Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 1st day November 22, 2012

Warner's ADD cricket sets the pace

David Warner's counterattacking innings seized the advantage for Australia on day one in Adelaide, and his team-mates then built fabulously on the platform he had set up

Among the various hackneyed phrases uttered by sportsmen, politicians and businessmen, "setting the tone" is one of the most common. A good win sets the tone for the season, a major funding announcement sets the tone for a government seeking a change in fortunes, and a new advertising campaign sets the tone for a fresh corporate identity. David Warner set the tone for Australia's batsmen on day one of the second Test, and what an uncontrollable, exhilarating tone it was.

This was ADD cricket, a continuous highlights reel. On an Adelaide Oval made somewhat smaller than usual by major reconstruction work, Warner dictated the most cracking pace for Australia to maintain, seemingly unconcerned by the new ball, the loss of early wickets, or even the speculation around his place in the national team that had swirled around Adelaide for the three training days preceding the toss of the coin.

In doing so Warner completely upended a South African attack that had looked briefly like enjoying a productive day with the ball despite the cloudless sky and blameless pitch. He also encouraged the rest of the batsmen to take similarly brazen liberties, an invitation captain Michael Clarke, in the batting form of his or anyone's life, had very little hesitation accepting. Warner was dismissed before the day was even halfway done, but its remainder carried his stamp nonetheless.

Clarke had made a curious comment about Warner on the eve of the match. Occasionally given to hyperbole when speaking in public, Clarke remarked that his opening batsman had "come a long way over the last four or five days". In batting terms, Warner needed to, for his muddled and ineffectual innings in Brisbane had done little to convince observers that a run of nine Test innings with only one score above 50 was about to end. Warner's conflicting roles as Test batsman and Twenty20 poster-boy had impinged on his time off between Tests, as he promoted the Australia Day T20 scheduled for Sydney's Olympic Stadium at a time when Clarke and others kept out of the public gaze.

But the time away seems to have helped Warner clear his head of the jumbled thoughts he had exhibited at the Gabba, and he reasoned with something approaching calm fatalism in Adelaide that his best method was to go on the attack, even if it was an approach not given to the consistency that Clarke has shown over the past brilliant year.

"If the ball is there I'm still going to hit it, because that's my game and that's how I score my runs for the team," Warner had said. "If I show intent and put pressure on them by getting a couple away, then I'm winning the battle. At the end of the day, the way I play, I'm going to be hit-and-miss here and there. I'm trying to learn to be a bit more consistent."

So Warner walked to the middle for the second Test with a more focused approach and the confidence provided by a batting surface expected to reward his penchant for shots square of the wicket. A few early deliveries from Morne Morkel thudded into Warner's pads, though the bounce on offer meant he was never in danger of falling lbw. Having read the pitch and the bowling, Warner would launch into a sequence of drives and forcing strokes through the arc from gully to extra cover.

Australia's dominance was complete; they owed plenty to Warner's earlier dash. His striking had emboldened the rest of his team-mates, while cowing South Africa's bowlers.

Wickets fell - first Ed Cowan, then Rob Quiney and lastly Ricky Ponting - but none of these reverses stopped Warner from chasing runs with abandon. This was never clearer than in the over after Ponting had lost his footing and his stumps to a ball of full length from Jacques Kallis. Morkel pitched short, and Warner hooked, the top edge sailing safely over the fine-leg boundary. In Brisbane, Quiney had executed the stroke almost perfectly but picked out Dale Steyn; here, Warner was beaten but unbowed.

This of course was not the only stroke of luck for Australia. The South Africa bowling quintet was to be reduced to a quartet and then a trio by injuries - first a glute strain to Kallis then a tight hamstring for Steyn. That meant more overs to be bowled by the hapless Imran Tahir, who Warner took to with great relish after lunch. Two sixes, two fours and Warner was saluting the crowd for his third Test century, and the best possible counterpunch after the uncertainty of 3 for 55. The celebration arrived amid a sequence of 10 overs after the interval that were ransacked for no fewer than 99 runs. Warner went from 67 at the break to his century in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it 14 balls.

