Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne

Warner coming to terms with greater responsibility

Brydon Coverdale in Melbourne

December 24, 2012

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

David Warner cuts over the top, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 4th day, December 17, 2012
David Warner hasn't missed an international match since he made his Test debut © Getty Images
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If Australia's rotation policy was extended to batsmen, David Warner would be the first man rested. Warner made his Test debut on December 1 last year, and hasn't missed an international match since. Not a Test. Not a one-day international. Not a Twenty20. During that time, Australia have played 51 games across all formats, and Warner has been part of all 51. Matthew Wade is second on the list with 45. Mitchell Starc, who will endure a forced rest during the Boxing Day Test, has played less than half. If Warner was a fast bowler, his "fatigue index" would be off the charts.

As it was, Warner struggled towards the end of last summer when the workload of three formats began to take its toll. The intensity and constancy of international cricket caught Warner somewhat by surprise. After a hectic home summer of six Tests and a one-day tri-series, Warner has toured the West Indies, England and Ireland, the UAE and Sri Lanka, as well as fulfilling IPL commitments in India and Champions League duties in South Africa. Players of the past were lucky to visit that many countries in their entire careers.

It wasn't just the on-field activities that left Warner fatigued. He learned quickly that his life away from the game would have to change with his greater cricket responsibilities.

"It's so busy," Warner said of his first year as a Test, ODI and T20 player. "It's about keeping a clear mind and trying to be as fresh as I can. I've had to watch little things like picking the right time to go out and enjoy yourself with your mates or have a beer with the guys. It's important, that stuff, and I probably didn't realise how much actual cricket I was playing and the intensity.

"I was a bit worn down last year. In the 12 one-dayers that we played I didn't score any runs in the first six or seven games. I had to walk away a little bit and just say to myself that I had to clear my mind. I had put a little bit of pressure on myself thinking that you can come out and score runs every game but you can't.

"I came out and scored a hundred in Queensland and a hundred in Adelaide. Here I am almost a year later I have not missed a game. Touch wood I can keep going and keep scoring runs for Australia. I'm feeling better than I was last year. It does become mentally exhausting not being able to see your mates and enjoy yourself at home in the periods like this. But we choose this sport, we love this sport and I love doing it."

Warner's omnipresence in the national side over the past year has made him a leader in the squad, regardless of his relative inexperience. Last summer, he was handed the temporary vice-captaincy of the one-day team and although the leadership was given to Ricky Ponting instead of Warner when Michael Clarke was injured, the coach Mickey Arthur spoke of Warner as the kind of person who could lead Australia in any format in future.

When Ponting retired from all international cricket after the Perth Test against South Africa, Arthur spoke to some of the Test players about needing to step into leadership roles in the absence of Australia's most experienced player. Warner was one of those men.

"I'm playing all three forms so I should be considering myself as a leader," Warner said. "They've had a word to me about trying to be the senior person now and trying to set standards of our Australian way. Whether we're doing a fielding drill or we're batting out the back, just keep in mind that we're training our backsides off and make sure everyone's doing the right thing."

For Warner, that is as much the case when he is at the crease as anything. The opening partnership between Warner and Ed Cowan has developed to the point where they have scored the most runs of any opening pair in Test cricket during the past year. Warner remains the kind of player who can demolish an attack, a trait that the Australian camp does not wish to alter, but he also knows that there are times for patience. Cowan helps him identify those moments.

"Ed's the type of guy, he takes the brains out there in the middle with us," Warner said. "He's the one who keeps me cool. He can identify periods where if I'm going and it's close to lunch, he'll just say to me 'still play your shots but just be mindful that lunch is around the corner'. You need the brains there. He's a guy who's very smart. I reckon he's too smart for cricket.

"He keeps a cool head out there all the time. When he's under pressure he finds a way to block out everything that's around him and just bat. Ed has just shown himself with his character and the strong mind that he has, that he can just block the littlest things out. It's an amazing thing to have him at the other end to help guide you through."

Warner and Cowan first came together on Boxing Day last year, when Cowan debuted as the replacement for the axed Phillip Hughes. In the corresponding match this summer, Hughes will slot in behind them at No.3. As a unit, the trio hopes to settle into a rhythm that can take Australia through next year's tours of India and England and the home Ashes that follows, and Warner said the top-order men would be setting themselves exacting standards.

"The most important thing for us [is] getting through that tough [new-ball] period," he said. "If we can get through to lunch without losing more than one wicket, we think that our job's been done. It's about consolidating and going on with it and trying to get big hundreds. If we're facing 200 balls we should be a hundred. If we can keep meeting our own standards we should be fine."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Jaffa79 on (December 25, 2012, 23:38 GMT)

RednWhiteArmy speaks sense. Aussies have sneered obnoxiously for so many years that when it comes back at them, they can't take it. How can they call anyone arrogant or cocky? They can whinge and bleat about the comments all they like but Aussies just need to accept that they are nowhere near as good as they were 10 or 15 years ago. This current crop tries hard but contain a lot of very average cricketers. Hey Greatest_Game, you didn't mention that England steamrollered Australia 4-0 this year!!! Hahahaha. If England had such a poor year and could still thrash you, what does that say about Australian cricket?

Posted by Mitcher on (December 25, 2012, 21:21 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy: You've hit the nail on the head mate. Aussie fans were arrogant about 15 YEARS of domination. English fans arrogant about not being number one during a year they were whitewashed and won 2/5 series. Really goes to show the expectation levels of the sets of fans.

Posted by mikey76 on (December 25, 2012, 20:14 GMT)

Greatest_Game. Seem to remember SA losing at home to mighty Sri Lanka and get rolled by Aus for a double digit score line. Lets face it SA only beat England because we lost the ability to catch. That trundler Anderson has once again bowled beautifully on dead wickets tailor made for spin and he'll send the woeful Australian batting line up packing this summer.....again. Lets see how South Africa get on in India when they tour next....I can see the Indian top order losing sleep over Robin Peterson. They've even tried to poach a pakistani to get a world class spinner and it failed miserably. Shaggy076. 517-1 and three innings defeats and that wasn't dominating??? You must live in a parallel universe.

Posted by nthuq on (December 25, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

@hhillbumper, of course he's an excellent batsmen for flat pitches. What batsman that scored a second innings century in a game where the innings totals were 150, 136, 226, and 233, and then scored more than the Indians could manage in two goes at Perth wouldn't do well on a pitch that's better behaved than the ones he scored 2 of his centuries on?

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 25, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

He is a great batsman for flat pitches.Kind of an Aussie Sehwag and we all know how well he travels

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 9:44 GMT)

Lol at any pom calling David Warner a walking wicket.... I seem to remember quite a few of Cooks innings ending quite abruptly nicking outside off stump not much of a walking wicket now is he... The only difference warner wont take 5 years to finally break the tag...

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 9:41 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy Erm, I read a post by FFL, I roll my eyes, think "How uninformed and tiresome" and move on if I don't leave a comment pointing out something such as the fact he's been copying-and-pasting the same comment in several articles and basically spamming like a mindless bot. In what way is this inadequate when it comes to 'taking' it? I mean, what's to take even? Sledging requires the tiniest seed of wit, after all..

Posted by inefekt on (December 25, 2012, 9:03 GMT)

Gotta love English sports fans. Twenty years of Ashes humiliations are followed by a couple of victories (in between a five nil drubbing) and all of a sudden they are the greatest team to ever play any sport. Hilarious.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (December 25, 2012, 8:34 GMT)

To all the aussies having a go at FFL just remember, you did this. All that unbeleivable arrogance in the late 90's - 2007, so you see youve brought it on yourselves. You could dish it out, but you sure cant take it.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 25, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

Front-Foot-Lunge: Australians also remember the walking wickets of Cook, Strauss and Bell and the pedestrian bowling from Anderson and Panesar in our 5-0 victory in 2007. Players improve and I know these guys are all now good cricketers. You English fans shouldnt be so cocky, you have beaten us the last two times but the last English series could easily have been drawn if we could mangage another couple of wickets in Cardiff and the last Australian series it was 1-1 after three before we played two shockers. Really both series have been hard fought without the domination that you proclaim. And cant see why the next series wont be the same.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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