SA v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 4th day March 4, 2014

Warner, Johnson at peak of powers

Australia's success against England and South Africa is down to the arresting form of their most talented players - David Warner and Mitchell Johnson
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In examining Australia's resurgence against England and South Africa, many possible catalysts can be tossed up for consideration. The arrival of Darren Lehmann as coach stands as one signal moment, and the collective hunger for success that had built up in Australian cricket over some years lurching between mediocrity and ineptitude offers another explanation. So too does the fact that in Australia and South Africa, Michael Clarke's team have largely found fertile conditions for their preferred approach to the game, favouring velocity with the ball, initiative with the bat and high energy in the field.

Yet the most fundamental marker of the team's success can be found in contrasting personal narratives for a handful of cricketers in each of the three countries. Australia's two most outsized talents, David Warner and Mitchell Johnson, are at a peak of fitness, motivation, skill and mentality that has allowed Clarke to unleash them at their very best. In contrast, England and South Africa have grappled with the reality of pivotal figures beyond their peak as players, leaders or team-men, time and tide having caught up with them.

It is quite a list, of those senior men reaching a moment of personal crisis or retirement realisation when confronted by Clarke's team. Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen and now Graeme Smith have all passed from Test match view across these two series. Andy Flower, England's erstwhile team director, also slid from his role in that time. Australia, grown increasingly bold in their outlook as they witnessed the feats of Johnson and Warner, have meanwhile remained happily settled, all team members equally focused on the task at hand and not feeling any need to think beyond it.

This is not to say that Australia's show of strength has been the deciding factor in any of the decisions made. In Smith's case it was just one of many, from a young family with roots in two nations and a career now 12 years old, to the labyrinthine politics and distractions of leading a cricket nation of such diversity. Trott was overwhelmed by stress and dark thoughts he had largely been able to manage over his time in an England cap, Swann felt the increasing effects of a chronic elbow problem, Pietersen exhausted his state of d├ętente with team management, and Kallis recognised the dulling of his reflexes even before battle was joined, leaving an enormous hole in his team.

Yet the sight of a hungry horde rushing headlong into one's path has the tendency to crystallise any encroaching desire for the quiet life. It has been Johnson and Warner leading that charge for Australia, playing a kind of muscular, intimidating cricket that is thrilling to watch and disheartening for an opponent unable to summon the resources to match it. On day four at Newlands, both men offered up passages of their most brazen play, no doubt providing Smith with a certain reassurance that he had made the right decision - so swift and sure were Warner and Johnson that only the most alert and committed of combatants could be expected to hold them.

Warner's finest batting of this match and series had already been and gone when he walked out to bat in the morning, his first-innings hundred the best and most complete since he compiled a first, against New Zealand on a seaming Bellerive Oval wicket in 2011. But the disdain he exhibited in crashing the hosts to all parts of a ground they had been accustomed to dominate on was still breathtaking. Among the most compelling qualities Warner can offer a team is the confidence he inspires in other batsmen. Morne Morkel has been terrifying at times in this series, but his treatment by Warner has made every other batsman think him a little more mortal.

For Smith, setting a plan to claim Warner's wicket has been perhaps the most maddening on-field exercise of his entire captaincy. The more Warner has matured, the more adept he has become at manipulating a field and a bowler to his advantage. Morkel is often criticised for dropping too short - against Warner the bouncer has often seemed his only option to prevent a boundary or a single. Similarly Smith has not been able to win through either attack or defence. The lopsided battle between captain and batsman reached its climax when Smith sent all nine fielders to the Newlands fence, only to watch Warner squirt a boundary fine of third man.

The only time Warner did not crash through Smith's fields was when JP Duminy pursued a line wide of the stumps into the footmarks with his part-time spin. This seemed more a matter of Warner stubbornly unprepared to fall for such a stratagem than a sudden aversion to scoring; after lunch normal service resumed, and the opener's familiar leap toasted his second century of the match. Instances of batsmen cracking more than 500 runs in a three-Test series are few. To do the trick in this series, on foreign territory, is an achievement Warner may never quite top.

