Warner no shooting star
David Warner has won two Man of the Match awards from his first five Tests, but he still craves greater consistency as Australia's opener in the long format. Warner's 180 at the WACA was easily the standout performance on a pitch that proved difficult for the batsmen, and more than any other player he was responsible for Australia's innings victory.
In Hobart last month, Warner was a controversial selection as Man of the Match as the award was voted for by Channel Nine viewers, despite the fact that Doug Bracewell had bowled New Zealand to a historic victory and was regarded by most experts as clearly the best afield. There was no question about Warner's award on this occasion, although a case could have been mounted for Ben Hilfenhaus, who took eight wickets.
Two centuries from his first five Tests is a promising start, but Warner is also aware that as Test batsman, the gaps between his best and worst cannot be allowed to grow too much. So far in his Test career, Warner has posted scores of 3, 12 not out, 15, 123 not out, 37, 5, 8 and 180.
"I've always said I'd like to be more consistent in all three forms that I'm playing," Warner said. "You might get runs today and miss out in the next game but that's cricket. I'll keep working hard and backing myself. Hopefully this wasn't a one-off thing. It was my second Test hundred. I showed that I can play maturely as well in difficult situations [in Hobart]. Hopefully I can keep continuing with my form."
Warner has come a long way from the man who burst on to the international scene as a Twenty20 specialist with a brutal 89 against South Africa three years ago, before he had even made his first-class debut. By the end of last summer, Warner had played only seven Sheffield Shield matches and found it hard to force his way into the New South Wales line-up.
"The frustration was always there, with New South Wales not giving me an opportunity," he said. "But at the end of the day there were blokes ahead of me and I had to go out and score runs in grade cricket and 2nd XI cricket and make my way into the team.
"The only way to do that was weight of runs. Fortunately I did that and now I'm in a good headspace. I'm really enjoying my cricket at the moment. Being part of the Test team, we're going fantastic at the moment and I couldn't be any happier."
His progression has impressed the Test captain Michael Clarke, who is also one of the selectors who gave Warner a chance in the baggy green. Clarke believes Warner's career should highlight to every young cricketer that Twenty20 is not the only option.
"To see a kid who everybody thought was just a Twenty20 player 12 months ago walk out and bat exactly the same, but wearing the baggy green, playing in his whites ... I've said to Davey for a long time now there's no reason he can't have success in any form of the game, with the amount of talent he's got," Clarke said. "It shows young kids out there today that whether it's Twenty20 cricket, one-day cricket or Test cricket, if you can play one form, you can play all three forms. That's really exciting for the game."
Over the past three Tests, Warner has been partnered at the top of the order by a much more understated opener, Ed Cowan. Their styles complement each other and at the WACA, that paid off as they put on 214 for the first wicket, just the second double-century opening stand for Australia since the end of the Hayden-Langer era.
Warner's 180 and Cowan's 74 were both their best Test scores, the first time since the Trent Bridge Ashes Test of 1989 that both Australian openers had bettered their highest Test scores in the same innings. Warner said working with Cowan was a pleasure.
"I think it's great," he said. "We're gelling together. As people have said, we're an odd couple. But when we're out there, we keep each other going. We're always talking to each other every ball. I know Ed's game, I know where his release shots are to get off strike when difficult periods are happening.
"It's the same with me. When he thinks I'm playing too loose, he'll come down to me and keep a check and say you've got to keep playing straight. I respect that. I'll always listen to my partner. Hopefully we can keep continuing this."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo