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Weary and wandering in the third innings of each Test so far in this series, England have been greedily feasted upon by David Warner
December 15, 2013
Features : A deranged fearlessness
News : Broad in doubt for Boxing Day Test
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Report : England unravel as Warner cuts loose
Players/Officials: David Warner
Matches: Australia v England at Perth
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia
First it was sloth, then it was wrath, now it's gluttony. David Warner's 2013 has been a year of deadly sins.
He displeased his coaches by being out of shape on the tour of India and upset Cricket Australia by taking a swing at Joe Root, but his feasting on the England bowlers during this series at home has done nothing but please those around him.
Warner gave his helmet a whack with his bat as he walked off at the end of his second innings in Perth. Cue the jokes about it making a nice change to see him hitting himself in the head. But really it was an indication that he was not satisfied. Warner had made 112, more than enough to sate most batsmen, but he wanted more. He has been hungry ever since losing his place at Trent Bridge, and here was feeding greedily on a wearying England.
It has been that way ever since Brisbane. An entrée of three Ryobi Cup hundreds and one in the Sheffield Shield was followed by the main course. Had Michael Clarke not declared with Warner on 83 in the second innings in Adelaide, he could well have had centuries in each of the first three Ashes Tests. England's three leading run scorers in this series - Michael Carberry, Alastair Cook and Joe Root - have fewer runs than Warner between them.
After three Tests, Warner has 457 runs at 91.40, putting him on a similar tier to Cook in 2010-11. At the same point in that Ashes campaign, Cook had 495 runs and there seemed scant doubt he would be Man of the Series. He was. Now there appears little chance of Warner being given the same honour. The most likely candidate is Mitchell Johnson for delivering victory in the first two Tests, or perhaps the retaliator Brad Haddin.
But Warner's considerable contribution cannot be underestimated. His critics will argue that his largest scores have all come in the second innings, easy runs with a hefty lead already in hand. It is true that Australia would prefer him to score big in the first innings, but his 49, 29 and 60 have hardly been failures. And when the chance has come to bury a fading England, he has done it comprehensively. A player who does that repeatedly is valuable.
At the WACA, Warner walked to the crease in the second innings with Australia already 134 in front. A few cracks were opening up and had England's bowlers run through the top order cheaply, the contest may have been reignited. But Warner's approach only increased the pressure on England. Boundaries flowed; albeit not quite as freely as they did in Warner's 180 against India at the same ground two summers ago.
|Despite being 27 Warner is still the most inexperienced first-class cricketer of anyone playing in this Test. Finding a long-form approach was trial and error.|
He cut hard, drove hard, flicked hard, pulled hard. His wagon-wheel was so evenly spread it looked like an asterisk. Cook couldn't find an answer, wherever he sent the fielders. His opening partner Chris Rogers said after play that Warner's great strength was having an option for every ball. Rogers noted that while others must wait for bad balls to score from, Warner makes bad balls happen.
His hundred came from 127 balls. By stumps, the lead was 369 and the game was all but over. Things move quickly when Warner is batting. His method fits coach Darren Lehmann's mantra of aggressive play. The previous coaching regime tried to steer Warner to a more considered style.
"They were trying to get him to play more correctly I felt, to play with a straight bat," Warner's personal batting coach Trent Woodhill said earlier this month. "As soon as we take instinct away from an athlete and they start thinking about defence, or about technique, to me they're not going to have a long career."
Warner inspired by sledging - Rogers
It is not surprising that Warner's game has been tweaked at international level, for despite being 27 he is still the most inexperienced first-class cricketer of anyone playing in this Test. Finding a long-form approach was trial and error. There will be more errors, but with a circumspect opening partner like Chris Rogers, Warner should be free to play his way for the foreseeable future.
"You've got to keep riding that rollercoaster, don't let up and keep batting with intent and that's what I've been doing," Warner said after making his 112. "I know when I get out some people get a bit disappointed but that's just the way I play. Sometimes it's a bit hit and miss. I'm probably in the form of my career but that comes down to hard work. I've obviously grown some maturity. You've got to. I'm 27 now and you can't take anything for granted."
That became apparent to him in India and England this year. Warner has been given plenty of chances, but is finally taking them. It now seems certain that he will finish the series as a key contributor in Australia regaining the Urn. Who, then, could blame him for indulging in one more of the deadly sins? Pride.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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