Ashes 2013-14: David Warner’s belligerent impact means he has barely trailed Mitchell Johnson as Australia's most influential performer in the Ashes
The Aussie Angle: His blazing century on Saturday improved his record this series to 457 runs at 91.40.
Sunday 15 December 2013
That dark night when David Warner went walkabout at the Walkabout seems to be a lifetime ago.
Rubbed out of the first two Ashes Test of the northern summer over his untimely swipe at Joe Root in a tacky Birmingham bar, Warner’s career was at the crossroads.
And little he did upon his return to the team suggested he would soon become almost as pivotal a member of the Australian top order as prolific captain Michael Clarke.
How different the Test landscape is now.
Warner’s full-time presence may not have been sufficient to ignite Australia’s campaign in England but his belligerent impact against the new ball means he has barely trailed Mitchell Johnson as the team’s most influential performer in the return bout.
History says that teams craving Ashes success in Australia need the one-two punch of an outstanding fast bowler and an equally effective opening batsman.
Australia have both, which is why they are about to regain the trophy after a six-year hiatus.
Warner’s resurgence has been overshadowed by Johnson’s spectacular revival but it has been little less important.
His blazing century yesterday improved his record this series to 457 runs at 91.40.
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Warner’s scores have been 49 and 124 at The Gabba, 29 and 83 not out when what seemed an inevitable century at Adelaide Oval was stymied by the need for an early declaration, and then 60 and 112 at the Waca.
“It is not that easy out there but I don’t think anyone could play as well as he is at the moment,” said his opening partner Chris Rogers.
“He seems to have an option for every ball, which is an amazing skill to have.
“Batting down the other end you have to wait for bad balls to happen but he can make bad balls happen.”
The volume of runs is just one element of Warner’s impact.
Compiling them with such remorseless and brutal onslaughts has demolished England bowling plans based on discipline and patience while sapping the resolve of the opposition camp.
It is all well and good to probe away at the batsman with a consistent fourth-stump line, but it soon loses its impact should the batsman use the extra room to heave the ball into the crowd at midwicket or repeatedly thrash it through the covers.
Warner oozes hyperactivity with his every breath but he has the tools to back up his brash approach to life and batting.
Left at home while Australia played a one-day series in India last month, Warner used the time to recharge his batteries and recalibrate his batting.
How England would have loved him to have been forced to lug his gear to Ranchi and Cuttack and Nagpur rather than sleep in his own bed and complete his Ashes mission planning and preparation.
Runs came at such a torrent that, in 17 innings in the past two months, he has scored 1,241 runs with six centuries, four halves and only twice failed to reach 20.
Three pre-Ashes tons were in the Ryobi Cup one-day tournament and another in the Sheffield Shield to underline how much time he had spent in the middle by the time he pulled to the fence the first ball he faced in the series.
Warner has been the star but his partner, Rogers, has contributed with sage advice and the ability to temper his colleague’s more aggressive moments.
Rogers has fallen seven times to off-spinner Graeme Swann in the eight consecutive Ashes Tests but it is his success against the new-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad, rather than his failures to Swann, that provide the true value of his contributions.
Rogers has fallen to Anderson just once since the first Test at Trent Bridge and not at all to Broad.
Arthur Morris used to carry a newspaper clipping around that refuted the perception that he was Alec Bedser’s bunny.
The Australian opener may have got out to Bedser 18 times but he also scored eight centuries and averaged 57 against the canny seamer.
“I only get out to him because the other bowlers aren’t good enough to get me out,” Morris used to explain.
Rogers may well consider the same defence the next time someone mentions that he is Swann’s bunny.
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