Johnson has of course had a previous peak on South African shores, his 2009 series the ideal he was striving to return to when taking an extended break from the game in 2011-12. On both occasions his furious speed has been allied to accuracy, leaving batsmen with nothing loose on which to feed, and nowhere to hide. His command over Smith in this series has been near total, and it was fitting that the captain's final innings ended with a short ball, a fend and a catch at short leg - grateful no doubt to have avoided another broken hand from a Johnson bullet. Dean Elgar was then no match for a facsimile of the ball that castled Alastair Cook in Adelaide, pace and just enough movement to beat a groping blade before dismantling the stumps.

At 32, Johnson is older than many fast bowlers at their peak. But as Michael Holding has previously observed, the earlier break from the game and a wayward career before it leaves Johnson fresher than he might otherwise have been, and the better to accompany Warner on further ransackings of international opposition. Pondering how he and Johnson had met England and South Africa at an opportune moment, Warner recognised now was their time, a fruitful phase that will eventually meet its end.

"It's always handy when someone bowls 150kph, but I just think where we're both at in our stage of our careers, we don't go out there and think these guys are going to retire," he said. "Whether it was form that might have brought that down with Graeme Swann or Graeme Smith, we'll never know, all we can do is keep playing to the best of our ability. It's going to happen in time as well, India with Dravid and Laxman retired as well. We're coming to the age where the older guys are starting to push on a little bit and look for other careers after cricket."

Australia have numerous key components far nearer to the end than the beginning; Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris and Chris Rogers to name three. Yet Warner and Johnson were both followed up on day four by cameos from others who can ensure a continuity of success from one generation to the next. Steven Smith's impish talent took him to 36 runs from 20 balls as the declaration ticked near, before James Pattinson's pace and reverse swing accounted for Hashim Amla in lengthening evening shadows. For Johnson and Warner the moment is now, but there is enough around them to suggest the sun can shine on Australia's cricketers for some time yet.

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

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  • on March 4, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    A champion team will always beat a team of champions, and although not there yet, Australia is well on the way to becoming a champion team. Retirements are certain in the next year or two but there is no shortage of potential replacements in the wings. Doolan has shown enough to assure that he will grow into the role. As Harris, and even Johnson, start to feel the pinch as the years roll by, there are Starc, Bird, Cummins and others to help Patto carry the load. Paine and Wade are ready to step in for Haddin. Hughes is still waiting in the wings. Bailey will have a second coming, mark my words. Faulkner is a ready-made replacement for Watson. Maxwell will fit in nicely as his temperament improves. Then there are the youngsters being groomed, like Maddinson, Silk,and Hazelwood. Warner, Silk, Doolan, Smith, Bailey, Maxwell, Faulkner, Paine, Patto, Starc, Cummins and Lyon may well be regular names in a few years from now. The future looks rosy for Australia.

  • 1_234 on March 5, 2014, 11:46 GMT

    He should be tested first with spin bowling before declaring him a great.

  • Protears on March 5, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    @Rich000 I don't think we should dampen the 78 legacy, the team that would have conquered the cricket world but for exile, a generation lost so maybe its a good thing not to tarnish that.

    Anywho there is still a test to win or draw here. Brigadier Block at the station.

  • rich000 on March 5, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    @ Protears......Yes we were mauled by India in India just like we mauled India at Home.Did you enjoy the Ashes series just finished in Australia.Just in case you missed the scoreline 5-0 to Australia.For you i would be more concerned about actually winning a series against Australia in South Africa.How long has it been.I cannot remember either

  • liz1558 on March 5, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    Some impressive shock and awe/blitzkrieg cricket from Johnson and Warner. Both men have been seriously maligned publically - Johnson with the tendency to bowl to the left and right, and Warner with all his 'despicable' behavior- and current form is partly a reaction to that. It will be interesting to see if their motivation goes beyond point-proving.

  • Protears on March 5, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @Rich000 like the snide remarks, and congratulations as I said earlier Australia played the better team cricket this series.

