David Warner hasn’t had the best of times with the bat of late, but Ricky Ponting backed the struggling Sunrisers Hyderabad captain to find form in what he called “a really comfortable environment” at the Indian Premier League franchise.
Warner scored just one half-century in the recent four-Test series in India, totalling 193 runs at an average of 24.12 as Australia lost 2-1, and started the IPL with an innings of 14 in eight balls in a win over Royal Challengers Bangalore at home on Wednesday.
But Ponting, who has won the IPL as player and coach with Mumbai Indians, felt captaining the team he led to the title last season would change things around for Warner, who finished second in the run-scoring charts to Virat Kohli in the 2016 edition.
“On the back of a slightly disappointing Test series, he’s back at a championship-winning team and he’s captain. I think he loves that responsibility,” said Ponting to cricket.com.au on Sunday (April 9). “And he’s an opening batsman. You’d think the Player of the Tournament is going to be a spinner or an opening batsman. That’s the way the T20 game is right now, so I think Davey will be Player of the Tournament.
“You always like to go into any tournament with a lot of runs under your belt, but to me Davey is the sort of guy that it won’t bother too much. He’s back in a really comfortable environment … and they’ve brought in a couple of really good inclusions player-wise as well. And I think the fact that it’s T20 cricket, against the white ball and on very good pitches that you get in India, I’m sure he’ll have another good tournament.”
Warner hit 90 not out and 48 against Mumbai last season, when Ponting was the team’s coach, and the two-time World Cup-winning Australian captain has also witnessed Warner’s growth as a player from close quarters over the years. He felt that the responsibility of being captain again was going to spur Warner on.
“He’s a strong character … and you need to be very strong in your beliefs (to captain in the IPL),” said Ponting. “You need those Indian players and everyone else to be on the same page and heading in the same direction and I’m pretty sure Davey would have demanded that of his players last year.
“And if he gets more of an opportunity to captain Australia like he has done, I’m sure he’ll do a good job as well. The way he played last year, having coached against him a few times, he was just about the standout performer. Virat was unbelievably good, but Davey wasn’t far behind. And to be fair, the Sunrisers will need him again to play the way he did and lead the way he did. He was very impressive with his captaincy. You could see him on the field that he was very much like Smith. He’s a couple of overs ahead of the game, marshalling his troops really well.
“And you can see that he’s really passionate about it, the energy and the intensity was really coming out of him. That was great to see. It’s great to see these young Aussie guys get a chance to lead their teams and more importantly do well.”
Warner’s next chance to get back among the runs will come against Gujarat Lions on Sunday evening at Hyderabad’s home ground at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.