The influence of Warner's innings was powerful, denting South Africa's bowlers so badly that the runs continued to pile up at a breathless rate for the rest of the day. Clarke danced with the fluency possessed by only the greatest batsmen, while Michael Hussey again proved himself an awesomely destructive No. 6. Clarke crashed Morkel for five boundaries in an over to go to 150, while he went to 200 and Hussey to his century - with a six - off consecutive balls from Tahir.

Despite Hussey's exit to the second new ball when Steyn returned, Australia's dominance was complete; they owed plenty to Warner's earlier dash. His striking had emboldened the rest of his team-mates, while cowing South Africa's bowlers. Warner may be hit and miss, but his ability to set the tone for an innings now seems likely to be cherished by his team-mates and the national selectors for a long time to come.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nicholas on November 23, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    Rather than hide like the rest of the Warner-doubters, here's my answer: with guys like Warner of course you'll get knocks like this every now and again. But, in my opinion, making a significant contribution in only ~20% of innings is not good enough for test cricket. Warner would be one of the first players on my team sheet for the shorter formats. For tests, however, there are better choices like Watson (Sehwag for India) who make significant contributions in over 30% of their test innings. Warner is young and may yet still develop further and become more reliable/consistent... until then, my doubt remains and 1 century against a struggling SA attack on Warner's home soil is not going to make me go back on my previous posts just yet. Kudos though anyways...

  • Mark on November 23, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    It's interesting that the article says he was lucky because of the injuries he got a lot of extra overs from the spinners, but SA would have had to play the spinners that much anyway because they were so far behind the over rate.

    Yes, Kallis bowled some good overs and got the breakthrough, but the way Warner and Clarke were batting, there's nothing to say Kallis would have made a difference.

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2012, 22:53 GMT

    Australia has a glaring problem at 3 and 4. Watson can take 3 but when ponting goes it is going to be tough. I only wish Shaun Marsh focussed on cricket a bit more the guy has way too much talent to be jettisoned to the scrap heap.

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    TheLoneStranger - Quiney was picked because his form playing Sheffield Shield for the last two years and because of the excellent job he did against SA when he played in the Australia A side two weeks before the first test.

  • disco on November 22, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    We appear to be developing an entertainingly diverse team.

  • Dirk on November 22, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    What's better for a left-handed test opening bestman-- an average innings lasting 56 balls or one lasting 102 balls? Alternatively, who do you pick for your team: David Warner or Alastair Cook?

  • Chris on November 22, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    One wonders what on Earth possessed the selectors to pick Rob Quiney ahead of Usman Khawaja in the first place. It isn't as if Khawaja has been a flop as a test batsman and he has a couple of half-centuries to his credit, I believe, as well as several promising starts, only to fall in the twenties. He needs the exposure and deserves it.

  • Andrew on November 22, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    Warner's a champ. I said before this match that IF he racked up a score like Cowan did at the Gabba, his average would end up in the mid-40s. To think people were wanting him dropped for a bloke who now has Test ave of 4.5! I think before Lunch, Warner was brilliant - almost perfect. After lunch I thought he rode his luck a bit - that said, it was due to pushing Smith over the edge into a completely defensive mode. If the Saffas over rate was better (all things being equal) - Warner WOULD of gotten a century in a session! The scary thing is, I think Warner is still on the upward curve. When he finally masters his domain - he'll combine restraint with attack - he'll dominate the Test world. I'd love for him to give the short forms away.

  • Marcio on November 22, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    Great knock Davey! You know your are in for some entertainment when he bats. Good on the selectors too, for picking him out of the blue. A big raspberry to the knockers who want blood as soon as a guy hits a very short rough patch.

  • Dru on November 22, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    I guess this sorts the Warner debate for a while - there can be no better answer to questions about one's spot than a scorching hundred against the best attack in the world. He did a similar thing last summer against India and now has surely done enough to cement his spot and the summer is still very young. Its the strike rate which adds so much to the runs Warner makes - no different to Sewag. There arent too many around who can do it and Warner and Sewag are the only two I can think of.

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