    Mitch is on form, Steyn came into the series with rib injuries and ended with a hamstring strain Managed to get 13-14 wickets never being fit. I guess you can say that Mitch is the better bowler being at similar career points one is measured with greats the other is a "what if" story. Morne has close to 200 career wickets but needs to perhaps go play in Australia to adapt his game. Vern has 120 wickets in 23 tests, that is being out of his league, to go with a batting average close to Duminy's but yeah he is out of his depth.

    I really honestly hope the Aussie bubble doesn't burst for your sake, it would be a travesty to watch the Mauling in India all over again or the past Ashes hidings, lets hope they can play well forever.

  • dunger.bob on March 5, 2014, 8:32 GMT

    @ Jason Bray: I've got a very tentative theory that Australian players are maturing later and playing longer than they used to. I think these days 32 is the new 28.

  • dunger.bob on March 5, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    @ Chris_Howard: Fair enough, but you can only play what's in front of you. It's not our fault Dale is struggling and you can't blame us for taking advantage of it either. These things happen. Having said that, I think I know what you mean. .. Still, I'll take it if we get it.

  • dunger.bob on March 5, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    @ HarrowXI: The very last line of your post has some very dark and serious under-tones. I'm scared. Really, really scared. I've got no doubt all our bowlers will be just as scared about that prospect as I am.

  • rich000 on March 5, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    @Protears.....a box of tissues heading your way.Morne such as great bowler.Has he got any wickets in the series.....you should be competitive against Windies, NZ and Sri Lanka .A tough call for who will win though.Phillander is certainly out of his league here.Would get a game for D Grade maybe.Johnson has outperformed Steyne so you are lucky that you were not facing Ahktar.Now that would have been a bloodbath....get over yourself and face facts that you were outplayed.....

  • on March 4, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    A champion team will always beat a team of champions, and although not there yet, Australia is well on the way to becoming a champion team. Retirements are certain in the next year or two but there is no shortage of potential replacements in the wings. Doolan has shown enough to assure that he will grow into the role. As Harris, and even Johnson, start to feel the pinch as the years roll by, there are Starc, Bird, Cummins and others to help Patto carry the load. Paine and Wade are ready to step in for Haddin. Hughes is still waiting in the wings. Bailey will have a second coming, mark my words. Faulkner is a ready-made replacement for Watson. Maxwell will fit in nicely as his temperament improves. Then there are the youngsters being groomed, like Maddinson, Silk,and Hazelwood. Warner, Silk, Doolan, Smith, Bailey, Maxwell, Faulkner, Paine, Patto, Starc, Cummins and Lyon may well be regular names in a few years from now. The future looks rosy for Australia.

  • 1_234 on March 5, 2014, 11:46 GMT

    He should be tested first with spin bowling before declaring him a great.

  • Protears on March 5, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    @Rich000 I don't think we should dampen the 78 legacy, the team that would have conquered the cricket world but for exile, a generation lost so maybe its a good thing not to tarnish that.

    Anywho there is still a test to win or draw here. Brigadier Block at the station.

  • rich000 on March 5, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    @ Protears......Yes we were mauled by India in India just like we mauled India at Home.Did you enjoy the Ashes series just finished in Australia.Just in case you missed the scoreline 5-0 to Australia.For you i would be more concerned about actually winning a series against Australia in South Africa.How long has it been.I cannot remember either

  • liz1558 on March 5, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    Some impressive shock and awe/blitzkrieg cricket from Johnson and Warner. Both men have been seriously maligned publically - Johnson with the tendency to bowl to the left and right, and Warner with all his 'despicable' behavior- and current form is partly a reaction to that. It will be interesting to see if their motivation goes beyond point-proving.

  • Protears on March 5, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @Rich000 like the snide remarks, and congratulations as I said earlier Australia played the better team cricket this series.

    Mitch is on form, Steyn came into the series with rib injuries and ended with a hamstring strain Managed to get 13-14 wickets never being fit. I guess you can say that Mitch is the better bowler being at similar career points one is measured with greats the other is a "what if" story. Morne has close to 200 career wickets but needs to perhaps go play in Australia to adapt his game. Vern has 120 wickets in 23 tests, that is being out of his league, to go with a batting average close to Duminy's but yeah he is out of his depth.

