.
He is one of five Australia Test stars set to return to the Big Bash over the weekend, joining Adelaide Strikers duo Travis Head and Alex Carey who will play against the Brisbane Heat on Saturday night and Sydney Sixers pair Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon who will also make their first appearances of the season against the Scorchers on Sunday night.
It was a tough BBL return for Heat trio Usman Khawaja (28 off 23 balls), Marnus Labuschagne (10 off 9 and 0-20 from one over) and Matthew Renshaw (27 off 21) as they were soundly beaten by reigning champions the Scorchers at the Gabba last night.
“I didn’t actually see much of last night, I saw the strike rates though,” Warner quipped to reporters this afternoon.
“Hopefully I can improve on those strike rates … but it looked a little bit of a tricky surface so those guys will bounce back.”
The 36-year-old said his goal for his five-game stint in BBL|12 was to put in some good performances to help get the team to the top of the ladder.
“We’re fourth at the moment, so the guys have been playing well. We’ve had some injuries and if I can contribute in any way, it’d be awesome,” he said.
“It’s going to be a tough game, obviously the Scorchers are a well-equipped team, they’ve had some great success with four titles.”
Warner’s international future has been a hot topic this summer, and he again flagged the next 12 months could be his last for Australia.
“I’ve signed (with the Thunder) for this year and next year, and it’s my time to contribute and give back,” Warner said.
“I’ve got that time to do that now … (this will) most likely be my last year of my international career.
“I’ve got my sights set on the 2024 (T20) World Cup as well, so finishing in the Americas, that’d be nice to top it off with a win over there, pending selection.”
Meanwhile, Smith said he hadn’t given much thought to his T20 international future after playing just one game during Australia’s home World Cup campaign last year after being squeezed out of the side by Hurricanes power-hitter Tim David.
“There’s not a great deal of T20 internationals, so for me, Test and one-day cricket are the huge priorities with what’s coming up and then we’ll wait and see,” Smith told reporters on Thursday.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead … (but) I’m certainly excited to be back here with the Sixers.
“I really love playing with these guys, I’ve been involved with the Sixers since the first Big Bash so it’s great to be back with a lot of familiar faces.”
The 33-year-old said he was likely to replace English import James Vince in the Sixers’ top three who has left the competition for a stint in the UAE’s International League T20 tournament.
Smith said it wasn’t always easy for him to find his T20 rhythm straight away after a long period facing the red ball during the Test summer.
“It’s just about trying to go through the gears and have a few hits in the nets to hopefully get some rhythm in the white-ball format,” he said.
“For me particularly, it’s just about not rushing things, not trying to pre-empt too much and just have a still head, still base, and hit the ball where it’s supposed to be hit.
“It’s just playing and enjoying myself and helping the Sixers have continued success. We’ve got a lot of history we’ve done really well every year so hopefully it’s no different this year.”
Thunder squad v Scorchers: Ben Cutting, Joel Davies, Oliver Davies, Brendan Doggett, Matthew Gilkes, Chris Green (c), Baxter Holt, Blake Nikitaras, Nathan McAndrew, Ross Pawson, Usman Qadir (Pakistan), Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, David Warner, Sam Whiteman
Scorchers squad v Thunder and Sixers: Ashton Turner (c), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Cooper Connolly, Stephen Eskinazi (England), David Payne (England), Aaron Hardie, Peter Hatzoglou, Nick Hobson, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kelly, Lance Morris, Andrew Tye