Warner the whirlwind

WHIRLWIND New South Wales batsman Dave Warner will probably fancy his chances of hitting the ball out of Oakes Oval and into downtown Lismore when the Festival of Cricket gets under way on September 22.

The big-hitting Warner yesterday was named in a strong RTA Speed Blitz Blues line-up for Lismore that will be captained by Australian opening batsman Simon Katich and includes fellow Ashes players Stuart Clark and Phil Hughes.

However, stars such as Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Nathan Hauritz and Brett Lee, who are all still on duty with the Australian one-day team in England, have been rested from the tri-series in Lismore, as well as injured wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Those players are all expected to return for NSW's Champions League Twenty20 campaign in India starting on October 8. Warner will also be there.

But first stop is Lismore, and a combination of one-day and Twenty20 games against nearly full-strength teams from Victoria and Tasmania.

For Warner, in what he hopes will be his first full season of first-class cricket for NSW, it's a chance to consolidate his position in the side and prove to selectors he's not just a one-dimensional player in the shorter form of the game.

“My job in cricket is to get as many runs as I can whether it is one-day, Twenty20 or four-day stuff, otherwise I'll get dropped. I want to make the most of my opportunities in these first few games,” Warner said.

“It seems that I have been bracketed as a Twenty20 and a one-day player but that is because I haven't played first-class cricket and shown everyone what I can do.

“If I can put some runs on the board in the longer form of the game that will help me, but so far people have only seen me play one-day and Twenty20 stuff and that's why you get pigeon-holed.”

Warner burst on to the scene earlier this year when he was picked to play for Australia against South Africa in a Twenty20 match at the MCG without any first-class cricket under his belt.

He bludgeoned 89 runs off 43 balls in a memorable knock that included a couple of giant sixes off South African speedsters Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn.

But a series of failures with the bat after that brought him back to earth and he's been working with NSW coaches trying to get a bit of balance into his game.

“They have been trying to impress on me that I don't have to hit every ball for four or six and that in 50-over games the importance of getting off to a real good start and, in the middle period when it gets a bit boring, to be patient and look for ones and twos,” he said.

It won't be Warner's first time in Lismore - he played in a the annual Lismore under-12 cricket carnival in the late 1990s - but he's keen to let local cricket fans know that he will be here to 'entertain'.

“I can't wait to get up there; it will be a good opportunity to have a hit-out against some good State teams,” he said.

“I'm going to try to entertain and go out and try to put my team in the best position to win the game.”

NSW squad: Simon Katich (c), Aaron Bird, Doug Bollinger, Mark Cameron, Stuart Clark, Moises Henriques, Phil Hughes, Ben Rohrer, Steven Smith, Daniel Smith, Dominic Thornely, Burt Cockley, Peter Forrest, Stephen O'Keefe, David Warner.

• The Australian Cricketers' Association has added former NSW and Australian bastman Michael Bevan and former Test fast bowler Craig McDermott to the line-up to play a local Invitational XI at Oakes Oval on Friday, October 2.

The Lismore District Cricket Association will host a function at the Lismore Workers Club the night before the game.

Tickets for the function, which include entry to Oakes Oval the following night, can be purchased from Norm Ryder, phone 66217410.

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