    I really honestly hope the Aussie bubble doesn't burst for your sake, it would be a travesty to watch the Mauling in India all over again or the past Ashes hidings, lets hope they can play well forever.

  • dunger.bob on March 5, 2014, 8:32 GMT

    @ Jason Bray: I've got a very tentative theory that Australian players are maturing later and playing longer than they used to. I think these days 32 is the new 28.

  • dunger.bob on March 5, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    @ Chris_Howard: Fair enough, but you can only play what's in front of you. It's not our fault Dale is struggling and you can't blame us for taking advantage of it either. These things happen. Having said that, I think I know what you mean. .. Still, I'll take it if we get it.

  • dunger.bob on March 5, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    @ HarrowXI: The very last line of your post has some very dark and serious under-tones. I'm scared. Really, really scared. I've got no doubt all our bowlers will be just as scared about that prospect as I am.

  • rich000 on March 5, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    @Protears.....a box of tissues heading your way.Morne such as great bowler.Has he got any wickets in the series.....you should be competitive against Windies, NZ and Sri Lanka .A tough call for who will win though.Phillander is certainly out of his league here.Would get a game for D Grade maybe.Johnson has outperformed Steyne so you are lucky that you were not facing Ahktar.Now that would have been a bloodbath....get over yourself and face facts that you were outplayed.....

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    The article there mentions 3 of Aust older heads - Rogers, Harris and Haddin. None of these 3 have played the non stop international cricket over the years due to injuries, non selection etc. They are all mentally fresh and thus playing some of the best cricket of their lives. Aust over did the rotation policy with its quicks 12 months ago but watching players like Trott, Swan and Smith retire/ burn out reasonably young shows that giving players time off at some stage is definitely got some merit.

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    I think people are forgetting where the Australian cricket has come in the past 9months and the level of improvement that we have made. I think SA supporters should be humbled and stop making excuses for them losing this serious and accept that Australia have played better cricket overall. You cant be number 1 forever, and Australia are on the rise, give us credit for that.

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    @William Walker : lol. David Warner's whole career has been this. First he was a T20 specialist. Then he was a limited overs specialist. Then he got in the shield side and people were saying maaaybe he could one day be a test #6. Then he scores a ton on a swinging greentop on debut. So people say he is passable, but call for him to be dropped as soon as he fails. Now he's top scored in back to back series including a ton in each innings - but he's just a flash-in-the-pan.

    It's interesting to see this happening. I look forward to when he retires in seven years or so, is called a legend and all the commenters talk about how he was always one of the greats.

  • VivGilchrist on March 5, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    @Protears, sure are some sour grapes your chewing on....

  • on March 5, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    If there us one thing cricket teaches us, it is that no-one is bigger than the game.

    Cricket history is littered with players who got off to a flying start, Andrew Strauss is one I seem to remember. The problem is, the law of averages - no-one can maintain the kind of momentum Warner is showing...his bubble too, will burst.

    It is a pity the series ends here. Both teams have shown what they are capable of and five tests would have put the issue beyond doubt - one way or the other. It will be difficult to concede who the better team is after these three tests only.

    As a South African, even after losing today (which is the most likely outcome), we will never know what might have followed in two more tests - the second test tells us that.

    Bottom line is that is was three tests and Australia has had the better of us. Well done! (The wheel turns!)

  • Protears on March 5, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    @Glen Carter, newsflash RSA will still be number 1 after the series by some way, its what happens when you hardly lose over a period of 5-6 years.

    @jay.Ray Shoaib Akhtar makes Johnson look a sunday league bowler when in comes to hostility. not only does Akhtar have the records of showing he ran through batting line ups at will including Australia with the greats, he has a collection of players left in pain and blood, including Lara, Tendulkar and Kirsten. Shoaib at his pomp averaged nothing less than 153-5km/h a booming inswinging yorker, the full toss and a bouncer far more scary.

