David Warner entered the press conference room several minutes before the scheduled start. He chatted with the journalists in the front row, sharing his knowledge about Aminul Islam, the former Bangladesh captain who resides in Australia, whom he knows by his nickname Bulbul.
Warner is one of several big names in this season’s BPL, here because of his ban from Australian cricket till March this year. The BPL is his third T20 franchise tournament since he picked up the ban after Global T20 Canada and the CPL, while he has also spent time playing grade cricket back home.
“Life has been good for me,” Warner said about his forced break from the international arena. “I have been spending time with the family. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was sitting in the sidelines. It is about getting the best out of myself and growing as a human being. The most important thing was being a father and husband at home. Now it is down to playing cricket again and making sure I get Sylhet Sixers on top of the table.”
Warner said that he has been in good form in Sydney grade cricket, which will help him build towards a comeback in a couple of months when he completes serving the ban.
“I was having a conversation with Waqar [Younis, Sylhet coach] today about playing club cricket in Australia at the moment. The wickets are quite low and slow. It has been tough to adapt to those conditions but I have had a very good run of form at home and having played here in Dhaka and Chattogram before, I know what the wicket is going to be like. So for me it is about getting into a routine and rhythm and making sure I can lead from the front, from the top. So it makes it easy for the guys coming in,” he said.
Leading Sylhet will also be an interesting opportunity for Warner. He is in charge of the likes of Liton Das, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Taskin Ahmed and Afif Hossain, all of whom are regarded as some of the most talented cricketers in Bangladesh, often distracted by off-field factors.
“I am extremely grateful to be leading the side. For me it is about making sure that we as a whole, including the support staff and management, can get the best out of the players. We have to establish our best XI when we get into the park and make sure we do the right things in training. I have to make sure I am doing my job right, which is scoring runs and leading the guys on the park,” he said.
He, however, played down the duel with Steven Smith, who will be on opposite side for Comilla Victorians on Sunday.
“I will just treat it as another game. It is not just taking on one player but taking on a team of eleven players. It is about making sure that our bowlers know how to get Smith out, and then tackle the rest of the guys,” he said.
Warner said that his own form in the BPL could play a part in his return for Australia. “It is up to the selectors whether or not they want to pick me. At the end of the day, all I can do is score runs in this tournament and the IPL, keep putting my hand up and making sure that I am the best person I can be,” he said.
Younis said that he is depending on Warner, apart from overseas fast bowlers Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan and Pat Brown, and legspinners Imran Tahir and Sandeep Lamichhane.
“I think we picked a pretty balanced team. We have all bases covered. We have a good bowling line-up with couple of really good overseas fast bowlers and legspinners. Sandeep Lamichhane and Imran Tahir are both world-class. Warner will lead the team from the front. I have worked with him in the past and we get on really well. Hopefully we will challenge other teams in this tournament and play really well,” he said.