David Warner is bound for greatness

Date: November 4, 2014 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
An increasingly familiar scene

An increasingly familiar scene

A little over 18 months ago David Warner’s international career was at the crossroads.

A twitter rant with two leading Australian cricket journalists on the tour of England was closely followed by a late night physical altercation with England batsman Joe Root during the Champions Trophy.

The first outburst resulted in Cricket Australia issuing a $5750 fine while the second saw him docked $11,500 as well as being handed a one-month suspension.

Warner was overlooked for the opening two Tests of that Ashes tour before forcing his way back for the third match at Old Trafford. His three Tests produced just 138 runs at 23.

Those figures still left his immediate future on a knife’s edge.

He was retained for last summer’s opening Ashes Test at the Gabba where he rewarded the selectors with knocks of 49 and 124.

That match proved to be the start of a golden run.

In his last ten Tests he has scored 1305 runs at 67 with six hundreds and five half-centuries.

The opponents through that period were England at home (523 runs at 58) and away against South Africa (543 at 90) and Pakistan (239 at 60).

Heading into this month’s four-Test home series against India he will be one of the first picked.

It is a mighty turnaround for a man who could well have disappeared into the cricketing abyss after last year’s indiscretions and suspension.

In the past 12 months he has displayed a newfound maturity – both on and off the field. Fatherhood, with partner Candice Falzon, may have contributed to his new off-field demeanour.

His on-field turnaround has no doubt been due to a period of serious introspection.

Gone is the showy brashness that characterised much of his early cricket. He still ticks the scoreboard over rapidly but he also now possesses the ability to graft when things get tough, a trait that he largely lacked when he debuted in Test ranks.

It is worth remembering that Warner’s elevation to international level was hardly conventional.

When he was selected for his T20 international debut against South Africa at the MCG in January 2009 he became the first Australian player in 132 years to debut in a national side without having played first-class cricket – he celebrated with a swashbuckling 89 off 43 balls.

Seven weeks later he made his first-class debut for New South Wales.

By the time he was handed his baggy green as Australia’s 424th Test cricketer in December 2011 he had played a mere 11 first-class matches.

Given that paucity of long-form cricket it is not surprising that Warner took a while to find the right tempo – and the requisite technique – to succeed in the rigorous and demanding arena that is Test cricket.

He has shown in the past 12 months that he has developed a game – both mentally and technically – that can succeed at the highest level of the sport.

He has conquered the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander on their home decks and batted with aplomb against Pakistan’s spinners in the current series in the UAE.

Early on in his Test career he was noticeably hesitant against spin and appeared to want to play the vast majority of deliveries off the back-foot.

In recent times he has modified his footwork considerably and now possesses the ability to counter the spinners off the back foot or by confidently dancing down the pitch.

Warner’s first 32 Tests have produced nine centuries and an average of 47.5.

That record closely mirrors Matthew Hayden’s at the same point – nine 100s and an average of 49.2 – keeping in mind that Hayden finished his 103-Test career with 30 tons and an average of 50.7.

Warner turned 28 a week ago and has six or so years of Test cricket still ahead of him.

From time to time there will no doubt be the odd ‘moment of madness’ but we can expect that they will likely become few and far between as he continues to hone his game at Test level.

The current Test is only his 48th first-class match.

Very few Test batsmen can boast so few first-class outings after 32 Test appearances.

With Warner’s continuing maturity the upside looks limitless.

And one thing is for sure, he will continue to be compulsory viewing whenever he is at the crease.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 3 November 2014