  • Protears on March 5, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    I don't get all the talk of this being the end of South African cricket, like the 11 on the pitch are all the cricketers in South Africa. You only have to look at the U19 records for South Africa and future tours to Australia where SA school kids return truimphant very often. The problem has been politics, Alviro, Robin Peterson, JP and Kleinveldt are kept in the squad over more deserving players based on quota's, but with a lot of clear outs a number will get their chances building up to 2015 tour of India and England at home. We have I think Windies, NZ and Sri Lanka the rest of the year so its a good grooming time for next level of players.

    Around Amla, De Villiers, Faf, Steyn, Philander and Morkel is a good base to build off. Disappointing series in general for us but hardly the end of SA cricket or a run at the top of the rankings. I call it a clear out and restocking.

    For Aus they have really good form but its the benefit of playing 12 more tests in a year.

  • gimme-a-greentop on March 5, 2014, 5:48 GMT

    @Chris_Howard...nah, brag away. We've had some bad luck and lost the one toss we really wanted to win but even to my South African eyes we have been outplayed in most departments. If you are relying on one bowler then that's a problem. That is one reason we've been doing well; Philander has also been taking bags of wickets, backed up by Morkel. This series, not so much.

  • himmat on March 5, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Australia is what every nation should look up to.....they don't rely on home doctored pitches to get victories.....they have a record of whitewashing every test playing nations...which nobody has come close to achieve.....or will never achieve by anyone.......They don't rely on one member of the team to perform....as they all contribute as a team......sure Aussies would go on a slump after their top stars retired but they have talented replacements.....all they needed was good guidance !!

  • kepler22b on March 5, 2014, 3:43 GMT

    Posted by wellrounded87 on (March 4, 2014, 20:55 GMT)

    Hughes has played 26 tests of 5, 11 and 10 matches respectively (not 1 or 2 matches). In the most recent run he played 10 matches and (after being hidden from the saffas) scored 463 runs at 29, the sort of figures that Watto leaves for dead. Worse if you take away the Sri Lankan tour of Aus, Hughes drops down to 230 runs at 21. The selectors had enough when his last three innings in England were 0,1,1. This guy has had three goes and failed each time because he is super suspect outside off stump. The Shield and centuries in Adelaide are a long, long way from test matches. I would love to be proven wrong (as Smith has done) but I just can't see it.

  • on March 5, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    South Africa, previously the number 1 team in the world, were emasculated. Graeme Smith wanted to keep sledging Warner, but he couldn`t be heard as he was part of the 9 on the boundary. Total humiliation. Test cricket is going to be interesting over the next 2-3 years as all the major teams are in transition.

  • mondotv on March 5, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    I've always thought Warner was more than just a basher - ever since that 100 in Bellereve where the ball was decking both ways and most guys couldn't lay wood on ball Warner opened and was last man out. The truth is he has learnt when to defend and when to attack - but there will be bowlers and brain trusts all round the cricket world looking for a weakness. Yes he has a few things still to work on but I think the problem for a bowling attack against Warner is executing your plans. He puts more pressure on the bowlers than they can generally put on him. Should be fun to watch.

  • Chris_Howard on March 4, 2014, 22:35 GMT

    As an Aussie, it's deeply frustrating knowing we have beaten two wounded opponents in the last two series.

    We had England who played the whole series like they didn't want to be there, with no passion, lost one of their best bats early on, had their best spinner quit mid-series, and then we find out there was much disharmony in the dressing room.

    That's ok we thought, RSA will test us, will let us find out where we really stand.

    Alas, they have played each game with only 10 players, and significantly, a bowler short - and in the two matches we won (or will likely win) their #1 bowler. Not surprisingly, we dominate with the bat in both.

    Did we see in the second Test where Australia are really at? Even tho RSA were a bowler down, they had their #1 at the peak of his powers. How different could the third Test have been...

    We do have a very good side now, but it's just a shame we didn't play a full RSA team in each Test. It's not the same bragging rights beating 10 players with 11.

