Sydney: Troubled test batsman David Warner gave the England players something to read about when they arrived for the Ashes series by plundering a record 197 in the semifinals of Australia's domestic limited-overs competition.
While the England squad was flying into Perth, Western Australia, to start preparations for the five-test Ashes series, Warner notched his third century in four matches to lift his New South Wales province into the final of the Ryobi Cup.
His 197 came from 141 balls on Thursday and included 20 boundaries and 10 sixes before he was caught deep in the outfield trying to reach a double century — the first in the 45-year history of Australia's domestic limited-overs competition.
Warner, who was dropped for two tests in the last Ashes series and more recently cut from Australia's squad for the ongoing ODI tour to India because he was out of form, has scored 527 runs at an average of 75 in the domestic tournament.
"For me it is about being at the crease with a clear mind, backing myself and realizing that is what is working," Warner said.
As for narrowly missing a double-century, Warner said he was more concerned about New South Wales chasing down the winning runs against Victoria to seal a place in Sunday's final against Queensland.
"It is a team game and we had to try and reach the total and we did that which is all that matters," he said. "You never want to be the person that milks it for milestones."
In recent weeks, Warner admitted he's been a "pest in the past" but said he's taken some advice from former test captain Mark Taylor in an effort to turn his career around.
The Australian batsman was given a one-match suspended ban for failing to show up for the second day of a Sydney grade game as directed earlier in the month. He said his absence was due to a "misunderstanding."
He was also fined for a Twitter rant against a cricket writer in May before an altercation with England opener Joe Root in a Birmingham pub in June cost him his place in the Champions Trophy squad and two Ashes test matches. England completed its third consecutive Ashes series win in August, and comes to Australia high on confidence ahead of the first test starting Nov. 21 in Brisbane.
"Always confident," England spinner Graeme Swann was quoted as saying after the squad touched down in Perth early Friday. "If we play our good cricket, then it should be a great series.
"Can't wait to get cracking ... It doesn't seem like two minutes since we finished, so everyone's fresh and ready."
Warner said Taylor helped remind him that his actions off the field can leave an indelible mark and have a big impact on his cricket legacy.
He is determined to hold onto his slot at the top of the Australian batting order and has started to show the kind of form that will convince selectors to give him another chance.
Australia captain Michael Clarke is also skipping the ODI series in India to rest his injured back, and is making good progress toward a return for the Ashes series opener.
Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris on Thursday said Clarke had recently started batting in the nets and could be ready New South Wales' first-class opener on Oct. 30.
"At this stage we are aiming to have him fit to play the second round of the Sheffield Shield, but we have not ruled out the possibility of him playing the first round of the Shield season if he makes better than expected progress," he said.
England will play a tour match against a Western Australia XI starting Thursday, a four-day match against Australia A in Hobart starting Nov. 6 and a four-day match in Sydney ahead of the Ashes series.