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David Warner couldn't lay bat on ball in the net sessions leading up to the WACA Test, which makes his dazzling 69-ball century all the more special
January 13, 2012
David Warner entered this Test harbouring doubts about his ability to score runs at the WACA. It doesn't bear thinking about what he might have achieved had he been full of confidence.
To see Warner bat, to watch him dive in the field, to hear him speak candidly about the many weaknesses of the opposition, it is hard to believe he has misgivings about anything. But the sheer joy that he displayed when he launched Vinay Kumar over long-on for six to bring up the fourth-fastest Test hundred of all time, and a century in a session, was telling.
Warner sprinted towards the Lillee-Marsh Stand as if trying for a quick single. He leapt like an Olympic hurdler as he headed in the direction of the dressing rooms, his team-mates and the WACA crowd cheering him on. Eventually, he pulled up his run and completed a more composed bat-raise and helmet-kiss but in no way was this a nonchalant celebration. In no way was it a nonchalant innings.
By the time he walked off the ground with 104 runs to his name from 80 deliveries, he had scored more in this innings alone than he had in all his previous WACA appearances combined - Twenty20s, one-dayers, first-class matches, everything. That record, along with his struggles to get a start since his Hobart hundred against New Zealand, left Warner slightly worried entering this Test.
"I've come to the WACA and put doubts in my mind," Warner said. "I said to Mike Hussey the other day I've batted here a couple of times and I haven't really scored any runs.
"I see that Hobart was a challenging wicket and then we come to Melbourne and you look at the SCG as well and the boys are putting on 600 runs and you missed out, you think in the back of your mind, what did I do wrong? I know I got a good ball against Zaheer in Sydney. That's cricket. But you always put some doubt in your mind, where's your next runs going to be, when are they going to come."
It didn't help that Warner had trouble in the nets during the lead-up to this Test. When his team-mates Mitchell Starc bowled him at training, Warner was ready to throw it in. "I said 'I give up, I can't work in this environment'," Warner said. "I couldn't lay bat on ball.
"It wasn't the pace and bounce, it was more me with my head getting still. JL [batting coach Justin Langer] and Mickey Arthur said to me if you look down the line, the axis of where my head was, I was always falling away and over my front leg. When the ball is coming straight down the wicket, you want to try and put your head in line with the ball. That's what I was working on mainly this week."
His work paid off when India's bowlers struggled following the dismissal of their batsmen for 161. The runs flowed. Warner welcomed Vinay Kumar with a six over long-on off his fourth ball in Test cricket for six, and struck boundaries to all parts of the ground.
Some of the WACA spectators had seen Adam Gilchrist's 57-ball Test ton against England six years ago, and Chris Gayle's 70-ball effort in 2009-10. A few older ones had probably even been at the venue when Roy Fredericks reached triple-figures off 71 balls in 1975-76. This century, a 69-ball effort, was a worthy addition to the list of WACA demolitions.
"I was actually looking at my strike-rate and I said this ain't Test cricket, this is something different," Warner said. "It's just how I approach the game. I show intent, and it came off today.
"I've always said if the ball's in my zone I'm going to go after it. That's what I did ... In my zone is anything that's within the three- to four-metre length. I find that's probably the zone where, if it's full I'll probably throw the kitchen sink at it, especially when it's a green wicket like this and it's a bit lively."
Not that his judgment was always flawless. On 80, he tried to pull an Umesh Yadav bouncer and was struck a fearsome blow in the helmet. Then came a few minutes of attention from the physio Alex Kountouris, some stretching of the neck to ensure he wasn't going to be badly affected, and Warner batted on. He plundered 21 from his next eight balls to race to a century.
"You don't really ever want to go off for anything," Warner said. "The physio said to me if I had a bit of blurred vision it would have been silly to carry on. But I was fine and just a bit shaken up. It's the second time I've been hit here at the WACA. I just think I've got to try and keep my eye on the ball and keep watching it. I'm feeling good now, I've got a nice golf ball at the back of my ear, but that's fine."
The best thing for Warner was that he finished not out. Spectators will be well advised to arrive at the WACA on time on Saturday morning. It could be another eventful session.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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