  • on March 4, 2014, 22:22 GMT

    Very true that Aus has three imminent retirements in Haddin, Rogers and Harris. I think somehow, even though he's had a great summer, that we have Hadds covered, surely one of Paine, Neville and co. will step up, with the priority being good glovemanship. For Rogers I think Hughes, Burns, Silk and Maddinson are probably leading candidates and I'm hoping that by the time Rogers goes it will be evident who is best suited to take up that all important role. Harris, as good as he is, is probably the one who worries me least. With the coming again of Johnson, the experience and steadiness of Siddle and the young talent of Pattinson, Cummins, Starc and others coming through I think we can maintain a threatening trio of quicks for a good while yet. Mind you, he's as skillful a quick as you'll find and we'll certainly miss him to an extent until the new order sorts itself out! Still work to do for Aus, as there always is but at least we can see now that the cattle are there!

  • HarrowXI on March 4, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    Australia has already replacement ready. Phil huges will replace Rogers. Faulkner will replace Watson. James Pattision will replace siddle. Pat cummins/starc/Bird will replace Ryan harris.

    Matthew wade will replace Brad haddin.

  • wellrounded87 on March 4, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    Great to see Warner and Steve Smith doing well. I will admit I was an adamant doubter of Smith but am happy to be proven wrong. Soon those two will need to step up as the senior bats, with Rogers and Haddin nearing 40 and Watson and Clarke not far behind them. I'm not sold on Doolan, i think he needs more time in shield. His domestic record isn't exactly stellar and I don't think he's done enough to keep Hughes out of this team. I think Hughes in at 3 and give him a run like Steve Smith was given instead of 1-2 tests then dropped as always. He's proven he can get runs in domestic comp, if he isn't so nervous about losing his spot he'll probably get them at Test level too.

    There is some promise in the future batting stocks with guys like Burns, Lynn, Silk, and maxwell impressing in shield this season (Burns last few seasons). Plus Khawaja probably deserves another chance.

    Just hope we don't continue the same trend of picking NSW over talent. Maddinson and Hazlewood have not impressed

  • on March 4, 2014, 20:13 GMT

    Happy to say I never doubted Warner for a second! At the same time I have to say I'm not always impressed with his antics off the field, least of all giving Root a tap on the chin. But it was always quite clear to me that he had this kind of play in him, he simply had to harness it, reign himself in a little and find a little more patience. Just on the patience side I was very happy to see him play out Duminy's tactic today and not go the big shot. He can simply play through those periods now and cash in later and he finally seems to have realised it. Wether this is Lehmann getting into his ear or he has worked it out himself you would not know, but he has turned into a match winner and more importantly a consistent one.

    @Ameya Shinde, well said. For what it's worth I think Pujara, Dhawan and Kohli are fantastic batsmen and all capable of playing big innings in Aus. I can't wait to see them battle it out with Mitch and co. next summer!

  • Beertjie on March 4, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    Well I confess to being a Warner doubter but I have seen the light and have now become a believer. All hail to mighty Davey whose like I have not before seen. He makes Bob Barber and Keith Stackpole who provided my earliest memories of a dashing opener seem quite insipid.

  • Blackholesun on March 4, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    Well done Warner. He is been in prime of his batting, very consistent since start of Ashes.

    Johnson too at his primer. To a fast bowler, nothing impress him more than seeing the fear in the eyes of the batsmen ! He has done exactly that since Ashes.

    Now "Delhi Daredevils (IPL)" must be wondering why did they let him go !

  • smudgeon on March 4, 2014, 18:39 GMT

    gimme-a-greentop, I think you'll find it's not just non-Australians who find it easy to dislike the Warner seen off the field. Agree for sure on the second part too, he's definitely a real force of nature when he's in form.

  • Jay.Raj on March 4, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    johnson makes players run away. how many bowlers have done this in the past?

  • gimme-a-greentop on March 4, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    Well as a non-Australian it is pretty easy to dislike Warner. He does the villain bit well, and not in a funny and over-the-top way like Merv. But damn the guy can bat when he's in the zone. He was toying with our bowlers today.

