Get the app

Motivated & Run-Hungry Warner Taking Space Alongside Greats

Not long after moving into this caper for a living, an astute new colleague issued me with a piece of advice about composing end of play pieces like this that make the cricket writing world go round. “When in doubt,” they said, “always write about David Warner.”

Adam Collins |June 22, 2019, 2:57 AM IST
Motivated & Run-Hungry Warner Taking Space Alongside Greats

Not long after moving into this caper for a living, an astute new colleague issued me with a piece of advice about composing end of play pieces like this that make the cricket writing world go round. “When in doubt,” they said, “always write about David Warner.”

Of course, the story tonight could have been Usman Khawaja's turning of the corner in those awkward middle overs, or Glenn Maxwell’s joyous cameo and unfortunate demise. Words could be invested in the importance of Marcus Stoinis’ return in balancing Australia’s XI or Nathan Coulter-Nile’s step up with the ball from the last time he turned out against Pakistan.

But that earlier rule of thumb, as ever, stacks up: the endlessly fascinating Warner delivered the most interesting thread en route compiling his 16th ODI century. With it, on that measure, he has drawn level with Adam Gilchrist – Australia’s gold standard when it comes to a modern white-ball opener; truly the man who changed it all. He has reached him in not even half the innings played.

Going back to the start of the day, Warner was once again battling to turn the strike over. In much the same way as in innings from the start of the competition, he was hitting fielders as often as the inside edge of his bat was being located. After 25 balls, he was 13 and scratchy.

Australia's David Warner takes a tumble while batting. (Image: ICC) Australia's David Warner takes a tumble while batting. (Image: ICC)

“I don't mean to go out there and bat slow,” Warner said of his difficulties out of the blocks, adding that he tried to arrange to have a count of all the times that he had picked out fielders inside the circle in this World Cup. “I've hit a lot of fielders, which is sort of got on my nerves a little bit. I got frustrated against India. I got frustrated against Afghanistan.”

But that emotion didn't take over today. Why? The calming influence of Aaron Finch, for one. “He kept telling me to hang in there and bat deep and bat time. That was in like the eighth or ninth over. Because it's generally not my game to stick there. Usually, I try and go after it a little bit come down the wicket or something.” It was in the eighth over that he timed the pants off a push that required no risk at all. In the next over, he pulled a six out of the screws. Warner was away.

As Warner's innings got into the groove and Finch departed, it was he who was now playing the senior role. In the same way that his captain had taken the pressure off him, he did the same for Khawaja who was walking out when many would have preferred the next man in to be Steve Smith. That was certainly the expectation given the left/right-hand combinations that the Australian camp used as justification for previous shuffles in this tournament.

A final job was ahead of Warner and Khawaja in the final 15 overs, once 200 had been made and the base was laid. Could they stick the landing in happy hour? Could Australia do as England and India have shown an aptitude for? They did. Both consistently found and cleared the boundary, adding the bulk of the 131 runs that were smashed through a brutal final ten. Where Warner had made a statement earlier in the day with his willingness to wait, he made another at the end about his ability to still do what he was picked for a decade ago.

“Today was a good hit out for us batters,” he said. “It was a very good wicket, a challenging wicket for bowlers. I felt that we just had to keep going deep. And we were able to do that.”

Twitter/ Cricket World Cup Twitter/ Cricket World Cup

In terms of Warner’s above-shoulders state, he continues to look as happy as can be. For this, he cites the benefits of having spent a year away from the international game – however unexpected and unfortunate the saga proved to be. “I feel a lot fresher,” he said, detailing the rigours of a life on the road with no respite that took a toll on him. “You don't get a year off. You hardly get a couple weeks off. You just let your mind be at ease.”

This last point is a familiar theme from before his ban: doing everything in his power – including a rigorous meditation routine – to free his mind of unhealthy habits. When throwing himself into that lifestyle in 2016 and 2017, Warner said that he wanted to be remembered at the end of his career as the player that anybody could talk to. Now, after all that’s happened since, he wants to leave the sport as “just an Australian cricket player.”

He continued: “To be honest, and that's all I want to be remembered for, is someone who gives 110 percent when I go out in the field and be myself.” Free of the expectations that he has to be anything more than simply that – a cricketer who just makes runs – he has perhaps never been better placed to make the post-sandpaper stanza of his career the most successful yet.

Related stories

Also Watch

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3672 102
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
see more