  • on March 4, 2014, 17:50 GMT

    Another highly thoughtful, if not excellent article

  • on March 4, 2014, 17:50 GMT

    Another highly thoughtful, if not excellent article

  • gimme-a-greentop on March 4, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    Well as a non-Australian it is pretty easy to dislike Warner. He does the villain bit well, and not in a funny and over-the-top way like Merv. But damn the guy can bat when he's in the zone. He was toying with our bowlers today.

  • Jay.Raj on March 4, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    johnson makes players run away. how many bowlers have done this in the past?

  • smudgeon on March 4, 2014, 18:39 GMT

    gimme-a-greentop, I think you'll find it's not just non-Australians who find it easy to dislike the Warner seen off the field. Agree for sure on the second part too, he's definitely a real force of nature when he's in form.

  • Blackholesun on March 4, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    Well done Warner. He is been in prime of his batting, very consistent since start of Ashes.

    Johnson too at his primer. To a fast bowler, nothing impress him more than seeing the fear in the eyes of the batsmen ! He has done exactly that since Ashes.

    Now "Delhi Daredevils (IPL)" must be wondering why did they let him go !

  • Beertjie on March 4, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    Well I confess to being a Warner doubter but I have seen the light and have now become a believer. All hail to mighty Davey whose like I have not before seen. He makes Bob Barber and Keith Stackpole who provided my earliest memories of a dashing opener seem quite insipid.

  • on March 4, 2014, 20:13 GMT

    Happy to say I never doubted Warner for a second! At the same time I have to say I'm not always impressed with his antics off the field, least of all giving Root a tap on the chin. But it was always quite clear to me that he had this kind of play in him, he simply had to harness it, reign himself in a little and find a little more patience. Just on the patience side I was very happy to see him play out Duminy's tactic today and not go the big shot. He can simply play through those periods now and cash in later and he finally seems to have realised it. Wether this is Lehmann getting into his ear or he has worked it out himself you would not know, but he has turned into a match winner and more importantly a consistent one.

    @Ameya Shinde, well said. For what it's worth I think Pujara, Dhawan and Kohli are fantastic batsmen and all capable of playing big innings in Aus. I can't wait to see them battle it out with Mitch and co. next summer!

  • wellrounded87 on March 4, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    Great to see Warner and Steve Smith doing well. I will admit I was an adamant doubter of Smith but am happy to be proven wrong. Soon those two will need to step up as the senior bats, with Rogers and Haddin nearing 40 and Watson and Clarke not far behind them. I'm not sold on Doolan, i think he needs more time in shield. His domestic record isn't exactly stellar and I don't think he's done enough to keep Hughes out of this team. I think Hughes in at 3 and give him a run like Steve Smith was given instead of 1-2 tests then dropped as always. He's proven he can get runs in domestic comp, if he isn't so nervous about losing his spot he'll probably get them at Test level too.

    There is some promise in the future batting stocks with guys like Burns, Lynn, Silk, and maxwell impressing in shield this season (Burns last few seasons). Plus Khawaja probably deserves another chance.

    Just hope we don't continue the same trend of picking NSW over talent. Maddinson and Hazlewood have not impressed

  • HarrowXI on March 4, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    Australia has already replacement ready. Phil huges will replace Rogers. Faulkner will replace Watson. James Pattision will replace siddle. Pat cummins/starc/Bird will replace Ryan harris.

    Matthew wade will replace Brad haddin.

  • on March 4, 2014, 22:22 GMT

    Very true that Aus has three imminent retirements in Haddin, Rogers and Harris. I think somehow, even though he's had a great summer, that we have Hadds covered, surely one of Paine, Neville and co. will step up, with the priority being good glovemanship. For Rogers I think Hughes, Burns, Silk and Maddinson are probably leading candidates and I'm hoping that by the time Rogers goes it will be evident who is best suited to take up that all important role. Harris, as good as he is, is probably the one who worries me least. With the coming again of Johnson, the experience and steadiness of Siddle and the young talent of Pattinson, Cummins, Starc and others coming through I think we can maintain a threatening trio of quicks for a good while yet. Mind you, he's as skillful a quick as you'll find and we'll certainly miss him to an extent until the new order sorts itself out! Still work to do for Aus, as there always is but at least we can see now that the cattle are there!